Green Mountain Express adds bus routes
The new Green Mountain Express schedule, operated by the Green Mountain Community Network, has added limited mid-day Saturday service around Bennington in addition to a Monday through Friday Pownal, North Bennington and Shaftsbury run, a request stop in both directions at Lake Shaftsbury State Park and two late afternoon stops at Mount Anthony Union High School, said Baker.
After operating the bus system for many years, the Green Mountain Chapter of the American Red Cross handed control over in February to the Green Mountain Community Network, Inc., a non-profit organization founded by the local Red Cross Chapter's board of directors. GMCN purchased the Green Mountain Express bus service, along with all of its buses, vans and cars from the Red Cross.
After becoming the executive director of GMCN earlier this year, Baker said the organization would look to expand the number of routes and reach out to the local community to see where routes were most needed. A community-wide meeting in April was a big help, he said.
Also added to the schedule is a new mid-day round trip to Manchester, which will operate seven days a week with a variety of stops along the way and throughout downtown Manchester, said Baker.
"It takes time to make people aware of it, but we've tried to make some very positive changes in the schedule, for instance, starting a service to Manchester," he said.
The new schedule also adds a route to both Shaftsbury and North Bennington.
Baker said the timetables will be available on all GMCN vehicles and at its stops, which will also soon feature bus stop signs.
"Signage will go up at bus stops. It feels more like a city transportation system and it's going to look like a more urban approach to it. ... All of that should be in place within a month," said Baker.
The Green Mountain Express is also the designated county Medicaid and Reach-Up transportation provider that serves the elderly and disabled community with a variety of specialized transit services, said Baker.
Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd, who is also the president of GMCN's board of directors, said most funding for the bus service comes from state and federal sources but also requires a local match.
Hurd said GMCN has not asked municipal governments within the county for funding and does not have plans to do so.
"I think we'll be fine. In the 20 years or so that the bus system was operated under the Red Cross it never had to go to local governments and I'm not anticipating that we'll have to do that now," he said.
He said money for the necessary local match funds can likely be found in grants from the community.
"There is no scheduled funding from any of the towns in the county, as far as I know. It is a county-wide agency and the local share can be made up from other revenue, from towns ... or from other sources such as grants. They want to know that the public transit systems are supported local," said Hurd. "In the past when the bus system was part of the Red Cross umbrella the local share money really came from other grants."
Baker said it was too soon to understand how successful additions to the bus service have been, but said drivers have heard positive feedback from customers.
"Things are definitely looking better now that we have six months of business under our belts," she said. "People have been pleased and they're particularly pleased that we have added the Saturday schedule for local travel."
On the Web: www.greenmtncn.org.
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