November 8, 2021
From: Advance Transit
Release Prepared by: Gary Daniels, Director of Philanthropy and Marketing, 603-505-1110
Contact for more information: Van Chesnut, Advance Transit Executive Director, 802-356-5851, 802-295-1824 ext. 201
Van Chesnut to retire after 34 years as Advance Transit Executive Director
Longtime Advance Transit Executive Director Van Chesnut plans to retire next year. Chesnut said “I have served as Advance Transit’s Executive Director for 34 years. The time has finally come to begin the search process for AT’s next ED so I can spend more time with my family, especially my three granddaughters.”
“Cope and Associates, Inc. has been hired to provide support to AT’s Board by managing the national search process. I am confident that it will be an orderly and fruitful process. I will continue as ED during the search process and to assure a smooth transition will be available for a period of time to support AT when a new leader is on board.”
Board President Matt Osborn commented that “Van’s tenure and success are unique in rural public transit. Working with partners and staff, he has built one of the most creative and successful rural transit systems in the country. Our board and the entire Upper Valley are indebted to Van for the improvements AT has brought to our community.”
Since joining AT in 1987, Chesnut has worked to build relationships with public and private sector partners, including the states of New Hampshire and Vermont, The City of Lebanon, The Towns of Canaan, Enfield, Hanover, Hartford, and Norwich and regional planning organizations in both New Hampshire and Vermont. In the private sector Dartmouth College, Dartmouth- Hitchcock Medical Center have been leaders in supporting and utilizing public transit in the Upper Valley.
Chesnut enlisted the assistance of the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) to quantify Advance Transit’s space needs and evaluate building sites. CTAA also provided financing assistance for the new building. Advance Transit cut the ribbon for the new facility at the “Billings Dairy Site” in the fall of 1994. With support from the federal and state government as well as from generous donors, AT expanded its LEED Certified facility in 2011, retiring the mortgage on the expansion in 2013, and continually improved the bus fleet culminating with the delivery of 5 electric buses in the summer of 2022.
AT’s ridership grew from less than 100,000 per year when Chesnut started in 1987 to 289,389 in 2000. AT introduced system-wide fare free service in 2002 with a two-year demonstration program sponsored by Dartmouth College, DHMC, State of Vermont. Since then, annual ridership has grown to a pre-pandemic high of over 900,000. Ridership growth has been enhanced with regular service improvement plans, called Transit Development Plans, that identify opportunities for service improvements.
AT’s “Keep It Free” fund has grown as well with many individual donors, businesses, and charitable foundations, donating over $1,500,000 since 2005. And AT’s Sponsorship Program, which sells space for signs on the buses, raises over $60,000 per year. This generous community support has enabled AT to remain fare free and to have modern, environmentally sound buses and facilities.
Chesnut commented that “AT continued to operate throughout the pandemic because of the AT staff who worked diligently every day, the riders, many of whom were providing life-saving and essential services, and the partners who together enabled AT to continue service”.
Chesnut remarked that “AT is highly valued by the community and with our partners we have earned an outstanding reputation within the public transit industry regionally and nationally. We have a professional, mission-driven staff, a modern fleet, and well-equipped facilities and our company is on sound financial footing. AT is guided by one of the best boards in the Upper Valley. AT will continue to help keep the Upper Valley Moving Forward.”