As 2013 comes to a close, the Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) reflects on 40 years of service to Chittenden County and Northwest and Central Vermont.
CCTA officially began offering public transportation services on July 1, 1973. On that first day of operation, service was provided with a fleet of eight buses within the communities of Burlington, Essex, South Burlington, and Winooski, and annual ridership in the first year was 694,251.
Over the next 40 years, CCTA’s service area, fleet, route network, and ridership grew substantially. By 2008, CCTA’s local service area had grown to include Shelburne and Williston, and commuter services were operating between Burlington and Montpelier, Middlebury, St. Albans, and Milton. In 2011, CCTA and the Green Mountain Transit Agency became a single organization. With the addition of GMTA’s four county service area (Washington, Lamoille, Franklin, and Grand Isle), CCTA became the state’s first and only regional transit authority.
Since 2011, commuter service has also been expanded to include Hinesburg, Jericho, Underhill, Cambridge, and Jeffersonville and commuter service will begin serving a portion of Colchester in 2014. Ridership in the most recently completed fiscal year was 2,685,288, which equates to an average annual ridership increase of 3 percent per year for 40 years.
There are many indications that the growth of the past 40 years will continue into the future. Rising fuel prices, an aging population, environmental concerns, and younger generations less interested in driving all suggest that public transportation will play an increasingly important role in Northwest and Central Vermont’s transportation system. In the immediate future, CCTA eagerly anticipates the completion of its transit station in downtown Burlington, which will replace the current facility on Cherry Street that has been undersized since the early 1980’s with a modern, safe, and comfortable place for passengers. To quote the vision statement in CCTA’s Transit Development Plan:
“CCTA will provide the region with economic development, environmental benefits and a cost effective means of transportation… By combining efforts with bicycle, pedestrian, carpool, and carshare entities, alternative modes of transportation will rival the primacy of the single occupancy vehicle and will surpass it in terms of affordability.”