Bus to rail link close to starting

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BENNINGTON — A new bus linking southwestern Vermont to rail service in New York's Capital Region could start by the end of the month.

A new Amtrak Thruway Service bus connection with inter-line ticketing, with stops in Manchester and Bennington, would bring riders to the Amtrak station, Greyhound terminal and Albany International Airport.

State transportation officials had issued a request for proposals in April, seeking a service provider to run the new state-supported bus. The winning bidder was expected to reach an agreement with Amtrak concerning booking and ticketing options.

Local officials hoped the new service would begin this summer or early fall.

"We are in the process of gaining approvals for the contract," Bonnie Sanders, contracts specialist with VTrans, said Friday. "Hopefully, we will have more information in a week or two."

Riders will be able to buy a single ticket for travel through inter-line ticketing through Amtrak's website.

The new service has been dubbed the "Vermont Shires Connector" and is expected to feature two runs each day, with stops in Manchester Center and Bennington, according to a draft timetable and rate matrix.

The bus would start at the tour bus parking area at the municipal parking lot in Manchester Center, and then the Hampton Inn and The Equinox hotels. In Bennington, the bus will pick up and drop off riders adjacent to the parking lot for the Bennington Station Restaurant on River Street.

From Bennington, the bus would head west to New York, stopping at the Amtrak station in Rensselaer, the Greyhound terminal in Albany, and Albany International Airport.

The bus would leave Manchester Center at 5:55 a.m. and 1:40 p.m., arriving in Rensselaer at 7:50 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. It would depart the airport at 9:35 a.m. and 5:30 p.m, arriving in Manchester Center at 12:20 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

Riders would pay $16.50 to travel from Manchester Center to the Amtrak station and $19.50 to the airport. From Bennington, riders would pay $4 to travel to Amtrak and $13 to the airport.

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.

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