BRATTLEBORO—The Beeline will almost certainly end up in the hands of Connecticut River Transit (CRT), after the Selectboard at its meeting last week approved the organization assuming the town’s municipal bus service and the grant funding that subsidizes its operation.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) received two proposals for the Beeline from CRT and Deerfield Valley Transit Authority (DVTA).
CRT manages the Current bus line, while DVTA runs the MOOver.
According to Town Manger Barbara Sondag, CRT won out because of its bigger infrastructure and in-house automotive department, which could better “absorb” the Beeline operations and current Beeline’s grant funding.
She said the Selectboard needed to ratify the AOT’s decision to go with the CRT, after which transfer negotiations could begin.
“It’s not a financial negotiation, because the grant’s the grant,” Sondag said.
She said CRT’s proposal clearly stated the current Beeline drivers would be hired.
According to Sondag, CRT’s plan does not call for any changes to the bus line this fiscal year or until the grant has been transferred from the town to CRT.
The company’s operation person has been riding the Beeline and is looking into ways to improve the route either by extending it or reducing the hour-long turnaround.
Selectboard member Daryl Pillsbury asked what if future negotiations went south after AOT accepted CRT’s proposal.
Sondag said Brattleboro municipal staff participated in detailed conversations with CRT prior to AOT’s recommendation.
“I don’t anticipate any issues,” she said.
She added it’s “very important” the town continue to contribute the same amount to the bus fund in order to keep a strong “position at the table.”
“This [bus line] is for the long haul,” she said.
“I still don’t know if it’ll all go hunky-dory. I’m concerned like a lot of the riders, but I think this is the best move forward,” said Pillsbury.
Selectboard Vice Chair Dora Bouboulis said she had voted against the change, “but that train has left the station” and the town has already given the Beeline up to the state.
Sondag said AOT wanted this transfer and for Beeline to succeed and that success would be measured in having happy riders.