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Montpelier, Vermont, became an early adopter of on-demand buses as part of the MyRide two-year pilot project.

Montpelier, Vermont, became an early adopter of on-demand buses as part of the MyRide two-year pilot project.

Photographer: Tara Wray/Bloomberg

Microtransit Programs Promise On-Demand Transportation For All

But in small towns and cities, pilot programs underscore the inefficiencies and high costs inherent in this model. 

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Just before dawn on an autumn morning, Anne Watson, mayor of Montpelier, Vermont, is standing outside in the cold, waiting for a bus that could help to remake rural America. In January 2021, Montpelier, a state capital of 7,500 people, became an early adopter of a transportation system that advocates hope will breathe new life into the nation’s small towns, where residents are more auto-dependent, more apt to be disabled, and poorer and older than in cities.