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GMTA Reports Rising Passenger Use for Montpelier Circulator Bus

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by Nat Frothingham
In a report to the Montpelier City Council on June 11—Tawnya Kristen, community relations manager for the Green Mountain Transit Agency, provided detailed numbers to describe the rising passenger use of the agency’s free Montpelier Circulator bus.
According to Kristen, the free Montpelier Circulator Bus has seen a 67 percent rise in passenger use from the year ending June 30, 2012, to the year ending June 30, 2013.
Commenting on this 67 percent gain in ridership, Kristen said, “From a transportation perspective, that’s impressive.”
And that’s not all. In the last six months of 2013 (July through December) passenger numbers for the Circulator Bus have rising another 4 percent over the year before. Kristen said that about 2,000 passengers a month are using the Circulator Bus this year. The total this year from January through May (2014) is 20,482 riders. The total last year during that five-month period was 19,686. So the Circulator Bus is continuing to attract more passengers but not at the same dramatic rate as in 2012 and 2013.
Summing up the rise in passenger numbers, Kristen said, “In our third year, we are beginning to level off. In short, the Circulator Bus has captured its core group of riders. And the fact that the growth rate is slowing—that’s not a source of concern.”
Another measure of the effectiveness of the Circulator Bus is the per passenger cost per ride. Kristin said that what the State of Vermont finds acceptable as the cost per ride is a little over $16 per passenger. With the gains in ridership, the cost per passenger right now is down to $8.40 per ride. Kristen went on the say that the Circulator Bus is saving wear and tear on roads, cutting down on traffic and addressing environmental issues.
Now that the passenger numbers have leveled off, the GMTA is suggesting a possible change of service. Kristin reported that only 14 people are using the bus on Saturday, while 87 riders are using the bus on weekdays. These numbers, she said, suggest a possible service shift that would take away some of the service on Saturdays and extend the morning and end-of-the-day hours on weekdays.
But the Green Mountain Transit Agency is consulting the public. Members of the public can participate in an online survey by going to info@gmtaride.org, or they can attend and participate in a first GMTA public meeting to be held on Monday evening, June 30 at 5:30 p.m. at Montpelier’s City Hall.

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