PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Groups looking to create a transportation management authority will soon turn their eye toward getting private-sector involvement.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Transportation Program Planner Clete Kus said the plans are aimed to improve transportation in the rural area. In briefing the Metropolitan Planning Organization, Kus said the idea is to create a membership-based organization to shuttle people in rural areas, helping them get to jobs.
"It's a membership-based organization where you get the business community along with institutions and possibility municipalities, develop an agreement and focus on providing and delivering transportation options," Kus said.
The idea stemmed from a summit held by state Sen. Adam Hinds at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts last year. Organizations had come together to discuss ways to address rural transportation. Kus said an idea was crafted to create new circular routes with the existing public transit system.
"A lot of time and effort went into looking at the best option for a circulator route as well as what the cost will be," Kus said, But, "it would be a relatively high cost to increase the frequency and it wouldn't really get at the first and last mile initiative."
The concept shifted. MCLA, the senator's office, Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, 1Berkshire and BRPC then worked through the concept of a TMA. It would essentially get businesses to contribute a fee to be part of it and shuttle vans already in existence with other organizations would be deployed to get people from their homes and to one of the main bus routes. And then from the bus route to the job. And back.
"The reality is that there is a big question of how do we improve rural transportation? Is there a hybrid approach to what the BRTA provides but then using other aspects around the county like your senior vans, off-duty school vans and buses, vets vans, and paratransit," Hinds said last week.
Kus said the effort is now switching from the planning stages to getting private-sector companies on board.
"The private sector is going to be asked to come up with money to help defray the cost and depending on how well that is perceived will really determine if this moves forward," Kus said.
Kus added, "there are other options that could defray the cost. Members of the TMA, instead of providing a cash payment, one concept is to have them use vehicles or staff to be drivers."
While getting the private sector to contribute is going to be the main focus soon, Kus said there is also still some work in identifying the readership and the employers. He's thinking something like an automated call center would be the best option for that.
The concept isn't really new as there are plenty throughout the country. But, the majority of those are in urban areas.
"There are a number of TMAs operating in the state and across the United States. There are a lot of models but not so much for rural areas," Kus said.
MPO member Jim Lovejoy said he is supportive of the effort. But, he does question whether such an effort will do the trick. He said the distances and the lack of population pose the biggest challenges to rural transportation because it adds to the cost.
"It seems like there are some basic bedrock problems with this," Lovejoy said.
Kus said there is no doubt it will cost money because there is always the cost of vehicles and people to drive. And the concept is far from a "done deal." Nonetheless, a collaborative of organizations is working on it and a program to help those in rural areas get to work and back easier is being developed.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Why not work for a partial solution by encouraging employment agencies, employers and prospective employees without transportation to give preference to hire/apply within 2-3 miles of home? This is for low paying jobs.
Even it eliminates 10-15% of te need for transportation it would b e a success.
Also: Provide those with cars cash incentives to car pool with others that work for different employers in nearby areas. Have state employment agencies do the computer matching for car pool members. Incentives must be worthwhile for drivers. Use public transit funds.
Gotta Dance, Gotta Sing: There's Both This Week on Local Stages
By Grace LichtensteinGuest Column
Downtown Pittsfield Third Thursdays — TL Collective
Each third Thursday of the month, streets are closed in downtown Pittsfield and all kinds of music rocks the city. Featured June 20 at 6 p.m. in the Dance Zone at the north end of the street festival is TL Collective, the athletic, family-friendly contemporary and hip-hop moves of Micaela Taylor's company. The group performs an evening length work "Drift." The aim, according to organizers, is to "demonstrate an individual's ever-changing relationship to self while exposing a personal season of self-growth."
You can find the dance zone near the corner of Bradford and North Streets in front of St. Joseph’s Church. This program is a presentation of the Berkshires stalwart Jacob's Pillow.
Ballet BC is coming to Jacob's Pillow this week.
At the Pillow's expansive home in Becket, the featured company in the Ted Shawn Theater this week is Ballet BC, which is celebrating 10 years under the innovative leadership of artistic director and former company member Emily Molnar.
"Truly contemporary" is how one reviewer described the Vancouver-based troupe. On the bill this week is Molnar's most recent work "To this day," along with the U.S. premiere of "Bedroom Folk." The latter work originated with the Nederlands Dans Theater and was created by Israeli collaborators Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, among others.
This program runs Wednesday, June 19, through Sunday, June 23, at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturday and Sunday in addition to evenings.
The design efforts to restore the Springside Pond is entering the permitting phase.
Parks and Open Spaces Manager Jim McGrath updated the Parks Commission on Tuesday about the progress and said the city will be seeking permits from the Conservation Commission in the coming weeks. However, the... click for more
Two newly hired firefighters resigned after it was found they had falsely claimed residency to get a boost in the Civil Service exam.
The Civil Service Commission called for an investigation into the matter after a bypass appeal was filed late last fall. Justin Brady had taken the exam but did... click for more
The state hopes to see more renewable energy from solar and thus incentives solar development. However, the way the programs are currently established, the solar often comes at the expense of cutting trees.
"We have perverse incentives for solar. It is cheaper for a developer to come in and cut... click for more
Thanks to a $900,000 state grant, Herberg Middle School is poised to vastly improve the academics in the building.
Herberg has had low scores on state assessments leading it into "turnaround status" and Principal Martin McEvoy and Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning Lisa Lesser crafted... click for more
Christian Womble tossed a complete-game with 10 strikeouts and scored the first run, and Anton Lazits had a solo home run to lead Taconic to a 5-1 win over Wahconah in the Western Mass Division 3 championship at UMass on Saturday. click for more
When Brittany Sullivan lost her sister, her life spiraled out of control.
"When I was 14 years old, my sister died suddenly in a car accident. This sent me into a downward spiral that led me to drinking, smoking, and dipping into opioids, which eventually got me kicked out of my home at 17.... click for more