On December 9, 2015

VTrans lags in connecting public transit services

By C.B. Hall, VTDigger.org

Every year the state of Vermont spends $6.5 million to operate two Amtrak trains and $6 million to support local bus operations, but the state, Amtrak and local companies have yet to establish connections between trains and buses, despite calls to do so from transit activists and the Legislature.

A lack of coordinated bus and train service has been an issue for years in Vermont, but little progress has been made.

Today, of the 11 Vermont stations on Amtrak’s New York-Rutland Ethan Allen Express and Washington, D.C.-St. Albans Vermonter routes, two have no bus service at all; nine are served within 300 yards by local and/or intercity bus stops. Only four have services that connect with trains going in both directions, but usually at bad times, or only on weekdays.

Only the Essex Junction train station offers comprehensive daily connections with the Chittenden County Transportation Authority.

Hit-or-miss pattern: Killington and Pico fare ok

To reach Mount Snow for a weekend of skiing, car-less New York City residents, for example, can take a train to Brattleboro, but then must get to the Brattleboro Transportation Center.

There is no map posted at the train station explaining how to get there, but there is a stack of bus brochures with maps inside the station.

New Yorkers headed to Killington or Pico for a few days of skiing fare better. While the Marble Valley Regional Transit District runs a bus to both ski areas from the Ethan Allen Express terminus in Rutland, it quits for the night well before the train’s evening arrival.

The private sector comes to the rescue, however, with services such as the Killington Shuttle Express and Gramps’ Shuttle, which serve the Rutland station on a dedicated basis: that is, they come when and if reservations are called in, proceed to Killington and Pico whenever the train arrives, and return the traveler to Rutland for the train back to New York.

Through-ticketing for the two shuttles is not available from Amtrak, although Killington Shuttle advertises its service at the station and in the Amtrak timetable.

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