Sustainable Public Transit in the Valley

Topic: Creating a Sustainable Public Transit System
October ’12 Greenwork Roundtable

With four speakers and a topic I consider important I was surprised at the low attendance for this event.  Especially when I frequently hear complaints about how challenging it is to ride the bus in the Pioneer Valley and get to where you are going easily.  Because of this I’m going to share just a little about what went on.

It is not that the buses are bad; I’ve found them to be clean and the drivers pleasant.  I think the greatest challenge for me is the schedule which makes it so that I have to head home by 6:30PM – there goes taking the bus to any of my evening networking events.  The schedule also only gives me one bus per hour.  For others is can be great when the college students are around and challenging when they are gone because of reduced buses.

Here’s a brief overview in case you now wish you’d gone.

Mary McInnis gave us a ton of information and graphics on the budget and ridership.  She talked a lot about how the PVTA does outreach and what their energy efficiency plans are.  I was still shocked to find out that the regular buses get 4 mpg!!!  Don’t worry though because the PVTA also has some hybrids that get 6mpg.  Seriously.  I completely flabbergasted by the inefficiency of this.

She also showed us the budget broken down and that the only place where there is a potential for increased revenue for operating costs is by raising the fare.  Something which the 1 in 2 riders who make less than $10,000 certainly can’t support.

Neal Abraham of the 5 College Consortium gave us some info on how the Consortium works with and supports the PVTA to provide rides for students including trying out new routes to ease the passage from one college to another.

Richard Gardner, a representative of the ATU, shared that many of the drivers also are advocates and activists, something of which I was entirely unaware.  He talked about the unions role in education and awareness raising with citizens in a way that made me proud that the ATU seems to understand that connecting with the community is important.

Martina Carroll from United for Transit Equality pointed out that one of the main challenges that we are facing is that there is not enough funding for efficient transit.

So what it comes down to is that the current system is broken and there doesn’t seem to be a solution at this time.  Perhaps we’ll hear more about solutions next month as the topic is delved into further.

*Neal and Mary gave slides presentations that they are willing to share.  Contact Western Mass Jobs with Justice for more info.*

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