Local officials push for more transportation accessibility
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is traveling throughout the state to hear and address transportation needs of different cities and towns. YNN's Berkshire County reporter, Madeleine Rivera, tells us some of the changes local officials are hoping to see.
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- "I don't drive so I take the bus where I need to go," said Rosemarie Thomas, a North Adams resident.
She is one of many Berkshire County residents who use the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority.
"Never did. Never drive. I took lessons once but nothing came of it," she said.
Local mayors and county transportation officials had people like her in mind when they went to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation meeting in North Adams. They are pushing for more transportation accessibility for those who do not drive.
"60 percent of our folks in North Adams are considered low to moderate income, and roughly 19 percent are considered at poverty level, so many of them do not have transportation options other than public transportation," explained Mayor Richard Alcombright of North Adams.
But, it's more than just not having a car. Mayor Alcombright hopes that more frequent transportation would boost and sustain economic activity in the county as more residents would be able to go to work or shop.
"There are a lot of folks who are down on their luck right now who are going to BCC, who are going to Mildred Elli, working at a Walmart, but they need the transportation to get back and forth. For many of them it's an opportunity to shop, and those sort of things," said Alcombright.
"It creates more business. It brings more traffic, more people, so I hope we see the same thing processing things in Pittsfield or other towns," said Fahri Karakaya, owner of The Local, a restaurant in North Adams.
65 percent of the riders of the BRTA do not use a car, so many of them are reliant on this bus service. But, sometimes buses end as early as 7:00 p.m. and don't even run on Sundays, which puts a lot of customers at a disadvantage.
One example is Michelle Richards, a pregnant student who takes GED classes at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
"It's from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at night and if I could take the bus I would, but it ends at 7:00 p.m. so...," said Richards.
MassDOT is traveling around the state, holding public meetings to hear and address transportation needs in different places.