Funding Transportation in Vermont

An Assessment of Applicable Funding Options
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 0809-04
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Due to the lack of cohesion amongst Vermont’s local transportation systems, coordination is an endeavor that is currently being considered. The current twenty-six transportation systems of Vermont have been able to operate themselves through various forms of localized and federal funding streams; but the need for a unified transportation system is essential for economic feasibility and better service for commuters throughout the state. In identifying the funding methods of successful transportation systems in Vermont and local states, an effective system that combines the unique funding qualities of similar programs can be applied. Through this method, Vermont can overlook the common fare revenue model that many states apply and see potential in other sources of funding including educational institutions, unique government grants and support, effective contracts, and generous contributions from individuals, other states and organizations.

Funding for Vermont’s current public transportation services is extremely varied and lacks the cohesion of a state-implemented solution. Therefore, to serve as points of comparison for a potential statewide public transportation effort, several other resources were identified and analyzed.

  • Systems identified were a fare free system, a contract based system and a typical fare system analyzed for comparison.
  • Differences in Federal and State Funding allocation requirements and history

Also considered are the efforts that other states are making in consolidating their own public transportation systems.

  • There are currently efforts in regions of multiple states attempting to coordinate public transportation on a regional level with the goal of reducing costs and eliminating or decreasing gaps in transit coverage
  • The coordination between human services programs and other rural transit programs pools all the funding and resources from the different sources with the ultimate goal of providing better coverage and efficiency over the entire region

With the newly incorporated option to turn to regionalization and integrating with the school transportation system, along with the current financial opportunity of the stimulus bill, Vermont currently has the opportunity it needs to improve the transportation system effectively. All of this considered our policy recommendations for the state of Vermont are as follows:

  • It may be worthwhile for Vermont to consider aggregating and coordinating the thirteen different transportation systems on a regional rather than county scale
  • Along with federal and state aid, a solid list of contributors from educational institutions is a good option to fund a transportation system in Vermont as the state boasts 24 different colleges and numerous pre college educational institutions.
  • Vermont has received $126 million under the federal stimulus package titled American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider focusing on improving transportation systems within Vermont to make sure that more time is spent using the stimulus funds appropriately instead of finding loopholes within the allocation criteria.