The Colchester selectboard unanimously voted last week to request the cancellation of the late night Green Mountain Transit (GMT) commuter trip to Milton.
The Milton commuter route 56 runs 12 trips a day Monday through Friday from Burlington to Milton and back, servicing Winooski and Colchester in between. The late night trip runs from 9:40 p.m. to 10:27 p.m.
Deputy town manager Geoffrey Urbanik explained the discussion to cancel the trip began after GMT released its 2018 NextGen transit study showing extremely low ridership: approximately 1.5 passengers utilize each one way trip on the late night run.
Several recommendations from that study included reducing the number of operating patterns, adjust times or discontinue the late night trip. Urbanik said the low ridership was the main reason for the town’s decision to request GMT to cancel the trip.
“If nobody’s using it, then why should we be charged for it,” Urbanik explained.
If approved, the decision will save Colchester $5,359, or one-sixth of its GMT commuter route budget. The town’s total FY20 GMT budget is just over $123,000, which is a 37 percent increase over last year’s budget, Urbanik wrote in a memo. This budget also includes ADA accessible and Special Services Transportation Agency transport.
Milton town manager Don Turner said he had been in contact with Colchester during their discussions about cancelling the trip. In anticipation of Colchester’s decision, Turner said the Milton selectboard preemptively decided to reduce allocations to GMT in the amount of the late night trip in the FY20 budget.
He said the town has not formally said they would also cancel the trip, but will likely make that decision now that Colchester has decided to back out.
“We are aware that the ridership on that late trip is minimal and we are also looking at ways to save money if need be, so that was one of the factors that went into that,” Turner explained.
Turner said he will add the topic to the town’s upcoming selectboard meeting to take a formal action. If the selectboard decides to keep the route, the town would have to foot the bill for both Colchester and Milton, something Turner doesn’t think would be realistic.
“If we had to pay for the whole route, that was going to be a concern,” Turner said.
Colchester has submitted a letter to GMT to request the cancellation of the late night trip no later than June 30 of this year. Urbanik said the town has yet to hear back from the transit company.