Montpelier residents will have access to an on-demand transit program called MyRide starting Jan. 4. MyRide is a two-year pilot project in collaboration between the Sustainable Montpelier Committee, Green Mountain Transit, and the state Agency of Transportation, which will provide riders with a request-based transportation system.
“Essentially, it’s an Uber for public transportation,” said Jamie Smith, director of marketing and transportation at GMT. The MyRide program allows riders to request rides from wherever they are to wherever they need to go. As explained on the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition’s website, “MyRide by GMT uses dynamic routing that will get you from your location to your work, your doctor’s office, the grocery store, your child’s school on your schedule.”
The Montpelier Sustainable Coalition hopes that the new system will alleviate road congestion and free up parking lots, which the city can eventually turn into space for commercial and residential buildings. The push to get more drivers to switch to public transportation will also hopefully cut down on greenhouse gases emitted from cars and will be a step toward the Montpelier City Council’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Similar to Uber and Lyft, riders can book rides through an app on their smartphones. Those who do not have smartphones can also book rides through the transit authority’s website, by calling the call center, by booking through a customer service representative at the Taylor Street Transit Center, or by using a tablet station at the transit center kiosk.
To make the transition easier for current riders, the organization is working with the Montpelier Housing Authority to set up training and pre-registration sessions and will assist people on booking their first week of trips. They are also asking businesses around town, such as Shaw’s, Hannaford, and Walmart, to act as ambassadors for MyRide. They intend to have the customer service departments at those stores help folks who do not have smartphone access to book rides.
“We’re really trying to dig deep into the back-end of this service, so we can make sure we’re not affecting current riders in a bad way. We want to make this service better for them,” Smith said during the City Council meeting on Dec. 2.
MyRide vehicles will replace the Montpelier Circulator and the Montpelier Hospital Hill and Capital Shuttle routes. That includes most of Montpelier and popular destinations in Berlin, including Central Vermont Medical Center, Berlin Mall, Granger Road, and Shaw’s. Overall, the service will cover a 7½-mile radius and use GMT’s existing fleet.
Using the service in Montpelier will be free and will cost $1 (or 50 cents for seniors) for rides to and from Berlin. However, fare is free for everyone during the duration of the pandemic. Public transit fares that are covered under Medicaid will also be covered under MyRide.
Hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-6 p.m.