TRANSPORTATION

On-Demand Microtransit

SMC is working as the community partner with the State's Agency of Transportation (VTrans), Green Mountain Transit (GMT) and local employers and organizations to implement an on-demand, microtransit pilot project called MyRide by GMT. MyRide will replace the 3 current, traditional fixed-route, fixed-schedule bus routes. Under the pilot project, MyRide will replace the Montpelier Circulator, Montpelier Hospital Hill and Capital Shuttle routes. Three vehicles will serve the same areas the 3 fixed-route buses served and more - including most of Montpelier and popular destinations in Berlin, including CVMC, Berlin Mall, Granger Road and Shaw's. This service will be free in Montpelier while rides up to Berlin destinations will cost $1.00, or $0.50 for seniors (ride fares that were covered, ex. Medicaid, under the 3 fixed-routes will continue to be covered)

Any ADA (Americans with Disability Act), E & D (Elderly & Disabled) or Nonemergency medical trip (NEMT) that started and ended within this service area would also be provided through the MyRide service creating a more convenient and accessible service model for riders. You can request rides when you want them, instead of following a fixed schedule.

MyRide uses dynamic routing that will get you from your street corner to your child’s school, your work, your doctor's office, the grocery store on your schedule. This service will provide a comparable experience to that of the personal vehicle at a fraction of the cost. Montpelier's pilot project is launching on January 4th, 2021. You may schedule a ride via a phone call, smart phone app, website, and kiosks located at specific locations throughout the city, or with the assistance of Green Mountain Transit staff at the Transit Center. We will develop a map to show the locations of the public kiosks. A vehicle will respond to your trip request within 15-20 minutes. Like the current service, there will be other passengers on the vehicle. You will be taken to your destination as quickly as possible, sometimes making other stops along the way. The service will factor in your location and destination to pick you up and deliver you with the greatest efficiency.

What are the benefits of switching to MyRide? It is a convenient service that is quick, direct, and works with your schedule. One real key to getting people to select MyRide is offering an excellent service at a desirable price. The other key is that car ownership is not cheap.

People spend an average of $8500 a year to keep a car. Calculate the cost of your of operating your vehicle here.

SMC and GMT are helping to facilitate a Montpelier MyRide by GMT Advisory Council. The Advisory Council will oversee the pilot's policy development and will monitor the customer feedback and metrics for the pilot project.

This group is comprised of: VTrans (Ross MacDonald), VTrans/GoVermont! (Dan Currier), GMT representatives (Jon Moore, Jamie Smith, Christopher Damiani, Nick Foss), Steadman Hill Consulting (Stephen Falbel), SMC Staff (Dan Jones, Elizabeth Parker, Laura Brooke, AmeriCorps VISTA, Tom Hubregsen), Washington County Senator (Andrew Perchlik), Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission (Bonnie Waninger), Montpelier City Council (Dona Bate, Conor Casey), Vermont Center for Independent Living (Peter Johnke), Montpelier Alive (Dan Groberg), Montpelier Senior Activities Center (Peter Kelman), VOC Rehab Vermont (Zoe Cartwright), Central Vermont Medical Center (Jim Alvarez), Capstone Community Action (Paul Zabriskie), Vermont Energy Education Program (Cara Robechek), National Life Group (Charlie Maitland)

No more warming your car up in the winter or stepping into a hot vehicle in the summer, MyRide will pick you up at your curb and drop your off at your destination in comfort and on time.

As Montpelier residents choose MyRide, less parking will be required for cars downtown. The parking lots can be freed-up over time for better uses, such as commercial development, housing and open space. MyRide can create a win-win for individual residents and the whole community.

Keep in touch with SMC and GMT to stay up to date on the MyRide Pilot Project - launching January 4th, 2021.

Background on Montpelier's Transportation System

In Montpelier, the common complaint is that we have a parking problem. What we really have is a transportation problem that stems from a housing problem.

Parking lots take up around 60% of Montpelier’s downtown real-estate. They prevent the development of downtown commercial, residential building and open space. Montpelier has around 7,500 residents living in Montpelier. However, 15,000 people work in the Capital City during the day (Montpelier Master Plan). Over 2,800 commuter cars transport people coming into Montpelier to work.

Why is this a problem?

