Donuts & Hogwarts: A Transit Travel Training Case Study

One thing a group of Millennial cartoonists doesn’t need is help using a smartphone app – especially an intuitive one that shows the real-time location of buses in the rural transit system, Advance Transit. No, a lack of tech savvy is not the barrier keeping these students off the bus. It’s more like,

“Cool, there’s an app, but how do I know the name of the bus stop out front?”
“Does the bus go to the theater where Black Panther is playing?”
“I’m just nervous to try the bus—what if it doesn’t show up?” 

Over Vital Communities’ two-year partnership with Advance Transit to promote their real-time bus system, we’ve learned that it often takes a little extra to get people confidently riding transit. “Travel training,” which traditionally only serves people who need special assistance, can be valuable to almost anyone.

Car ownership is low among the several dozen students at the Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) in downtown White River Junction—a Master of Fine Arts program in sequential art. The school has consistently promoted Advance Transit as a way to explore the Upper Valley. But in talking to several alums, we discovered that many CCS students were hesitant to try the free bus, and tended to stay close to campus.

We decided to change this by partnering with a recent graduate now employed by the school –who had never been on Advance Transit either but was eager to help. He distributed a simple graphic flyer (right and below) to students that promised a Friday afternoon bus trip to neighboring Hanover to get donuts from famed Lou’s Restaurant & Bakery and visit Dartmouth’s “Hogwarts-esque” Baker Library.

On a sunny February day, I met a dozen students and alums in the school’s lobby. I prompted them to download Advance Transit’s real-time app and gave them a bus system overview—how to find the bus stops, which routes run where, etc. Then we walked around the block to the bus stop and took the 15 minute trip from White River Junction to Hanover, New Hampshire.

Once in Hanover, we picked up an overstuffed bakery box of assorted donuts from Lou’s and walked across the Green to Baker Library. The students had a great time

digging into the comics and graphic novel section of the library “stacks” and then tiptoeing through the ornate Tower Room.

Many had never been to Baker before—even though CCS maintains a library card there for its students. But now this vast resource is only a short bus ride away.

Aside from giving a few pointers, I didn’t have to do much after the students boarded the bus in White River. That’s just it. Simply getting them on the bus that first time undid the majority of their concerns about the bus. After all, they had watched the bus’s movement on the real-time app while they waited at the bus stop, and then a knowledgeable and friendly driver picked them up on time and took them to Hanover, as promised. Sure, they still had to learn their way around town and get on the right bus, but the bus was now a known and trusted entity. Perhaps Robyn, an alum, put it best: “I just needed someone who knew the system to go with me the first time.” And remembering the impact of a coworker first taking me on Advance Transit almost two decades ago, I think she’s right.

– Bethany Fleishman, Transportation Program Manager at Vital Communities/Upper Valley Transportation Management Association

Buses are FREE Thursday for Dump the Pump Day!

Join people around the Upper Valley and nationwide and take the bus Thursday, June 21 for the 13th annual Dump the Pump Day. Stagecoach and Connecticut River Transit (“The Current”) will be FARE-FREE. And Advance Transit is ALWAYS FREE! 

Need some reasons? Here are a few.

Public Transportation Saves Money

  • A household can save nearly $10,000 by getting rid of one car and taking the bus instead.
  • New Hampshire and Vermont drivers spend more than $1 BILLION annually on fuel and most of those dollars leave the state.

Public Transportation Reduces Gasoline Consumption

  • ​Public transportation saves Americans 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.

Public Transportation Is Better for the Environment

  • ​Communities that invest in public transit reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually

Public Transportation Is Safer Than Automobile Travel

  • Traveling by bus is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by automobile.

Public Transportation Boosts the Economy

  • Every $1 invested in public transportation generates $4 in economic returns.

Y’all Curbed the Car!

On Friday, May 18, the Upper Valley celebrated its newest holiday: Curb the Car Day.20180518_080014-PH

Riffing off National Bike to Work Day, Curb the Car Day embraces all forms of non-drive-alone commutes: biking, walking, taking transit, telecommuting, carpooling, vanpooling, and more. 

Seven workplaces participated in the event, with participants receiving free breakfast snacks, coffee, and swag. See some event photos below! 

One organizer-participant — Erin from the Upper Valley Haven — penned this poem to rouse interest among her coworkers and other commuters traveling by the Haven’s Curb the Car Day station on Route 5 in Wilder:

Curb Your Car Day is tomorrow,
Ride your bike and you won’t feel sorrow.

Take the bus, walk or carpool,
Trust me, you will be SO cool!
A light breakfast will be served on site,
So come have a little bite.
Afterwards you can take a shower
And bask in all your power.


Bus-Bike-Car Race Finish



IMG_20180518_083408880-Linda Gray

Featuring Your Friends & Neighbors!

