BRATTLEBORO—Thanks to a grant from the Federal Transit Administration, daily direct bus service between Brattleboro and Boston began on Oct. 1.
MAX Bus, operated by Shelburne Falls, Mass.-based TrueNorth Transit Group LLC, will run a round-trip daily bus between Boston’s South Station and the Brattleboro Transportation Center, with Massachusetts stops in Greenfield, Orange, Athol, Fitchburg, Leominster, Worcester, and Framingham.
“Our service is a little different as we’re geared to local residents and businesses needing a day trip into Boston during the week for appointments, and then visitors to Vermont for the weekend,” Connie Englert, Principal and Managing Director of True North Transit, told The Commons.
Englert said True North hopes “to add express service by the spring” and to “bundle some travel packages with local businesses as well,” including the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce.
Also in the works is an express small-package service, with discounts for area food cooperatives and collectives, Englert said.
The MAX (Massachusetts Area Express) Bus service will be provided with what Englert called state-of-the-art motor coaches with extra-legroom seating, Wi-Fi, power outlets, and free baggage and bike space. The service also is fully ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible.
Englert said that for the first six weeks, there will be a $29 roundtrip introductory fare from Brattleboro. After that, tickets will be $24 one way and $42 round-trip, with discounts for groups of 10-30 people.
“The goal is to have the most people possible riding the bus every day, and making the service part of the community,” she said. “If we break even, we’d be thrilled.”
True North is described by Englert as “a very small, local, and independent social enterprise focused on rural and small urban transportation services.”
It receives public funding for MAX Bus from the Federal Transit Administration’s 5311(f) Rural Intercity Bus Program and Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s BusPlus Regional Bus Program.
Englert said funding was reduced by 85 percent by MassDOT for the current fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, which forced the suspension of twice-daily bus service between Northampton, Massachusetts, and Boston.
This forced TrueNorth and MAX Bus to come up with an alternative plan that was approved by the FTA.
“A few months ago, we reached out to the [Brattleboro] Selectboard and let them know that we were going for the FTA money, and we only found out that we got it just a few days ago,” Englert said Sept. 23. “We’re now in rapid deployment mode.”
Englert said the Brattleboro to Boston route — which follows Route 2 from Greenfield to Leominster, then Interstate 190 to Worcester and the Massachusetts Turnpike — represented a way “to maintain many, but not all, of the elements” that the previous service offered.
“Northampton already has bus service to Boston with Peter Pan,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of requests in Greenfield and Brattleboro for a daily bus to Boston.”
With the arrival of Megabus last month, this makes two interstate buses using the Transportation Center as a stop.
Long-term parking is available at the Transportation Center for people using the buses or Amtrak. Permits are $5 a day, with no charge for weekends and holidays.
The permits are available at the Parking Office, which is on the ground floor of the Transportation Center, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During off hours, the permit may be purchased at the police station.
The permit is valid only in the parking garage.