On Monday, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors took a major step in ensuring that millions of riders in the Pioneer Valley have a transit system that can meet their needs.
In its announcement of adding $500 million to the state’s five-year capital investment plan, MassDOT righted its previous omission and included $55.7 million for a new maintenance facility for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA).
It seems that MassDOT recognized that it could not ignore the growing demand for reliable public transit in the region. The PVTA is the second largest public transit service in Massachusetts, with more than 12 million riders across 24 cities and towns using its service every year. This service is critically important for most riders: for nearly 70 percent, PVTA is their only source of transportation and nearly half live below the poverty line.
The new maintenance facility is key to meeting this need. For years, the PVTA has housed and serviced its bus fleet in an ill-equipped 100-year-old trolley barn. The building once planned to store only 50 buses is now crowded with 110 buses and 220 employees working in a functionally obsolete facility. The annual ridership increases seen since 2007 have only strained the overburdened facilities further.
For PVTA, this renewed funding will help it complete a project that it has already poured significant time and resources into getting off the ground. MassDOT had originally promised the PVTA $71 million for the facility’s construction, but it failed to deliver and follow through on those funds when the draft capital budget was released in April. While the $55.7 million in the revised capital investment plan falls far short of that original $71 million, the funding is a significant step towards completing the long-awaited project.
CLF applauds MassDOT for correcting its oversight and recognizing that the project is vital to the PVTA and its riders.