Lily Myers, a student at the University of Vermont, has an enviable job. As the Universal Recycling Intern at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Myers travels to farmer’s markets, food festivals and music festivals to educate Vermont residents on diverting waste, composting, and recycling. However, her position also means that Myers must commute from where she lives in Burlington’s Old North End to the National Life Building in Montpellier, 39 miles away, without a car and on a student budget.
Fortunately, this is no problem for Myers.
To get to work, Myers takes the Montpelier LINK bus, which runs from Burlington and Richmond to Montpelier. The bus is actually free for UVM and Champlain College students, staff and faculty because these schools include the passes in their student’s fees. For Meyers, not only is it cost-effective, but using mass transit is also a meaningful way to reduce her impact on the environment.
“Even if you just took the bus one day a week, you could really reduce your gas usage compared to driving,” says Myers. “The ability to use the bus to get to work is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, and you get more free time because your hands don’t have to be on the wheel.”
In fact, many of the LINK passengers use the travel time to read, catch up on work—or even sleep!
Car-free in VT
Though Myers did have a car when she lived in her hometown of Calais, Myers says that owning a car was too expensive as a college student. She doesn’t find it necessary living in urban Burlington. “I walk and bike to get around Burlington, pretty much exclusively.” When she needs to find rides outside of Burlington, Myers says that she either takes the bus or is able to use Facebook to connect with friends heading in the same direction.
“Living in an urban center, it’s really great to not need a car.”
Myers notes that the local and commuter buses are punctual, and serve a variety of different places. However, some lines and stops are under-utilized, because the routes are not well-known. For instance, though the popular 1/1 E bus goes from Burlington to UMall and Williston, it can also stop along the way to service office buildings and industrial parks along Route 2.
Not surprisingly for someone who studies the environment, Myers does not limit her environmental actions to transportation. She also is working to grow some of her own food in her yard in Burlington (“The kale is just starting… I definitely started late this season,” she says with a laugh) and works to reduce electricity use in her home by unplugging appliances when they are not in use.
“It still has an environmental impact, when things are left on.” She says.
As a native Vermonter, Myers is deeply rooted to the state, now through her work with the state government and her affiliation with Vermont’s flagship state school (UVM) as well as her hometown. To Myers, it’s easy in Vermont to see why caring for the earth is important.
“I love how beautiful Vermont is, how easy it is to access nature.” She says. Each time she rides the Montpelier LINK she can see the green mountains rolling by beneath the clouds. It’s not too shabby for a daily commute.