Letter to the editor: ACTR post office space supported

I am writing in support of ACTR and Middlebury officials and the decisions they had to make regarding Main Street parking spaces. They are completely in the right to make safe places to drop off and pick up riders near the post office. I very much wish they had dedicated more space for the busses when the hub was on Merchants Row.
When my family moved back to Middlebury from New York State several years ago, we were trying cut expenses. The fact that ACTR has so many in town bus routes made Middlebury an easy choice. Those busses became a big part of our life for much of the next five years, saving us many gallons of gasoline and miles on our family van. Ours is an able-bodied family whose only handicap was needing a stroller for young children. Those children grew to enjoy riding the bus into town or to get to school.
While utilizing the busses, I did witness numerous occasions when other people needed extra assistance. The bus drivers were happy to oblige. This service would be impossible to provide in the middle of a travel lane.
People complaining about inconvenience and ignoring the change in parking layout is indicative of a bigger and very troubling pattern I have noticed as an adult. There is a lot less common courtesy these days. It has essentially become everyone for themselves and don’t worry about anyone else’s situation. I would strongly suggest that everyone put down their phones, slow down and pay attention to what they are doing and what is happening around them. Think of the greater good!
Getting back to ACTR, as we approach the dreaded point in time where downtown Middlebury bridges will be shut down for a full summer, many changes and choices are going to be made. It will be hard to get to downtown. However, it will be even harder to have to rebuild downtown Middlebury when the dust settles if we don’t support this county hub. This will require taking steps other than driving your personal vehicle into town to do your shopping. I believe ACTR can help us all at least for daytime recreational forays into Middlebury, perhaps to see how the tunnel-project is progressing.
Long before my family moved to Cornwall, I wondered if ACTR officials had considered providing bus routes to locations in more rural parts of the county. The railroad construction constraints may provide a golden opportunity for them to explore this option, if not just for the duration of the Middlebury closures. This would allow for less traffic to come into or through Middlebury, thus reducing traffic backups and parking headaches in an already very busy downtown. In addition the regular ACTR service routes seem to mostly service communities along the Routes 7 and 116 corridors or en route to Bristol and Vergennes.
On this note, I visited my trusty Google Maps and proceeded to compare mileage distances and times from existing Tri-Town and Snow Bowl service routes to some potential new routes that could serve more of southern and western Addison County. My method resulted in routes from Middlebury through Cornwall-Whiting-Shoreham-Cornwall and Bridport-Addison-Weybridge. These routes were quite comparable to round trips for above mentioned existing routes. If Whiting is too remote or uses too many secondary roads, a Cornwall-Shoreham-Bridport route could work quite well, too. Once in town, I would hope that arrangements could be made for ACTR to include a stop at the intersection of Main St. and Merchants Row on one of their in town loops once the bridges have closed.
I realize that adding these more rural routes could be difficult and labor intensive. For one thing, agreements would have to be made to provide bus stop locations in these new towns. However, I for one would be willing to make the extra effort to ride the bus when I am not on a strict schedule.
A bus going down to Whiting would pass within a half mile of my home. If it only goes through the Cornwall village, I could still drive half the distance to Middlebury, catch the bus, and enjoy a scenic ride on my way in to enjoy some casual shopping and lunch. Even if these routes were only offered a couple times a day, like with the Rutland and Burlington connectors, one could make a nice half-day trip to help keep Middlebury the vibrant community we all enjoy.
Ian Ross

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