Letter: Improve pay for BRTA paratransit drivers
To the editor:
I support the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority paratransit work stoppage. I know firsthand what these drivers do in a day as I am a regular user of paratransit services. I see drivers have to adhere to an almost impossible schedule. I see drivers having to assist persons with severe disabilities. For the most part they do it with empathy and kindness, going out of their way to help.
These drivers don't make a living wage and have as much responsibility in a day as drivers who drive fixed-route busses. No, they do not have a commercial driver's license but do much of the same work. They make a bit more than half of the wage that the fixed-route drivers make. A person at Walmart or McDonald's makes a higher hourly wage than a BRTA paratransit driver. Where is the equity in that?
I encourage the administration of the BRTA to come to a fair and equitable resolution to this work stoppage as it is inconveniencing people who often have no other mode of transportation. Contracting with other companies for "essential" services as well as reducing fixed route services while the strike is going on hurts people who rely on the services for their daily lives, employment and medical needs.
Give these hard-working drivers the respect they deserve by paying them a wage that will keep good, caring drivers working for a service important to the Berkshire community.
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