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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

BerkshireRides Hits 200,000th Ride

By Jen Thomas
10:30PM / Friday, June 08, 2007

BerkshireRides Project Manager Jana Hunkler Brule [Photo by Jen Thomas]
North Adams - Late this afternoon, the BerkshireRides initiative delivered the 200,000th ride of its' five years of service to Cindy Smith of Florida, and honored the moment by awarding Smith a blue-and-gold balloon bouquet.

Project Manager Jana Hunkler Brule termed the occasion “a really big milestone," and Smith noted the importance of the service, which operates in association with Transportation Association of Northern Berkshire Inc..


BerkshireRides delivered its' 200,000th ride to Florida resident Cindy Smith earlier today.[Photo by Jen Thomas]
"There’s a lot of people who use this," said Smith, referring to Northern Berkshire residents who rely on the employment transporation service.

"This is above and beyond what I ever imagined," said Brule. "This is just a huge number."


BerkshireRides offers transportation to residents of Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, North Adams, Savoy and Williamstown.

Employment-related rides include transportation to and from work, to job training and education opportunities, and to pre-employment physicals and drug screenings.

Fares are $1.25 each way within the Northern Berkshire selected service area, $4 each way for transportation to Pittsfield or Jiminy Peak, and no fare is charged for daycare stops, job training or education. No fare is charged for the first two weeks or employment and none is charged for passengers going to unpaid internships or volunteer work.


Operating since 2002, BerkshireRides provides 24-hour, seven-day-a-week rides. According to Brule, approximately 1,006 people utilize the service on a regular basis and the average number of rides per day is 110.

"There are so many people using [BerkshireRides] at every hour of the day, [the service] must be needed," she said.

Smith uses the service as transportation to a job at the Porches Inn on River Street almost everyday.

"It’s cheaper than a gallon of gas now," said Smith, who was also awarded a month of free rides and a complimentary lunch with co-workers for being the honored passenger.

The service makes getting to and from work much simpler, she said.

"The [Berkshire Regional Transportation Authority] buses don’t go up the mountain, so before I had to get a ride with a friend, neighbor, taxi, whatever I could get. It was tough."

The BerkshireRides concept grew from a 1998 forum with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition in which U.S. Congressman John Olver D-Amherst took part.

According to Brule, Olver agreed to secure funds for a project that would provide employment transporation to those who lacked it if it was created locally.

Five years after its' launch, the project has reached a pinnacle and the positive impact of the rides program on the community is invaluable, said Brule.

"I’ve met a lot of people who weren’t working before," she said. "Many current customers don’t have a car or don’t drive, and they didn’t have a way to get to work."

As program awareness uncreased, so has BerkshireRides participation, she noted.

"Every six months or so, we see 20 percent more ridership," said Brule.

BerkshireRides benefits include air pollution and car emission reductions and less traffic on local roadways, Brule said. Those who take advantage of the program also avoid another local woe - finding a parking spacer, she said.

Smith mentioned additional benefits.

"The drivers are very pleasant and they’re always on time," she said.

For more information or to schedule a ride, call BerkshireRides at 664-0300. Passengers must schedule their trip 24 hours in advance.

Jen Thomas may be reached via e-mail at jthomas@iberkshires.com or 413-663-3384 ext. 23.


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