If you are curious about how Green Mountain Transit’s new MyRide service works, now is the time to give it a try. Moreover, the federal subsidy through the COVID-relief package has been extended for another year, meaning the on-call vans will continue to provide transportation at no cost to passengers through June of 2022.
Montpelier is the smallest city among several across the country that are test sites for this innovation in public transportation. The general manager for Green Mountain Transit, Jon Moore, explains that the design of the MyRide systems is varied depending upon local needs. For Montpelier, the service, which began in January, operates within the city and to destinations in Berlin, primarily the Berlin Mall, Central Vermont Medical Center, and other destinations in that area.
Moore reminds new riders planning to try the service that the federal mandate for wearing masks on public transportation is still in place, even though similar requirements have expired for other venues and locations in Vermont.
As the Green Mountain Transit website explains, the goal of the on-demand service is to provide riders with a “flexible-schedule, flexible-route service in Montpelier.” The system features technology-enabled vehicles that provide curb-to-curb service, taking riders when and where they need to go. MyRide replaces the several previously scheduled routes: Montpelier Hospital Hill, Montpelier Circulator, and the Capitol Shuttle.
MyRide can be scheduled on the MyRide by GMT app or through the Green Mountain Transit call center (802-223-7287), Monday–Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Moore notes that scheduled routes to Barre and other destinations in the GMT system will continue to operate as they have in the past.
How MyRide Works
During operating hours, MyRide has three vans available to pick up riders. Whether the trip is scheduled through the MyRide by GMT app or by phoning the GMT Call Center, the software developed by Via manages the scheduling, the routes, and tracks the current location of each van.
Peter Watt, who works at Montpelier High School, had faced a transportation challenge that was conveniently resolved by the arrival of MyRide. Having committed to being a one-car family, Watt had spent the fall cobbling together rides with neighbors when other obligations complicated the availability of the family car. But when the new service opened in January, he was quick to get on board.
“It’s really easy, and the call center staff are great,” Watt said. He hasn’t used the app for scheduling, but sets up his schedule at the beginning of each month through the call center. Importantly, the system provides text reminders in advance of the scheduled pick up — and the app shows the current location of the enroute van.
“Once in a while it’s been a little late, but it keeps me on schedule,” Watt notes. Most of the time the ride has gone directly to the high school, but when there have been additional riders the delay has been minimal, he adds. “The drivers are all great people, even when I’ve had a different driver each weekday.”
Riding to a Summer Job
Luc Brassard, who graduated this spring from Montpelier High School, has been using the My Ride by GMT app to schedule transportation to his job at Shaw’s supermarket in Berlin. While he sometimes has access to a car to drive to work, Brassard appreciates having the public transportation option. “I’m kind of impressed. It’s like the bus service has turned into an Uber or taxi.”
Another student, who lives near the top of one of the many hills surrounding Montpelier, used the service to get home at the end of the school day. Because the vans have a bicycle rack, he could ride to school but avoid the tough, uphill pedal to get home. He noted that when using the MyRide app you have options to schedule for pick up within the next hour, or to schedule by the time you want to arrive at a destination if your travel is later in the day.
How MyRide Came to Be
Green Mountain Transit’s General Manager Moore credits the collaboration of several organizations as the impetus for the launch of the new service. “Along with the city of Montpelier, the nonprofit Sustainable Montpelier and the Vermont Agency of Transportation have been instrumental in launching the pilot project.”
Ridership on MyRide has increased from 1,436 during January, the first month of operation, to 2,598 during May, the most recent full month, Moore notes.