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State Plans To Expand Bus Service To Metro Areas

This week is Way To Go Week,  and Vermonters are being encouraged to carpool or use mass transit to get to work.

That’s become easier in recent years with the expansion of commuter bus service. But connecting by bus to more distant points is a  problem. 

Now the state has a plan to make it easier for Vermonters to catch an intercity bus., which are busses that either carry passengers to a large population center or connect lines that serve regional cities.   

15 years ago, busses connecting to places like Boston, Montreal and New York made stops at 50 different locations in Vermont. Now the number is down to six.  

“We have nothing on the western corridor, we have nothing serving the Northeast Kingdom and we are very limited in Central Vermont,” says to Chris Cole of the Agency of Transportation

Cole says Greyhound and Megabus provide some limited intercity service to Vermont but as intercity routes became unprofitable, private carriers discontinued them.

Because of a federal law requiring that states provide bus service to rural areas, Vermont plans to offer subsidies to companies willing to pick up new routes.

The top priorities include:

  • White River Junction to Springfield, MA.
  • Burlington to Albany, New York
  • Rutland to White River. 

Cole says there are also plans to establish a Newport to White River route.
“They’re not trips that people make on a daily basis,” he explains. “ They may make them two or three times a year, but for Vermonters who don’t have cars it’s critical.”

Cole is hopeful the routes will eventually prove profitable for the bus companies.  Until then state will pay the difference between revenue from the routes and the cost of running the busses. 

The budget for the subsidies is about $500,000, with the largest portion paid by the federal government.

Proposed Intercity bus routes