ACTR bus company marks 25 years on the go
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Transit Resources (ACTR) began its journey back in 1992 with a handful of volunteer drivers believing they could make a difference for shut-ins, the disabled and people who couldn’t afford their own vehicles.
A quarter-century later, ACTR provides more than 180,000 rides per year through six different public bus routes helping people get around Addison County and to Rutland and Burlington.
“I’m happy; we’re meeting a lot of needs out there,” said ACTR Executive Director Jim Moulton, who took the steering wheel of the nonprofit back in 2002.
“We have put the service in place, and people have used it.”
Moulton is hoping a lot of ACTR’s clients will help the organization celebrate its 25th birthday at a Community Jamboree, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Middlebury Recreation Park near Mary Hogan Elementary School. There will be live music, family-friendly activities and free safety gear for bikers and pedestrians — including toddler helmets from Frog Hollow Bikes and flashing reflectors from ACTR.
Participants will revisit a story that continues to grow, as demand for ACTR’s services jumps in relation to an aging state population and volatile fuel prices.
“There are quite a few people in the county and region who don’t have transportation of their own, and these are our biggest users,” Moulton noted.
But at the same time, Moulton pointed to other riders who have simply decided to forego a vehicle for the convenience of public transportation.
“Knowing we have had a quality-of-life impact on so many people is very satisfying,” he said.
ACTR’s numbers are pretty impressive.
When Moulton joined ACTR in 2002, he was one of 11 full- and part-time workers operating out of the Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) Community Services Building on Boardman Street. Office quarters were tight and the HOPE parking lot could not fully accommodate ACTR’s modest bus fleet, which served at the time two public bus routes: The Middlebury In-Town Shuttle and Tri-Town Shuttle connecting Bristol, Vergennes and Middlebury.
Fast forward to today.
ACTR now proudly occupies a 12,500-square-foot community transportation center on Creek Road, completed in 2013 at a cost of around $4.3 million. The facility comfortably houses 32 jobs, and a fleet of 21 buses. In addition to the aforementioned In-town and Tri-Town Shuttles, ACTR also offers the Snow Bowl Shuttle, the Route 116 Commuter, the Rutland Connector and the Burlington Link.
It continues to offer a “Dial-a-Ride” system that takes elders, the disabled, Medicaid-eligible residents and many other vulnerable populations to medical services, work, grocery stores and meal sites.
“For a county of 36,000 people, it’s a pretty robust system,” Moulton said.
And ACTR is not only vested in Addison County.
Earlier this year, ACTR formally merged with Stagecoach Transportation Services — which provides transportation to residents in Orange County and the northern part of Windsor County — to create a combined organization known as Tri-Valley Transit Inc. The agreement calls for ACTR to serve as the administrative hub for Stagecoach. Both transit organizations continue to run their own routes, but the association is creating savings in bus purchases and related equipment. It is also allowing ACTR and Stagecoach to share some workers, according to Moulton.
“We’ve been seeing benefits,” Moulton said.
The two organizations have a combined 36 buses that are maintained in-house.
Adam Lougee is a longtime ACTR board member. He is pleased with how the nonprofit has grown and met the needs of local travelers and commuters.
“ACTR helps a lot of members of our community get to work, seek care or enjoy social events, every day, on schedule, day in and day out,” he said. “ACTR’s services help to complete our transportation network, so that it provides ‘transportation for everyone’ within the community. Over the years, it has been a pleasure to watch ACTR’s organization and services grow to reach beyond Middlebury out into other communities in the Addison region and beyond. ACTR’s a well-run organization with great people and an innovative service culture. I have really enjoyed helping ACTR expand and thrive over the time I have spent on the board.”
Those who attend the Sept. 16 Jamboree are encouraged to bring some non-perishable donations for a “Stuff-The-Bus” food drive benefitting local food shelves. Stuff-The-Bus donors will get a free ice cream cone and an earful of music performed by Full Share. The event will also feature pet adoption ambassadors with their four-legged friends, a bocce tutorial from a Special Olympian, face painting, and a Bike-A-Palooza course and games for kids. The Middlebury Rotary Club will operate a concession stand. Food concessions will be affordably priced and all other Community Jamboree offerings are free of charge, according to organizers.
More information about ACTR can be found at actr-vt.org.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]
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