BRATTLEBORO -- Since taking over the Beeline bus route from the town of Brattleboro in November 2010, Connecticut River Transit officials have been listening to passengers, taking notes and thinking about ways to improve the service.
As part of the deal to run the town's bus line, CRT had to agree not to make any changes for at least one year.
Now the company is moving ahead with its plan to extend the service into Hinsdale, N.H., and offer more routes around Brattleboro that CRT Executive Director Mary Habig says will make it easier for riders to get around town.
"For the past year we have been collecting data, and talking and listening," Habig said during a public hearing Monday where she unveiled the changes. "The main thing we heard was that people wanted to cut down on the amount of time it took to get through town and that's what we are doing."
The company is completely rewriting its schedule and routes, using the downtown transportation center as the hub of its operations.
Busses going up Putney Road and Western Avenue, and into Hinsdale, will be scheduled into and out of the transportation center so that riders can make the connections if they want to get on to a second bus.
The new schedule and service will most likely start on Aug. 27.
Habig said the changes were made after CRT finished a nine month study.
Fares will not go up and will still cost $1.
The Current, which is the name
The bus service into Hinsdale was made possible by a $15,500 contribution from the town of Hinsdale, and an $18,600 grant from the state of New Hampshire.
The Blue Line bus will go all the way to Hinsdale, and will include a swing to the new Veteran's Administration medical office in the Exit 1 Industrial Park in Brattleboro.
The bus routes will also make stops at some of the larger employers in town, including the Brattleboro Retreat, Omega Optical and Green Mountain Creamery.
Habig said with the current service, a rider might have to spend two hours on the bus to get from Putney Road up Western Avenue.
The new routes are timed so that a passenger can take a bus into the transit center, and then make a connection on to a second bus.
Connecticut River Transit got the Beeline account after the Brattleboro Selectboard voted in June 2010 to give up running the town's bus service.
The town has continued its $50,000 contribution to the Current's annual budget since turning operations over to CRT.
Brattleboro was the only town in the state at the time to run its own bus service.
The town was administering a Vermont Agency of Transportation grant to run the service, but the board decided it made more sense to turn that grant over to a professional bus company.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 279. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.