A new online survey led by regional planning students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst seeks Pioneer Valley residents’ input about their use of Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) services and the improvements they would like to see the transit authority implement.
The survey is part of Valley On Board, a project funded by a 2020 Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) Grant from the Federal Transit Administration, which aims to redesign the regional transit network to better serve current and future riders over the next 20 years and help educate people about the future of transit. Because everyone’s needs are unique, public input is crucial to designing effective and equitable transit networks and the responses to the brief survey, which can be quickly completed anywhere, will support the feedback received at public meetings.
To increase equity, the project’s students are particularly focused on collecting feedback for improving the PVTA in environmental justice communities – minority, low-income, tribal or indigenous populations or communities facing environmental threats or persistent poverty – and they have been tabling at community events such as the Spooktacular in Chicopee, Survival Centers and have hosted workshops with Hadley and Springfield high school students. The online survey, which will be open to responses through December, will add to the hundreds of responses and comments the project’s students have already collected.
Under the direction of Camille Barchers, assistant professor of regional planning at UMass Amherst, Valley On Board is part of a larger two-year partnership between the PVTA, the UMass Amherst Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning department and Civil and Environmental Engineering department, and Western New England University. PVTA was awarded the grant funds for the Pioneer Valley Transit Review and Improvement Planning Study (PV-TRIPS) to conduct a comprehensive assessment and strategic planning of routes, services and facilities to inform the design of a sustainable transit system to support economic vitality across the Pioneer Valley.
The survey is the third of four phases of the Valley On Board project. Phase I consisted of an analysis of the current PVTA network, scenario planning to envision future contexts and the design of proposed route alternatives to enhance transit service, while Phase II involved research into energy modeling, transit data and technology use, and fare and financing models. Following completion of the survey, and for the project’s fourth and final phase, PVTA will finish the review process and develop a finance and implementation plan.
Upon completion of the survey, participants can enter a raffle to win one of four $25 Visa gift cards. The raffle closes Dec. 31, and winners will be notified via email. On Dec. 7, the students will incorporate responses received from the survey to that point in a presentation that will be livestreamed on the Valley On Board website.
More information about the Valley On Board project, including a link to the survey, the project’s first report from 2021 and a list of upcoming events, can be found at www.ValleyOnBoard.org.
This story was featured on Channel 22: Local News Station for the Pioneer Valley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QlUOraPTUc