Advance Transit may close stop on the Orange line

by Savannah Eller | 2/28/19 2:45am

Bus riders who use the Advance Transit Orange line may see a change to their route as soon as the non-profit agency decides whether or not to discontinue its service to the Gilman Office Center on Holiday Drive in White River Junction.

The fate of the Gilman bus kiosk is contingent upon a grant proposal to add a new bus to the Orange Line, according to Advance Transit executive director Van Chesnut. AT will submit its grant proposal this spring. 

Chesnut said the line has become too busy to stay on schedule, and either the Gilman spur must be discontinued or another bus added to meet demand. 

“The ridership has grown on the route to the point that it’s just really hard for the bus driver to keep the existing schedule,” he said. 

Located at the Gilman Office Center in White River Junction, the bus stop serves about five riders per day according to Chesnut. Over two dozen businesses occupy space in Gilman, along with a Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles office and several non-profits organizations. 

AT’s free public transportation service in the Upper Valley has become increasing popular in the last few years, according to Chesnut. The addition of affordable housing complexes and new businesses in White River Junction have made the Orange line connecting Hanover and Vermont one of the fastest-growing, he said. 

“Downtown White River Junction has become quite busy,” he added. 

Every five years AT compiles a report that recommends actions on how to make its routes more efficient according to Chesnut. This year’s report recommended the closing of the Gilman stop unless another bus could be added to the route through a Vermont Department of Transportation grant, Chesnut said. 

The funds from the grant would cover 80 percent of the $200,000 yearly cost of a new bus line for three years, according to Chesnut. Stops would increase along the Orange Line route in White River Junction during peak hours, although the Gilman kiosk would be less active during midday. 

If AT is not awarded the grant, Chesnut said the Agency would be considering closing the Gilman kiosk. Bus riders wanting to use the service to get to the office center would have to walk a quarter of a mile to another stop on Sykes Mountain Avenue. The walking route does not have a sidewalk, according Chesnut. 

Gilman Office Center tenants like Green Mountain Child Care executive director Sharon Miller-Dobroski hope AT finds a way to keep the bus kiosk in operation.

Miller-Dobroski said parents who use the bus to drop off their children at the center would face a safety and logistics issue if the service was discontinued. 

“I don’t know how those parents would be able to drop off their kids safely and get back to work,” she said. “They really rely on the buses.” 

Recent announcements of new tenants at the Gilman Office Center may also mean an increase in ridership. The Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society will move its administrative offices to the office center in June, while the Hartford American Legion Post 26 plans to open a new member’s lounge and café in the coming weeks. 

Allan Reetz, spokesperson for the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society, said that although the society knew about the possible closing in advance of its decision to move, the bus stop was still an important part of the office center’s appeal. 

“I am really hopeful that something can be done to maintain that stop,” he said.