The Vermont Clean Cities Coalition at UVM’s Transportation Research Center is part of a team that was recently awarded a Mobility and Transportation Innovations (MTI) Grant from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans). The funds from the grant will be used to research and design a pilot that will combine public, Medicaid, and school transportation into a single electrified public transportation system.

VTCCC Coordinator, Peggy O’Neill-Vivanco, partnered with representatives from the Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP), Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), Green Mountain Transit (GMT) and the Energy Action Network (EAN) to design the project. Inspired by the diverse transportation needs of their respective stakeholder groups and their collective work at Transportation For Vermonters (T4VT), the project team will design a pilot to purchase and deploy small electric buses to serve 1-2 rural school systems and their surrounding communities. The project will also include a detailed study to assess the opportunities and barriers of combining services: evaluating right-sizing vehicles, optimal service routes, and fleet sizes, all while drawing from fleet electrification experiences in Vermont and other states.

As a member of the project’s steering committee, Peggy will assist with designing the pilot program and will engage pilot partners and stakeholders to develop solutions to the barriers to combined school and transit routes. Part of Peggy’s role will also include initial research and inquiry into Burlington’s existing combined routes program – meeting with GMT and the Burlington school district to gain an understanding of the benefits and lessons learned.

In addition to improving mobility for Vermonters through increased transit routes, the potential benefits of combining and electrifying Vermont’s rural transit system include:

  • Reduction in greenhouse gas and other air pollutant emissions through transition from diesel or gasoline vehicles to electric vehicles and reductions in vehicle miles traveled
  • Lower energy use through reduction in number of vehicles needed to support combined service
  • Increased system efficiency in the form of operational savings associated with electric vehicles and maximizing the passenger capacity of transit vehicles
  • Lower transportation costs for Vermont’s school districts

Working with a variety of statewide stakeholders, the project team hopes to have the pilot completely designed by the end 2021 and to initiate it in two of Vermont’s rural school districts and their respective communities in 2022.

PUBLISHED: 11-19-2020