Keenan Provencher: Is BRTA best serving those who need it?

PITTSFIELD — The state budget for the fiscal year just passed, and the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority got an increase in funding. So how does raising bus fares for people and eliminating discounts for people with CharlieCards help?

Short answer, it doesn't.

Raising fares does no good for anyone. Chances are, if you're taking the bus in this car-loving part of the state, you can't or don't want to drive; you don't have a car, or you're a tourist who arrived here by bus, plane or train.

How will tourists get around if they don't have a car? What if they can't get an Uber? They will have to rely on our public transportation system. I know the budget is tight. I know we aren't a priority out here. Even knowing that I can't see how raising bus fares will help in the long run. All that will do is drive potential public transportation users away, (pun intended).

Sure, the fare is not that much, but it all adds up in the end. I'm not saying it should be free, but it's not a smart idea to raise bus fares.

However, there is a silver lining to this. According to an article in The Berkshire Eagle, administrator Robert Malnati "expects the Berkshires will see about $62,000" of the budget that is allotted to public transportation systems across the state. This will hopefully allow the BRTA to start a nightly run. This would benefit people who can't drive but want to do something in the evening, be it work or play.

I can't drive, and I deal with the financial issues that plague most college students. So when I'm not relying on family members or friends to get around, what's left?: the public transportation system.

I would personally love not to have to rely on other people for rides to get from point A to point B. It's not very dignified when a family member has to drop you off so you can go for a job interview or somewhere to meet friends. I for one would utilize this service if it were available.

Again, I want to be clear in that I do not blame the BRTA for the tight budget. It's not their fault that we get overlooked by the government in favor of the eastern part of the state. I'm sure the BRTA and its workers are doing their best. It's just frustrating that this is such an issue out here.

Even so, it is still vital to advertise what's being done and to get the feedback from the general public. That can be done through surveys, going on the radio or TV stations, etc. It does no one any good if a company doesn't get the feedback and approval of the people it serves. It is essential for the public to be kept in the loop and to be assured that the BRTA is doing its absolute best with the funds that it has been given.

Keenan Provencher is a student at Westfield State University and will soon be completing a summer internship at The Eagle.


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