Electric Bus in front of VT Statehouse

Goal:  Prepare Vermont to have the most efficient, equitable, and cost-effective rural transportation system in the US by combining public, Medicaid, and school transportation into a single electrified public transportation system.  


The Future of Rural Transit project builds relationships between transit agencies and school districts in Vermont to enhance student transportation and equity. Right now, and with modest effort, public transit can improve access and equity for students by filling gaps in existing school bus service. With increased coordination between schools and transit, there will be future opportunities to combine some school bus and public transit routes to further expand access as well as reduce community costs and emissions.

Map of all transit routes in Vermont and schools that are within 3 miles of a route

In much of the US, schools operate student-dedicated transit, transporting 26  million students on over 480,000 yellow school buses every year. This makes the national school bus fleet the largest US transit fleet at 2.5 times the size of all other transit vehicle fleets combined. In Vermont, school transportation is a funding and management burden for communities. At the same time, there is existing public transportation service in many parts of Vermont that can be strengthened with greater ridership and community support. What if we transform that burden for the schools into additional ridership and support for public transit? Some Vermont communities have already chosen this path. Students in Burlington as well as some rural schools, such as Sharon Academy, across the state take the town bus to go to school. Communities adopting this path often have concerns about safety and student accommodation however in the words of a Burlington student “I never felt unsafe on the public bus. We were allowed to take on large bags of skis, instruments. Overall, it worked out well. On the Morning neighborhood special, you would get to know your driver.”

This project has worked with a range of education, transit, planning, and community stakeholders to identify the benefits of leveraging public transit service to enhance school transportation. This includes researching existing models in which school districts use transit to safely transport students, partnering with two school districts to explore the opportunity to collaborate with transit providers, and mapping existing transit routes their proximity to schools.

Network members and partners guiding this effort:

  • VEIC 
  • VT Clean Cities Coalition 
  • Vermont Energy Education Program – VEEP
  • Green Mountain Transit – GMT 
  • VTrans – Public Transit 
  • Plus Advisors from: AARP, Vermont Center for Independent Living, VT Superintendents Association, Green Mountain Power, Vital Communities, Regional Planning Commissions, School Superintendents and leadership, and others.


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Future of Rural Transit Feasibility Study

Slides about the project and its findings

Project Overview Slides_regional planners (1)

Innovating School Transportation Webinar (Jan 2023) YouTube Link

Background Information

Vermont Agency of Transportation Zero-Emission Transition Plan

Press Release about Pilot Study Communities

Initial Project Description

Video of this Pitch at the October 2020 EAN Summit 

If you are interested in learning more or getting involved in this project, please contact Cara Robechek cara@eanvt.org.

Note: Network Action Team projects were selected by the Network membership through a competitive process at the EAN annual summit.  Although Network members may support specific policy actions as part of their work on these Action Teams, EAN staff serve in the role of neutral convener and refrain from advocating for specific policies.

Contact EAN

  • Jared Duval

    Jared Duval

    Executive Director
    802‑829‑7421   jduval@eanvt.org
  • Cara Robechek

    Cara Robechek

    Deputy Dir. & Network Manager
    802-552-8450   cara@eanvt.org
  • Lena Stier

    Lena Stier

    Data Manager
    802-735-3894   lena@eanvt.org
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