Burlington’s gleaming new Downtown Transit Center opened Thursday with a ceremony featuring a slew of city, state and federal officials. Here are seven things to know about the new bus station.
Decades in the Making
Plans for a new terminal date back to at least 1992. In subsequent years, city officials considered building it on Battery Street, near the waterfront. After a backlash from riders, who wanted a more centralized location, officials canned the idea. The latest plans came to be around 2011, according to Stephen Carlson, the Green Mountain Transit project manager.
The Right Spot
Planners considered 37 different locations for the bus stop before settling on St. Paul Street, between Cherry and Pearl streets. Green Mountain Transit owns the facility, but it was built on a city-owned right-of-way. The stop sits between the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the John J. Zampieri State Office Building, nearly directly across from the Cherry Street station, built some 30 years ago.
Mayor Miro Weinberger addresses the gathering. Seated, from left to right: Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Gov. Peter Shumlin, Peter Butler of the Federal Transit Administration, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Agency of Transportation Secretary Chris Cole
The new station offers free Wi-Fi, bathrooms and a climate-controlled indoor seating area. A ticket agent’s booth is also inside. And there will be a vending machine and water fountain. A roof covers the outside waiting area.
The transit hub cost $7.7 million and was “on budget, on schedule,” according to Carlson. About 80 percent came from the feds, 10 percent from the state and 10 percent from local funds. Workers broke ground in May 2015, began construction June 8 and put on the finishing touches Thursday morning — about 16 months from start to finish.
Megabus, Vermont Translines and Greyhound will all stop at the new hub. Vermont Translines and Greyhound currently pick up and drop off at the Burlington International Airport, but will now add downtown Burlington stops. Megabus currently stops on University Place, and will begin using the downtown transit hub for pickups and drop-offs.
Ten outdoor video boards announce bus lines and destinations. Each will have a countdown clock tracking the nearest bus. A new smartphone app will allow users to track their bus — and eventually to buy bus fares. RouteShout goes online Friday morning.
After some last-minute glass installation, the first buses used the hub around 4 p.m. Thursday. A delegation of local, state and federal officials kicked off the opening day festivities, which included speeches — and a bus plowing through a banner in a unique ribbon-cutting ceremony.