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By Kara Herlihy
The Mad Bus is lean and mean and ready for winter, complete with newly slimmed, more efficient routes. Representatives from the Green Mountain Transit Agency held a sparsely attended public hearing Tuesday evening to discuss Mad Bus route changes, effective this winter.
Among those present at the October 7 hearing were Steve Gladczuk, of the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, and Meredith Birkett, senior transit planner with Chittenden County Transportation Authority.
Birkett and Gladczuk explained the changes to existing winter service routes, which were adopted in the interest of time and energy efficiency, as well as declining ridership.
Changes to the Valley Floor Route were adopted including the elimination of the Warren Village segment of the route, which experienced limited ridership in past years, according to GMTA representatives. The 6 a.m. trip was also cut, along with the 6 p.m. trip on weekdays.
Additional service was added to Route 17 and German Flats Road, with trips to Mount Ellen and an extra stop at Slide Brook. Upper Club Sugarbush has been removed from the Access Road route to the Valley Floor to save time.
The running time on the Mountain Condos route was shortened from 30 minutes to 15 minutes for efficiency's sake. GMTA will maintain the half-hour frequency on weekdays by alternating it with the Access Road Route, and maintain the 15-minute headways on weekends and holidays with the help of an additional bus.
Running time on the Access Road route was also shortened from 30 minutes to 15, while the Sugarbush South stop was removed from the route and added to the new Warren Shuttle route.
The Saturday evening service will be response based from now on, making stops based on the suggestion of the drivers and indications of ridership. Extra service has been added to Route 17 and German Flats Road, and Warren has been added to the Saturday night route.
The new Warren shuttle will serve PowderHound, The Seasons, Warren Village, and Sugarbush South, which lost service as a result of the changes to the Valley Floor and Access Road Routes.
The new shuttle will offer morning and evening service with a break in the middle of the day. Other changes to the Mad Bus routes include the elimination of the 5:30 p.m. Mount Ellen trip, which was not heavily used last year and will be incorporated in the new Valley Floor route.
The SnowCap Commuter service, which used to deadhead back and forth between Montpelier and The Valley, will now stay in The Valley for the entire day, adding an additional bus to aid service routes during the day. The Harwood Freerider service will now operate on Mondays and Thursdays at the request of the school.
GMTA will continue to serve the Green Mountain Valley School on weekends and holidays. Changes to the Mad Bus routes are effective this winter; GMTA hopes to have the bus guides completed and available by the last week in November.