Gov. Peter Shumlin, state transportation officials and legislators today announced a plan to reduce travel and parking demand among state workers, and expand parking at the popular Richmond Park and Ride bus stop off Interstate 89.
The Governor outlined a pilot project to encourage the use of public transportation, van pools, car-pooling, biking and walking to work in Montpelier. Among the changes, the state is offering a 50 percent discount on tickets for state workers for Montpelier-bound buses from Burlington, the Northeast Kingdom, Randolph and other established routes.
Among other changes included in the pilot project are preferential parking spaces for car-pool and van-pool vehicles; a "Bike/Walk Rewards' program, under which local business incentives will be given; a guaranteed ride home for those who use a van- or car-pool but then need an emergency ride home during the day; and funding a feasibility study for a car-share program.
"The cheapest parking space is the one we don't have to build. That is what this pilot is all about -- reducing parking demand to save the taxpayers' money by avoiding building expensive infrastructure." Gov. Shumlin said. "These changes will also help commuters save money, ease parking problems in Montpelier, and reduce the state's carbon footprint. Everybody wins."
"VSEA is pleased to voice support for the state's 50 percent bus pass subsidy offer and thank the Governor for being proactive in doing what needed to be done to make this offer possible," said Bonnie Boyce, an Administrative Secretary in the AG's Office and a VSEA member working on the parking issue. "We think this is a positive move forward in reducing the carbon footprint of state employees commuting to work, and it will help ease the daily shortage of parking in our Capitol City."
"We hope that through these collaborative efforts we can reduce some of the parking issues that create difficulties for state employees and others who want to travel to Montpelier, particularly during the legislative season," said Human Resources Commissioner Kate Duffy.
In addition, the Governor and the chairmen of the House and Senate Transportation Committees announced that an expansion project to add 53 new parking spots at the Richmond Park and Ride will begin construction in late July or early August. The new parking lot will be completed this construction season with some landscaping to be completed in the spring. The contractor will use phased construction techniques which will allow approximately 80 percent of the park and ride lot to be used at any one time during construction. The project cost is approximately $1 million, and includes a new signal at the Park and Ride entrance and roadway improvements at the Route 117 intersection.
The FY14 Transportation Bill adds an additional 500 park and ride spaces statewide to the transportation program.
Details of the state employee commuting package include:
· The 50 percent bus subsidy for state employees traveling to Montpelier; pilot project will determine cost of the subsidy.
· Guaranteed ride home; cost of $700 (federally funded); addresses a concern among commuters that they will urgently need a ride home during off-hours (because of sick children, for example).
· Preferential parking at National Life and the Capitol complex; cost of $300 for new signage (federally funded).
· Investigate a "Commuter Choice Benefit" pre-tax contribution, similar to a 401K contribution, for monthly public transit and van-pool expenditures.
· Marketing the pilot project; cost of $1,000.