"The Current", operated by Connecticut River Transit, lets passengers on at its stop on Flat Street. (Reformer file photo)
"The Current", operated by Connecticut River Transit, lets passengers on at its stop on Flat Street. (Reformer file photo)
Friday December 7, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- The Windham Regional Commission has released a countywide transportation study that aims to improve mobility for youth, and all residents, throughout the region.

The study grew out of meetings held in 2007 with area youth to look at transportation obstacles.

After the first few meetings, WRC Senior Planner Matt Mann said the study was broadened to take a comprehensive look at the existing options, and then to make recommendations to increase and coordinate mobility resources across Windham County.

"Early on we found that transportation was the number one deterrent getting in the way of youth doing what they wanted to do," Mann said. "Everyone who got involved was supportive and determined to take the next step and give people more options."

A series of meetings were held with transit providers and school officials, with representatives from the area's colleges and business leaders, and then with human service and health care providers.

"We wanted to gather information," Mann said. "We wanted to look at the existing services and find out how they were being utilized and then set short term goals to improve the services."

The group came up with a number of recommendations, including establishing transit service along Route 30 and improving the service along Route 5.

They also want to improve information and communication to coordinate volunteer driver services and make sure the public knows about the existing services.

Following meetings with area supervisory unions, Mann said the group wants to investigate the possibility of using school buses that largely remain inactive in the middle of the day.

He said there might be barriers, but there was at least a call to talk to officials to see if it was possible to use the buses more when they are empty.

The group also wants to work closer with the Boys and Girls Club to make sure youth are able to get to and from events that happen in downtown Brattleboro.

"This all started by talking with the youth and we never lost sight of that," Mann said. "We want to keep everyone involved and try to move forward on these recommendations."

Mann said the group will work on the plans in the coming year.

Along with planning for the future, Mann said the study offers a comprehensive look at all of the existing options in the region.

For the first time there is a single resource to find out the number of vans and vehicles owned by area agencies and groups and the number of miles the organizations put on the cars and vans.

Mann said everyone is interested in working together to try to improve mobility for everyone in the region.

"It's very exciting. Everyone has been talking about having all of this information in one place and getting a handle on the existing conditions," he said. "Getting everyone's involvement in this was crucial and we're hoping to keep working to implement the plan."

A copy of the study is available at www.windhamregional.org.