Saturday October 6, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The Berk shire Regional Transit Authority is one of 10 similar agencies across Massachusetts to receive a share of $13.2 million in state funding for new buses and facility repairs.

The BRTA received $420,000 from the state Department of Transportation to buy four, 14-passenger vans with fare boxes, and an additional $250,000 to repair a roof at its maintenance facility in the Downing In dustrial Park.

The funding was made available as part of an initiative introduced by the Obama Ad ministration that allows states to repurpose unused federal transportation earmarks between 2003 and 2006 for use on highway and transit projects that are able to obligate funds by the end of 2012.

The 11 state projects were selected based on the likelihood that the individual RTAs would be able to obligate the needed funds by the end of December, and spend that funding in the near-term.

"We had a long list that we submitted to the commonwealth, and they selected this part of it," said BRTA Ad ministrator Gary Shepard.

He said the BRTA will receive the funding by adding it to an existing contract that it has with a firm in Minnesota.

"We should get the funds by the end of December," he said.

Shepard said the 14-passenger vans will enable the BRTA to continue adding smaller vehicles to its fleet. Two of the new vehicles will be probably be stationed in the Central Berkshire region, with one each slated for North and South counties. Adding the four new vehicles was included in the BRTA’s five-year capital plan, he said.

"It gives us greater maneuverability and flexibility so that we can go off on smaller streets to pick up folks," Shepard said. "We can use the bigger buses for the express routes."

The repurposed earmark funds are 100 percent federally funded, require no state match, and must be used for capital needs. MassDOT selected the 11 projects from a list of 28 project requests totaling $14.5 million from the state’s 15 RTAs.

"Regional Transit Authorities provide a critical service to residents of every region of the commonwealth who depend on transit to get to work and to school," said MassDOT CEO and Secretary Richard A. Davey in a statement. "MassDOT is pleased to partner with the RTAs in moving these projects forward."

Funds were also awarded to state RTAs in Brockton, Cape Ann, Greater Attleboro-Taunton, Lowell, Martha’s Vineyard, Mont achusett, Nantucket, the Pioneer Valley, and Southeastern Massachusetts.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224
On Twitter: @tonydobrow