PVTA Facing Serious Cuts
Regional Transit Authorities are facing level funding from the state that dates back to FY15, leaving an $8 million shortfall across the RTAs in the FY19 budget. Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) is the largest of the RTAs with 29% of the total budget. PVTA is estimating a $3.1 million deficit in their FY2019 budget that begins on July 1, 2018. This deficit will result in a reduction in services and a 25% fare increase.
How will PVTA Cuts Impact Health?
As part of a graduate course in Health Impact Assessment (HIA) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, students conducted an HIA to assess how proposed service changes and fare hikes might impact the health of PVTA riders. An HIA systematically judges the potential effects of a policy, plan, program, or project on the health of a population and the distribution of those effects. The students’ HIA examined the impacts on social isolation, access to jobs, and access to medical care. According to the HIA, PVTA fare hikes and service cuts will
- disproportionately impact low income individuals and people of color
- increase social isolation
- decrease access to jobs,
decrease access to medical care
Read the full summary on PVTA Fare Hikes and Service Cuts Affect Health and Equity.
Transportation is essential for creating communities of opportunity for everyone!
Many people in our region depend on public transportation for their basic needs, such as grocery shopping, medical visits, and getting to work. It is also an essential strategy in reducing Green House Gas Emissions and resilience to extreme weather events. Low-income communities and communities are disproportionately affected when cuts like those underway to our MA Regional Transit Authorities occur. This is especially serious given that transportation has been identified as a regional community health need particularly for low income and rural people. Public transportation is good for communities and good for health!
LiveWell Springfield Survey on Cuts in Service
The Live Well Springfield Coalition and the Age-Friendly City Project, both initiatives of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, have made public transportation a policy priority. Along with Resident Advisors, we have created a survey and collected Springfield resident voices that express the need for public transportation as a necessary service. The survey is being used as an advocacy tool to make sure that more of the voices of Springfield are heard as decisions about public transportation are being made on a local and state level. Here is some of the raw data about what people are saying and a snapshot of the answers to the question, “Why Public Transportation is important to me”.
To PVTA and legislators - We respect all of the hard work you do and know that that the upcoming decisions about the state budget, and around fares and services are not ones that you are making by choice. Please consider these voices as you make your decisions and use these surveys to educate others about the real impact this essential service will have on people, especially the most vulnerable. Public transportation is an issue of employment, health equity, family, education, age-friendly, racial justice, economic development, disability rights, environmental health, and basic dignity.
- Here's a snapshot of what people are responding to the question "Why Public Transportation is important to me?"
Speak to Your Legislators
Update on the PVTA/Regional Transit Cuts
The Senate Budget released on May 10 did include $88 Million for the RTA. The House Budget only included $82 Million. The $88 Million amount is needed to prevent drastic cuts in RTA service, which would exacerbate existing inequities. Although the Senate budget provides good news for now, more advocacy will be needed during the budget conferencing process to support this funding. Keep posted for advocacy alerts.
This $88 Million request will fund the RTAs at the level that was committed to by the legislature in Transportation Finance bill. The funding will allow the RTAs to continue to provide critical public transportation and meet our constituents’ needs. Without an increase, RTAs across the Commonwealth will be forced to cut routes, lay off staff, and severely curtail service.
Please email Kathy Wicks if you have any questions.
For the fourth year in a row, MassDOT is proposing that state contract assistance for PVTA and the other 14 Massachusetts RTAs for bus and van service be held level at $80.4 million. The shortfall between the RTAs’ operating funding need and the proposed level-funded amount is now $8 million – (level funding is essentially a cut in funding) and so they (all the RTA’s) are now collectively requesting that the FY2019 RTA appropriation be $88 million.
The Pioneer Valley needs our state legislators to work together and address the immediate need to fund Massachusetts RTAs at $88 million for FY2019. This will avoid the draconian cuts that PVTA, Worcester’s WRTA, and other RTAs around the state will be forced make in July. It will also allow the legislature and MassDOT to begin in the coming year to craft a more sustainable and equitable strategy for funding regional public transportation.
For PVTA and the major population centers of Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, and Amherst that it serves, this means that there will be a $3.1 million shortfall in state funds starting July 1. As a result, PVTA’s 24-community Advisory Board will be forced on April 11 to act on proposals that would:
$3.1 Million Cut Leads to Service Cuts and Increased Fares
- Cut bus service10-12% on July 1, affecting or eliminating 1.1 million bus trips a year.
- Curtail the hours and service areas for vans that carry disabled and elderly riders for who medical appointments are the most-frequent trip purpose.
- Raise fares 25% on all users, including people on fixed incomes who have less ability to pay.
- Compound the loss of service that PVTA already had to cut last fall because of level funding, resulting in one-fifth of all PVTA service being eliminated within one calendar year.
Impact of the Cuts
The local economic and social impacts of these proposals, if they have to be implemented, would be immediately counterproductive and inequitable:
- Bus service will be cut in Springfield and adjoining towns just as the MGM casino and resort complex are opening in the fall of 2018. The urban location and design of the MGM development depend on significant numbers of customers and workers arriving by bus and van.
- PVTA’s new regional bus storage and maintenance facility on Cottage Street in Springfield, due to open in early 2019, will not be fully utilized, and the number of jobs for bus drivers and maintenance staff there will go down.
- Academic institutions from UMass to the Five Colleges, Holyoke Community College, four Springfield colleges, and Westfield University will all lose transit service, which is essential in their efforts to retaining students and managing parking and local auto congestion.
- People of color and those in poverty would bear a disproportionate share of the burden of the service losses and fare increases, as PVTA would be forced to cut its more frequent high-capacity bus routes in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, and Amherst.
- Approximately 2,000 ADA riders and another 1,500 seniors who use PVTA’s vans would lose hours and service areas—which are already limited on evenings and weekends.
RTAs are not at all like Boston’s MBTA: their riders are overwhelmingly transit dependent with no other way to make their trips. And in urban areas, large majorities of RTA riders are people of color and earning less than $20,000 a year.
Further, PVTA is unique among Massachusetts’ RTAs. With 580,000 service area residents and 185 buses on the road, it is the only federally designated “Tier I” transit operator outside of the MBTA. It receives 29% of the statewide RTA assistance, but carries more than 33% of all RTA passenger trips. PVTA is already the most efficient RTA on a cost per rider basis.
The Transportation Reform Act assured Massachusetts RTAs annual increases in SCA to keep up with inflation and to add service to help meet MassDOT’s goals to shift more people out of cars and onto public transportation. As the Act required, PVTA and the other RTAs in 2013 did comprehensive system wide plans. PVTA then added new service, and ridership rose by nearly 2.5 million passenger trips a year. If the impending service cuts are implemented, all of PVTA’s new ridership—and more—will be erased.