UPDATE: Because of the Senate Caucus and Formal Legislative Session to take place starting at noon Friday, Senator Hinds cannot participate in today's events as announced.The Senate is expected to vote on the FY18 conference budget this afternoon.
His staff will ride the BRTA from Pittsfield to North Adams and attend the Workshop. The design thinking exercises will be led by the MCLA Design Lab team. Senator Hinds plans to call into the event at 1 p.m. from the State House.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Sen. Adam Hinds is about to find out exactly how difficult it is to get around the county on public transportation.
On Friday, Hinds is taking a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus from Pittsfield to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, a trip that will take more than an hour. Hinds is doing it as his commute to meet with MCLA's Dean Jake Eberwein as the two host a design thinking workshop on how to improve the county's public transportation system.
"We live in a large, geographically diverse region with concentrated downtowns and rural areas. We have services and economies separated by large swaths of space and an infrastructure system that is often outdated and without reliable cell phone coverage," the Pittsfield state senator said.
"Improving our public transportation system is central to addressing numerous challenges that I hear about often: reliable access to employment and services, the ability to move to a better job, thereby improving quality of life, connecting to other transportation options, and beyond. This is the start of an ongoing effort to improve rural transportation options throughout my district."
At MCLA, Hinds will spend four hours with the MCLA Design Lab, a curricular and co-curricular space, to "reimagine" what rural public transportation can be.
The workshop will include representatives from the Berkshire Community Action Council, Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, the BRTA, Lever, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Berkshire Community College, MCLA, Workers Cities Pittsfield, the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Williams College. Others involved include students, employers, and other stakeholders.
The challenges of transportation in the Berkshires isn't new. For years officials in various aspects of public life have wanted to improve it but the rural nature of the Berkshires poses a challenge. The BRTA hasn't had sufficient funding to run fixed-rate bus routes throughout the county and the populations make it difficult to maintain rider population on routes in rural areas.
Now the BRTA has limited hours at night and weekends. That's particularly a problem with the tourism economy because those are the times when employers need the most amount of staff possible.
Recently, Andrea Sholler, managing director of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, asked to be involved with public transit planning because it means so much to her company. Becket is not easily accessible and those without personal vehicles are unable to work there. Yet, she has 75 jobs, mostly minimum wage, low-skilled jobs, available during the summer. Many of those go unfilled.
Similar stories have been told by numerous employers, specifically those in the hospitality industry and those who are removed from the urban areas of the Berkshires, over and over again throughout the years.
Meanwhile, Berkshire Community College officials have lamented the lack of transportation to get to their campus on the outskirts of Pittsfield because many students either don't attend or drop out because of a lack of ability to work.
Those in the public health realm say the lack of reliable public transit is a barrier to accessing health care.
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MCLA Police Investigating A Series Of Larcenies From Vehicles
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The MCLA Campus Police and the North Adams Police Departments are investigating a series of larcenies from vehicles.
The MCLA Campus Police Department released a Crime and Safety Alert on their Facebook page Thursday indicating that earlier this week a number of unlocked vehicles parked on campus had items stolen from them.
The release stated that the incidents were reported to have taken place early morning Wednesday and Thursday.
Vehicles were parked on Davenport, Bond and Corinth Streets. Items were also taken from an additional four vehicles parked in the Townhouse Lots.
The city of North Adams and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission are administering microenterprise loans to assist low- and moderate-income business owners cover regular costs such as rent, staffing and utilities.
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The Massachusetts School Building Authority invited the city into the eligibility stage last December and there were plans for the building committee to begin its work by spring. But this was cut short by the arrival of the novel coronavirus and the process was put on hold.
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The Licensing Board, in the end, asked the parties to try to resolve the issue by being considerate to their neighbors, work with the landlord and come back in December to see how things went.
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Instead of the traditional breakfast at the Williams Inn, the nonprofit agency switched to remote but with still the same confidence that it will raise $490,000 to support its many member agencies.
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