Recognize anyone? Thanks to some dedicated bus riders with bright smiles and great stories, we’ve put together this poster series promoting Advance Transit’s real-time system (scroll down to see them all). These are all REAL Upper Valley folks who have made Advance Transit part of their day. Want to see your face on the next series? E-mail us!

Poster Series Winter 2018-page-006Poster Series Winter 2018-page-005Poster Series Winter 2018-page-004Poster Series Winter 2018-page-003Poster Series Winter 2018-page-002Poster Series Winter 2018-page-001

About the Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (UVTMA)

The Vital Communities Transportation Program convenes the Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (UVTMA), a membership-based group of workplaces, transportation providers, municipalities, and planners. Dues-paying members are eligible for customized programs and services for their town or workplace.

Join us to help solve the transportation challenges affecting the Upper Valley. E-mail Bethany to learn more about becoming a UVTMA member.

UVTMA Steering Committee

  • Dartmouth-Hitchcock: Tom Carlson
  • Norwich: Susan Hardy
  • Hanover: Rob Houseman
  • Lebanon: Rebecca Owens
  • Hartford: Matt Osborn
  • Dartmouth College: Patrick O’Neill
  • Enfield: Rob Taylor
  • Lyme: Daniel Brand
  • New England Transportation Institute: Matthew Coogan
  • Hanover Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee: Scot Drysdale
  • Upper Valley Business Alliance: Tracy Hutchins
  • Advance Transit: Van Chestnut
  • At Large: Patricia Higgins
  • Hypertherm: John Rooney
  • Hartland Energy Committee: Karl Kemnitzer
  • UVLSRPC: Meghan Butts
  • TRORC: Rita Seto
  • MARC: Jason Rasmussen
  • Southwestern Community Services: Teri Palmer
  • Stagecoach: Mike Reiderer
  • Vital Communities: Bethany Fleishman & Mike Kiess

Remembering Shawn Donovan

With great sadness we announce that Lebanon resident Shawn M. Donovan, one of the co-founders of the Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (UVTMA), passed away on February 19 at age 70 – see the obituary in the Valley News.

Shawn was the epitome of the dedicated civic servant – a talented engineer, a natural born leader, and a major contributor to many good causes in the Upper Valley. He was a collaborator and synthesizer who truly embodied the vision of a “vital community.”

The UVTMA was formed in 2002 after several lunch meetings at the Polka Dot Diner in White River Junction with Shawn, who was a planner for Dartmouth College, as well as transportation expert Dan Brand of Lyme and Vital Communities’ then Executive Director Len Cadwallader. The UVTMA, a membership-based group of workplaces, transportation providers, municipalities, and planners, has been dedicated ever since to reducing reliance on driving alone.

In addition to his instrumental role in forming the UVTMA, Shawn’s accomplishments are many. Here are a few:

  • Helped develop the Hanover Shuttle Bus System in the 1980’s, which served downtown employees, including those from the college and hospital, which was located in Hanover at that time
  • Served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of Advance Transit for seven years and helped to find and hire Van Chesnut, AT’s Executive Director
  • Served as the Board Chair of the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission (UVLSRPC) and served for many years as Lebanon’s representative to that commission
  • Worked on transit-oriented development projects in the Boston metropolitan area and in Montpelier, Vermont
  • Instrumental in creating Dismas House, a half-way house in Hartford that helps non-violent offenders make the re-entry from incarceration to society smoothly, safely, and successfully
  • Advocated for the residents of the encampment behind the plazas in West Lebanon while they were under threat of eviction
  • Led the process of introducing the Sanctuary movement to Hanover Friends Meeting which resulted in the faith community becoming a Level 2 Congregation
  • Participated regularly in the monthly vigils at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices at the federal building in Manchester, New Hampshire.

We wish to share some of Shawn’s own words of wisdom for the Upper Valley. In 2003, he addressed a group at the annual visioning forum organized by Vital Communities, the Montshire Museum and the League of Women Voters. In that speech, Shawn laid out his vision for transportation in a more livable Upper Valley.

“We need a new land use pattern, one that harkens back to our historic, traditional neighborhood patterns, more pedestrian friendly neighborhoods. We need neighborhoods that are linked to public transit service lines that can get people to work.  We need neighborhoods that have sidewalks that can bring them all the way downtown.  We need collector roads and arterial streets with bus shelters along them.

“Our traditional, multi-use neighborhoods work: these are places where not only do people live but have neighbors, children play in the school play yard, adults talk over the backyard fence, children can walk to school, parents can walk to the market, to the post office, to the restaurant and maybe even walk to work. 

The TMA shares that vision and strives to continue his work. Thank you for your contributions, Shawn. We miss you, and may you rest in peace.

 –  By Bethany Fleishman, Vital Communities Transportation Program Manager; Dan Brand, UVTMA representative from Lyme; and Len Cadwallader, former Executive Director of Vital Communities