Commuter cars are warehoused during the day in large parking lots along the river. Providing more parking supports single-occupancy vehicle use (Parking and the City, Donald Shoup). Montpelier's Historic Development in the last two centuries created small downtown streets, which easily leads to traffic congestion. This congestion and on-street parking creates a less friendly, less walkable community. The Sustainable Montpelier Coalition is working to free-up land where cars are warehoused so that there are — “more uses of the same space for more people more of the time.”

Montpelier has been experiencing low vacancy rates that drives up the rental costs and makes it very hard for people to afford to live here. Younger people, seeking to live and work in Montpelier are unable to find housing downtown. Montpelier employers report that retention of young workers is challenging, because of the lack of housing and transportation options. Why do Millennials drive less than Boomers? explains how we must start to cater to the needs of younger generations. Montpelier also offers limited alternatives for area seniors looking to downsize. Our housing shortage contributes to our transportation problems, because people have to live further outside of downtown and then need cars to commute to work, shop and dine. Why the Transportation Energy Intensity of buildings matter explains the correlation between green buildings and the transportation required for their occupants to travel to work, shop and recreate.

Why do Millennials drive less than Boomers?

Vermonters drive 20% more than the US average. Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas in the state. Montpelier’s City Council is committed to being Net Zero by 2030. Montpelier alone has many cars. From the 2018 5-year ACS Community Survey, of 3,726 Montpelier households: 1,883 have 1 vehicle, 1,119 have 2 vehicles and 285 have 3 or more vehicles, while only 439 do not use a single-occupancy vehicle. The Montpelier Parking and Shuttle Study (1993) identified 3,088 parking spaces, with underutilized private parking spaces. Surprisingly, approximately 1,000 Montpelier residents drive to work and park their cars on site. How do we adopt the use of shared passenger vehicles to free-up land for better uses and reduce the number of vehicles in our downtown?

Why does the transportation energy intensity of buildings matter?

How we design our land, our built environment, to influence the choices people can, and want to make? What we think of as being a transportation problem is indeed a housing problem. Providing people with more choices for downtown housing and transportation is a key goal of smart growth. We can work together to transform our transportation use by participating in on-demand microtransit to change Montpelier's downtown land-use. Participating in shared mobility will benefit us all. Shared mobility is the first step to denser downtown housing that will create a healthy, happy, resilient Montpelier community.

Key Elements in Changing our Transportation System

Remote/Satellite Parking

Remote or satellite parking is the concept of placing parking around the perimeter of Montpelier to free-up critical downtown land for other uses such as: commercial, housing and open space. This also reduces traffic and congestion downtown. It is especially helpful when commuters, such as State office workers & legislators, use remote parking and free-up parking for tourists and shoppers.

Satellite parking requires a last-mile transportation solution to move people from parking to downtown. An example of remote parking system working is the Department of Labor (DOL) lot where State workers can park. Starting January 4th, 2021, on-demand microtransit will be available for State workers & legislators to ride from the DOL parking lot to their Montpelier offices.

Typically, during the legislative session there is an influx of cars. As we move beyond COVID, how can legislators and State workers and lobbyists get into Montpelier and move around the community?

Other satellite parking options were suggested in the design by Team Bridges, winner of the Sustainable Montpelier 2030 Design Competition: the Grossman’s lot near the Rt 302 roundabout and another near the train station at Montpelier Junction. Recently, since the completion of construction on Northfield Street, the former Brown Derby lot is also being considered as possible satellite parking location.

Local Commuter Rail

Montpelier and Barre are connected by rail. This rail also extends west to Burlington and east Lebanon, NH. Sadly, our local rail has not been maintained to passenger line standard. In the Sustainable Montpelier 2030 Design Competition, the winning team Bridges vision proposed the revitalization of rail use. SMC is interested in making this vision of commuter rail a reality.

In September 2018 SMC convened the Transportation Roundtable II. AllEarth Rail made a presentation about commuter rail. It is nationally documented that not only does commuter rail get people to where they want to go, it contributes to the economic development of communities along the rail line. Communities with a commuter rail line report a 7:1 Return-On-Investment.

Many of the workers in Barre and Montpelier have easy access to the existing rail because the tracks pass through both cities downtowns. As rail becomes available, commuters can hop on the train and ride to work. Have a meeting in Waterbury? Hop on the train. Have a meeting in Barre? Hop on the train. Want to shop at the stores along the Barre/Montpelier Road? Hop on the train. Easy, accessible, and fun! Who needs a second car when you have the option of taking the train where you need to go?

AllEarth Rail has purchased a number of Budd cars. These cars are self-propelled, stainless steel railcars inter-city passenger rail service.