The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) will hold public hearings and outreach sessions during February and March to receive comments on proposed service changes and fare increases that would go into effect starting July 1.
PVTA was advised by the state Department of Transportation to expect level funding of the statewide regional transit authorities allocation at the fiscal 2015 level of approximately $80.4 million (PVTA’s share 29 percent). With level funding, PVTA is facing an operating budget deficit of $3.1 million for the coming 2019 fiscal year and is unable to maintain current service levels.
“I hope that by continuing to share information early and often, we can work together as advocates to secure the level of public transportation funding that PVTA and all the Massachusetts regional transit authorities need to service our customers efficiently and equitably” said Sandra Sheehan, PVTA administrator.
The proposed service changes are system wide and include:
- Reducing evening service (after 6 p.m.) on most routes
- Reducing service on non-academic weekdays in the UMass Amherst area
- Eliminating service on non-academic Sundays in the UMass Amherst area
- Restructuring low-performing routes in Easthampton, Ware, Palmer, and Holyoke
- Eliminating poor-performing routes
- Reducing service on all routes that operate on Saturdays to match the level of service operated on that route on Sundays
- Reducing service on routes that operate on holidays to match existing Sunday levels of service
The proposed fare increase would raise fares and pass prices by 25 percent and charge a $5 premium fare for ADA and senior van trips that travel outside of the federally required ¾-mile distance from a bus route. Additionally, there would be a 5 percent per year fare increase to be implemented every three years.
PVTA has not had a fare increase since 2008. A fare increase was proposed in 2012, but did not pass.
Public comments may be submitted until March 14:
- In person: Attend a public hearing or outreach session
- By mail: Send letter to: PVTA Administrator, 2808 Main St. Springfield 01107
- By email: email@example.com
- By phone: Call (413) 732-6248 x239 and leave up to a 3-minute recorded message
- Online: Visit www.pvta.com and complete the comment form
Among the scheduled public hearings are these in the UMass Amherst area:
- Wednesday, Feb. 28, 4-5:30 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. in the Northampton City Council Chambers, 212 Main St., Northampton.
- Thursday, March 1, noon-2 p.m. in 163C Campus Center.
- Tuesday, March 6, 45:30 p.m. at Amherst Bangs Community Center, 70 Boltwood Walk, Amherst.
In addition to the hearings, outreach sessions have been scheduled in Springfield, Palmer, Wilbraham, Holyoke and Westfield.
A complete list of hearings and outreach sessions and detailed information on the proposed service changes and the proposed fare increases are available at www.pvta.com.
All public comments will be given to PVTA’s Advisory Board for a final decision to be made in April.