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PVTA Agrees to Five Colleges Bus Route Recommendations

The PVTA received hundreds of comments from students, families, employees, and community members, attesting to the value of the college bus routes

Five Colleges leaders and representatives have successfully petitioned the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) to reverse course on some of the proposed bus service reductions it had announced in May and to retain routes serving the colleges and the local community. In May, PVTA had proposed bus service cuts resulting from reduced transit funding by the Massachusetts state legislature and a subsequent expected budget deficit.

After hundreds of members of the Five Colleges community responded to its invitation for comments, PVTA this week agreed to the following revised service changes:

  • Keep the Rte 39 service substantially unchanged serving Mount Holyoke, Hampshire and Smith Colleges and explore some minor modifications to it
  • Add some express routes on the B43 (Smith to/from UMass and Amherst) to allow for the cancellation of the duplicative M40E that serves those colleges.

Leaders from the Five College Consortium attended PVTA’s public meetings this week and are also planning to meet with PVTA administrators next week to discuss details of the modified service, with the goal of minimizing negative impacts to the colleges.  

In making its decision, the PVTA Advisory Board noted it had received hundreds of comments from students, families, employees, and community members, attesting to the value of the college bus runs.

This week, the PVTA Advisory Board did announce it’s moving forward with some route reductions and eliminations that may affect students, employees and community members. For a complete list of the changes, which will take effect at the end of August 2017, look for updates at www.pvta.com and www.pvta.com/schedules.php.

In responding to PVTA’s invitation for public comment, the Five Colleges Board, of which Hampshire's Jonathan Lash serves as president, submitted a letter to PVTA on July 7 that, in summary:

  • Stressed that the PVTA bus routes are critical to students, employees and visitors and are subsidized each year by $500,000 from the colleges
  • Detailed the negative impact of the proposed cuts, and asked that the PVTA reconsider the proposal and partner with the Five Colleges on planning necessary modifications to the service that may be required to balance its budget.

The Five College Consortium including Amherst, Hampshire, Mt Holyoke, and Smith Colleges, UMass Amherst, and Five Colleges, Inc, have partnered with PVTA and area towns since 1979, and have subsidized these and other public transit routes connecting the campuses and providing more than one million rides each year. 

“We welcome the decision by the PVTA Advisory Board,” said Five Colleges Executive Director Neal Abraham. “We see these conversations as an important resumption of frequent consultations among PVTA, town representatives, and the Five College Consortium.” 

Other points made by college leaders in public hearings and communications to PVTA this summer included:

  • The PVTA college bus routes help reduce pollution and traffic congestion
  • The strong intercampus regional bus service helps attracts some of the most talented students and employees to the Valley from around the world, establishing our towns among the “Best College Towns” in the US.

See also the Five Colleges announcement July 19, 2017.
 

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