BRTA considering Southern Berkshire schedule changes
GREAT BARRINGTON -- Representatives of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority told the Selectmen on Monday that the BRTA is soliciting information for an aggressive restructuring of its South County transportation schedule.
"Imagine," said Vin Romghi, a BRTA consultant, "that the slate is clean, schedule-wise. We would be open to anything."
"The perception is that these schedules are set in stone," said BRTA Administrator Gary Shepard in an interview on Tuesday. "In reality, nothing is set in stone."
Shepard said he has obtained some federal funding to run new trial routes in the fall.
"Right now," he said, "We're looking to communities for input.
"But we have nothing on Saturdays," he said. "We have nothing on Sundays. Or in the evening. We can get a guy to his second shift job, but we can't get him home. We can pick a guy up from his third-shift job, but we can't get him there."
The Selectmen expressed support for the plan Monday. At the behest of Romghi, the board agreed to schedule a meeting with employers and their employees at a later date.
"We want to help, but we need to know what kind of information you need," said Selectmen Chairwoman Deborah Phillps.
The BRTA has already added an express bus to and from Great Barrington and Pittsfield, said Romghi. That bus leaves the Great Barrington Fairgrounds bus stop at 6:55 a.m. and arrives at the Intermodal Center in Pittsfield by 7:35.
"Right now, the express bus is underutilized," he said. "But I think it's in part because no one knows about it."
"The one reason people don't use the bus is because it takes too long to get anywhere," said Romghi. "That's the overwhelming cry we hear."
There are plans to add a Great Barrington-to-Pittsfield express bus in the early evening and at midday, Romghi said.
But the BRTA's plans are not limited to South Berkshire County, and not confined to express routes. The plan, said Shepard, is to reroute the buses to routes more compatible with county residents' needs.
"General Electric is gone," said Shepard on Tuesday. "But Canyon Ranch is here. And people need to get there. You have to change with the times. We don't look at the people who ride our buses as passengers. That's too passive a term. We look at them as customers. If they need to get somewhere, we say, ‘call us and let us try to figure that out.' "
To contact the BRTA with suggestions, go to www.berkshirerta.com
In other business, two residents, Michelle Loubert and MaryElla Bownes Satinover, took the board to task for allowing dogs to run loose in the St. Peter's and Elmwood Cemetries. Both reported that unleashed dogs represented a hazard to young children.
In separate declarations, both women said some of the animals defecate on the graves.
"I shouldn't have to scoop [feces] when I bring my mother to visit my father's grave," said Loubert. "It's very disappointing."
She added that unleashed dogs in town "were against the law."
Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin told the board at the beginning of the meeting that signage has been posted reminding dog owners to leash and curb their pets. Bags have also been placed for dog owners to use to collect their pets' waste.
"I think the town should ban dogs from the cemetery," said Satinover.
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