Ridership rose dramatically on Pioneer Valley Transit Authority buses after Massachusetts state-financed service changes took effect earlier this year. Nationally, it appears public transit is growing more popular.
Ridership jumped 12 percent in September and 9 percent in October as the state’s second-largest transit authority rolled out the biggest change in fixed-route bus schedules in nearly a decade. PVTA Administrator Mary MacInnes said she was thrilled by the latest ridership data.
Extensive state-financed service changes are being rolled out later this month at the largest regional transit authority in western Massachusetts. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority riders are being promised faster, more efficient, and cost-effective service.
The changes include seven new routes, longer hours of service – mostly on the weekends – on 14 routes, and buses running more frequently on 15 routes. This will be the transit authority’s biggest change in fixed-route bus schedules in nearly a decade, according to PVTA Administrator Mary MacInnes.
State Transportation Secretary Richard Davey is pressing the Massachusetts Senate to approve a transportation bond bill as a new construction season approaches. The $12.7 billion bond bill approved earlier this month in a unanimous vote in the Massachusetts House includes funding for some long-sought projects in western Massachusetts.
State legislators in Massachusetts are working to write a transportation bond bill. Funding is being sought for a couple of major transportation projects in Springfield.
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority hopes to get state money to build a new maintenance and operations facility to replace a 100 –year- old former trolley barn that the administrator of the authority says is obsolete and too small to repair modern buses. Also an urgent need is seen to begin work to replace the aging elevated section of Interstate 91 in downtown Springfield.
The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday is expected to take up a transportation finance bill.
The Senate leadership is proposing to add $120 million to the $500 million dollar transportation bill approved earlier this week in the Massachusetts House. The Senate bill calls for the same tax increases as the House including a 3 cent per gallon increase in the gasoline tax. The additional money would come from existing revenue streams. Republican State Senator Michael Knapik says higher taxes is a hard sell to the public
The $500 million tax bill approved this week by the Massachusetts House to fund transportation should address the immediate financial needs of the state’s 14 regional transit authorities. But advocates for public transportation say it is a regressive approach that does not meet the demand for more bus and train service.
Operators of the largest public transit system in western Massachusetts are not planning to hike fares or cut service to close a projected budget gap. The expectation is that there will be more state funding for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and the rest of the state’s regional transit systems.
Riders of the largest public transit system in western Massachusetts no longer have a possible fare hike looming. But, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority will need more revenue next year to avoid a budget deficit and possible service cuts. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.