CRT and DVTA is now Southeast Vermont Transit
BRATTLEBORO — The region's two bus companies have completed a deal that creates one single company to manage public transit service throughout Windham County and portions of Windsor County.
Connecticut River Transit transferred its assets to Deerfield Valley Transit Association and the new company will now operate as Southeast Vermont Transit.
The deal was neither a merger nor a consolidation, Southeast Vermont Transit CEO Randy Schoonmaker said, but rather a dissolving of one company, CRT, and then a transferring of its assets to another company, DVTA.
"Our riders should not see any changes," Schoomaker said. "The buses have the same names on them and the routes are not changing for now."
Southeast Vermont Transit operates Brattleboro's town bus service, as well as service to the Deerfield River Valley and up to Rockingham. The company also runs buses up to the Hanover-Norwich area.
Southeast Vermont Transit will provide nearly a half million rides annually with 55 buses, and the company is expected to gross nearly $7 million in operating income.
Discussions on the deal started almost two years ago and on Jan. 1 the boards of directors of the two companies combined into a single eight-member board. The deal was completed on July 1.
The company is close to completing work on its new $5.6 million facility in Wilmington. There is work planned for the Rockingham site as well and Schoomaker said the company will continue to explore the feasibility of expanding service up Route 30 into the West River Valley.
Schoomaker said the company has already saved some money when going out to bid on supplies and the staff members in Wilmington and Rockingham are getting used to working more closely together.
"This was not just done to save money or slim down," Schoomaker said. "It made sense to share strategies and share resources. We were two neighboring agencies with a lot in common."
Ross MacDonald, a public transit coordinator at VTrans, said the state agency advocated for the change after the CRT board did not renew Mary Habig's contract. MacDonald said CRT had a number of executive directors through the years and the state saw an opportunity to bring the two organizations together.
"We saw the upheaval these changes caused. Randy runs an organization as effectively as anyone in the state and we thought it was a great opportunity," MacDonald said. "Both entities are controlled by local boards, and we had some difficult conversations, but at the end of the day we were able to satisfy enough board members about this."
With the deal complete Southeast Vermont Transit becomes the third or fourth largest public transit companies in the state, depending if you consider miles travelled or budget.
Independently, CRT and DVTA were two of the smallest and MacDonald said the new company works for the region and for the state.
"It allows two entities to better share resources," said MacDonald. "And it works for VTrans too because it means we have one less grant to administer and one less audit to review."
Windham Regional Commission Senior Planner Matt Mann said rural bus companies face many challenges, and he said bringing two companies together makes it that much easier to successfully run the service.
"If you can take advantage of efficiencies it is a good thing," he said. "We are not going to see all those efficiencies at once but in the long run I think we will see benefits. We are going to learn as we go, but so far it has gone very smoothly."
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