Possible route changes, rate hikes coming to PVTA

(Western Mass News photo)

UMass Amherst students are speaking out about proposed budget cuts to the PVTA - a service many rely on to get to class and work.

Monday morning, some students rallied outside a meeting held by state leaders, to voice their concerns over possible fare hikes and cuts in routes.

Video obtained by Western Mass News showed UMass students and riders holding signs like 'Fund Public Transit'.

They were demanding something be done about proposed budget cuts to the transit authority, all while state legislators were meeting inside to discuss Governor Baker's $40 million proposed budget.

"I ride the PVTA every week to get to class or go to different areas in the valley," said Robert Kearns.

Patrick Burke added, "I use the service to get to Springfield and to get to Northampton."

According to UMass, over 18,000 people ride the PVTA every day throughout UMass Amherst and surrounding communities.

However, that could change come this summer.

The PVTA is facing a deficit of about $3.1 million and because of that, the transit authority is proposing to raise some fares and eliminate some routes in the UMass area.

"It has a lot of transit dependent people who use the services and we need to be fully funding it through the state legislature and I think Charlie Baker needs to do a lot more," Kearns said.

The PVTA is proposing a 25 percent increase in fares. A regular adult fare would go up from $1.25 to $1.60 starting July 1, if the plan is approved.

The PVTA is also trying to cut service around UMass Amherst on weekdays when classes are not in session and eliminate service on non-academic Sundays.

"Number one, I'd have to pay more everyday because of the fare hikes and it would be harder to get around, especially when I need to make a transfer because when you cut service in the morning or evening, it makes it harder to go all over the valley," Burke explained.

The PVTA is holding a series of public hearings around western Massachusetts.

It is PVTA's hope that the final state budget is higher than the governor's.

If so, PVTA will place service back based on the priorities expressed by the public during the public outreach process.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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