This blog is written by Elena Cohen, who’s the District Director on our state Senate team and a Northampton native.
Last summer the legislature directed the establishment of a task force to look at Regional Transit Authority (RTA) performance and funding. Here is the report from the RTA Task Force. Last week, I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district and Senator Comerford’s senate team at a Task Force on Regional Transit Authority public meeting. Below is what I shared at the meeting:
Senator Comerford’s constituents take both the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) and Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA).
Without hesitation, I can say that everywhere we go in the 24 cities and towns in our district, we hear about the need for robust investment in public transportation.
Senator Comerford has heard from many constituents about the importance of these regional transit authorities as being critical to workforce development and regional economic development.
Public transportation also plays a central role in anti-poverty initiatives that help arrest a downward spiral by providing the means for people with no other alternatives to access education, healthcare, and employment.
We have also heard time and again the connection between investing in public transportation like the RTAs, and mitigating the effects climate change by getting cars off the road.
In these regards, investing in RTAs is a quadruple win: workforce development, regional economic development, breaking the cycle of poverty, and addressing climate change.
It is also a matter of regional equity. I can assure you residents of Boston are never told that the MBTA may need to cut nights and weekend service.
We may have fewer people in western Massachusetts, but our constituents need access to the same services as those of people in the densely populated areas of the state.
On behalf of Senator Comerford, we respectfully request that the Regional Transit Authorities be funded at a level that allows for routes to be restored and expanded and, buses to be scheduled with greater frequency, night and weekend service restored, and fare prices kept at current levels.
Thank you to the RTA Task Force for hearing the voices of public transit riders in western Massachusetts.
Also, last week Senator Comerford spent some time with PVTA leadership, Sandra Sheehan and Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, to discuss necessary state investment in our regional transit systems. The Senator and our team are glad to make the strongest possible case for investment in regional transit during the forthcoming budget work.