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BRTA Strike Ends; Regular Bus Service Resumes Wednesday

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — BRTA buses should be back on schedule Wednesday, Dec. 19, bringing an end to the strike that has paralyzed much of the county's public transportation system for the past two weeks. 
 
The latest offer presented to the federal mediator on Tuesday was voted on by the paratransit union membership at a meeting and was approved.  
 
The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority sent out an alert early Tuesday afternoon reporting it had received notification that the union representing the paratransit drivers had accepted the latest offer. Regular paratransit services will resume Thursday, Dec. 20.
 
Fixed route service had been severely curtailed since the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 404 rejected a contract offer from Paratransit Management of the Berkshires on Dec. 3. In addition to the nearly 20 Local 404 paratransit drivers striking, the fixed-route drivers mounted a work stoppage so as not to cross the picket line. 
 
The paratransit drivers have been at odds with BRTA for nearly year and there were indications that a strike might occur earlier this fall. The fixed-route drivers currently have a three-year contract. 
 
The work stoppage has played havoc with people's schedules over the past weeks, making it harder to get to work, school and appointments. Transit officials tried keep some semblance of limited access on routes going up and down the county and chair-companies were hired to provide restricted paratransit service.
 
The latest offer presented to the federal mediator on Tuesday was voted on by the paratransit union membership at a meeting and was approved.  
 
The BRTA has an annual ridership of more than 600,000, with close to 80,000 of those through the paratransit service that supplements the fixed bus service for those with impaired mobility.
 

 


Tags: BRTA,   paratransit,   public transportation,   strike,   union contract,   

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The Berkshire Museum Will Reopen Saturday, Aug. 1

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After being closed for more than four months, the Berkshire Museum will once again welcome visitors through its doors in downtown Pittsfield. 

The museum, which will open in phases, plans to open exclusively to its members for two weeks during its first phase beginning Saturday, Aug. 1, before inviting the whole community in phase 2 starting Monday, Aug. 17. The reopening of the Berkshire Museum comes as part of Phase 3 of the state's four-phase Reopening Massachusetts plan, which began Monday, July 6, as announced on July 2.

The museum intends to meet or exceed all state-mandated health and safety guidelines through each reopening phase. Beginning Aug. 1, guests will be welcomed back to the museum with a series of new health and safety protocols in place, including new and improved cleaning procedures, time-based advance ticketing that reserves each exhibition for one "family unit" - a group that has been quarantining together - at a time, mandatory face coverings, social distancing between visitors and staff, and more.

"Throughout the pandemic, the Berkshire Museum has prioritized the health and safety of our guests and staff," said Jeff Rodgers, executive director. "This remains our primary concern, especially as we watch states across the nation suffer rising rates of infection. To ensure that we are acting responsibly, we're taking a phased approach to reopening that will allow us to adjust to changing conditions."

From Aug. 115, the Aquarium will open for Berkshire Museum members with timed reservations. Members can enjoy private, 45-minute, self-led explorations of the Aquarium on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The museum will close from 1 to 2 p.m. daily for cleaning.

The same operating hours will continue during phase 2 from Aug. 17-31, with timed reservations available to the public. In this phase visits will expand to include both the Aquarium and a last chance to see the Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons for all visitors.

Timed tickets must be reserved in advance at berkshiremuseum.org or by calling 413-443-7171, ext. 360. Berkshire Museum members, children under 18, and EBT cardholders always visit free. During phase 2, adult regular admission will be $5. Reservations can be made starting July 23 for dates between Aug. 1 and 31.

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