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PVTA to offer free rides for a month to promote ridership

PVTA  bus makes a stop in downtown Northampton, Mass.
Nirvani Williams
PVTA bus makes a stop in downtown Northampton, Mass.

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority will offer free bus and paratransit rides for a month during the upcoming holiday season as a way to encourage residents to make use of public transportation.

All fixed route and paratransit or disability access services will be offered at no cost to customers in PVTA's service area from Nov. 25 through Dec. 31.

Brandy Pelletier, a spokesperson for PVTA, said they're hoping riders will invest in the local economy.

"With the addition of gaining new choice ridership, that there's also going to be increased spending at local shops and restaurants, with more people traveling out and about and trying to transit on us," she said.

The initiative, called "Try Transit" is funded through a state grant that was awarded to all fifteen Massachusetts Regional Transit Authorities, including Franklin and Berkshire counties. PVTA was awarded a little more than $700,000 for this short-term prepaid service. The initiative does not include the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

College student Camille Cheng recently used the bus to visit downtown Northampton. She said she doesn't have a car and takes PVTA services frequently.

"I'm able to see a lot of things...I'm able to go a lot of places because I'm able to take the PVTA," she said. "I think it's a good system and maybe it'll give people more chance to try it out and people will be more motivated to take public transit."

Bus fair for people 13 years of age and older is typically $1.25 per ride with discounts for senior citizens and additional fees for bus transfers.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.