New Big Y bus stop a leg up for North Adams residents isolated by Price Chopper closing

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NORTH ADAMS — When the Price Chopper closed its doors in February, residents of the Brayton Hill and Greylock Valley apartment complexes were left no supermarket in walking distance.

Those without cars were forced to take the bus to Stop & Shop or the Big Y Supermarket, to which the nearest bus stop was a block away.

But with the help of local community organizations, Berkshire Regional Transit Authority this summer added a stop directly in front of the Big Y Supermarket on Veteran's Memorial Drive.

"It was really important for them to be able to have that convenience, to be able to not have to struggle across that parking lot," said Wendy Krom, the lead organizer of Berkshire Interfaith Organizing.

Through the BRTA's Route 3, residents can hop on the bus and be dropped off in front of the store. Previously, the closest BRTA bus stop to the Big Y had been on Main Street, which meant crossing Route 2 while carrying groceries — no small feat.

Stop & Shop already had a bus stop out front, but it's a longer ride, and the addition of the stop at Big Y gives residents another option right in the downtown.

Michael Amaral, a resident of Brayton Hill, said most people there don't have the luxury of being able to drive themselves to the supermarket.

"I've been up here for over 10 years, and Price Chopper was an easy walk for everybody," he said. "It was a 20 minute walk, it was the closest supermarket around."

Once it became clear that Price Chopper was gone for good, Berkshire Interfaith Organizing and the Brayton Hill Action Committee joined forces to work on transportation alternatives.

Initially, the BRTA announced it would be willing to stop in front of the Big Y upon request, but getting picked up from the storefront wasn't so reliable — a concern for someone with an armful of groceries.

"We called again and the BRTA was extremely good; they immediately made a permanent bus stop at Big Y coming up Route 2, so folks know they can hop on the bus, go to Big Y for an hour, and hop back on the bus," said Mayor Richard Alcombright, who helped facilitate the discussion between community leaders and the BRTA.

With the support of Big Y, the front of its store became an official stop in recent weeks and is regularly utilized, but Amaral said "we still have to spread the word that it's an added service."

"By slightly altering an existing service route to directly enter into the Big Y parking lot, residents of North Adams could access another shopping venue with no increase in cost to the city," said Sarah Vallieries, BRTA Associate Administrator in a statement.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.

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