PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority is planning to increase Charlie Card fares and reduce routes because of proposed budget cuts at the state level that has created a nearly $400,000 deficit.
The BRTA, the main public transportation unit serving the Berkshires, is facing an operational budget deficit of $378,400 for the upcoming fiscal year. Transit officials statewide say $88 million is needed to properly fund RTAs after four years of nearly level funding.
The proposed options for the Fixed Route bus service would be to: discontinue the 4:30 p.m. trip on Bus Route 21 Express; eliminate Bus Route 3S, adding demand stops on Bus Route 3 to accommodate customers; combine Bus Routes 5 and 13; reduce to one bus on weekdays for Bus Route 21; reduce to one bus on both Bus Routes 1 and 2 for Saturdays; combine Bus Routes 5, 13, 15, and 16 on Saturdays and discontinue one midday trip; or eliminate all Saturday bus service.
The proposed options for the paratransit service include: align non-ADA service days and hours with Americans with Disabilities Act service days and hours and eliminate all Saturday paratransit service.
The proposal includes fixed-route, cash-fare payments remaining the same, while fares would increase when using a Charlie Card: $1.55 for a local trip, $4 for a systemwide fare, 75 cents for a local reduced fare, and $2 for a systemwide reduced fare.
There would be a potential reduction in purchasing seven- or 30-day passes.
It will be holding public hearings on the changes at the following locations and dates:
North Adams, Terra Nova Church's The Green, 87 Main St., North Adams
Monday, April 9, 11 am. to 1 p.m. and Monday, April 23, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Pittsfield, BRTA offices, second floor, Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center, One Columbus Ave.
Wednesday, April 11, 11 am. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday, April 25, from 3 to 5
Great Barrington, Fire Station, 27 State Road
Thursday, April 12, 11 am. to 1 p.m. and Tuesday, April 24, from 3 to 5
BRTA was advised by the state Department of Transportation to expect level funding of the statewide regional transit authorities' allocation at the fiscal 2015 level of approximately $80.4 million. That is down from $82 million in both fiscal 2016 and 2017. BRTA is slated to receive $2,505,095 instead of the $2,741,895 if the budget for the 15 regional transit authorities was at the $88 million level.
BRTA's Advisory Board authorized public meetings to receive comments on the proposed service and fare changes at the meeting held on March 29. Detailed information on the proposed service and fare changes can be found at www.berkshirerta.com and will be discussed at the public meetings. All public comments will be given to Advisory Board for a final decision to be made in May.
Public comments may be submitted until April 30, 2018, by attending a hearing or sending written comments to BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave. Suite 201, Pittsfield, MA 01201, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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