In an economy that is reliant on tourism and culture, we need to find ways to improve transportation while keeping the rural nature of our area. It not only is important that we improve transportation for visitors but for our low income populations to access services, medical appointments, and employment. Transportation is an important piece to attracting young people to move to the area and stay in the area.
We should continue to expand and improve upon the infrastructure in place while promoting innovative options to enhance service locally and affordably. That means better technology to sync traffic and schedule public transportation. The Government needs to lead by example on use of electric vehicles and investing in recharging stations. We need to work to complete the bike paths throughout the Northern Berkshires. For our economy to move forward, we must have affordable and reliable transportation for people to use. While Boston has invested a lot of time and money in the Boston transit system, our public system is struggling. We need innovative thinking to expand public transportation, that means looking at intermodal transportation throughout the county and beyond. I will work to find ways to connect the rail system to our planning so that we can open this area for better transit for goods as well as people.
Not all of our transportation solutions have to be extensive, I believe that creating more Express Bus Routes will increase ridership and get people to work and appointments faster without the rider having to dedicate a day to travel. The average ride to Pittsfield takes almost two hours from Northern Berkshire County, this is not realistic for someone who has to get to work on time.
The Bike Path was near and dear to Representative Cariddi’s heart and I would like to see this project through. The Bike Path Completion is not only a great form of exercise and a fun excursion but it can also be used to commute to work, appointments, cultural institutions and downtown commerce.
I believe that we can use GPS and IT to make bus routes more efficient. As well as allowing the rider to know exactly when their bus is arriving at each stop. With a system in place riders could “check in” to a stop that would alert a driver that someone is waiting. This could mean that buses could create express routes during off driving hours and expand their routes to address need.
I will advocate for more Chapter 90 funding as well as flexible regulations for STRAP grants for small towns.
Work as a member of the rural transportation caucus to enhance funding for our regional transportation authority (BRTA). We need to maximize the federal funding that comes to Massachusetts. In the past, the caucus has been able to find a way to use turnpike tolls as a match for federal funding to increase federal dollars coming to Massachusetts. This is the kind of innovative thinking we need to increase dollars going to the BRTA.
Look at smaller buses that utilize more routes Rural small towns and even parts of our larger communities don’t have any bus service. Can we use technology to find new pathways for ridership that use smaller busses to reflect the smaller ridership, but give people the same opportunity for public transportation?
Petition the state to look at easier bus route licensing. Right now, a bus company must get permission from every city and town they travel through. This is cumbersome and needs to change to allow smaller independent carriers a chance to compete. For example, there used to be a bus company that traveled route 2 from Williamstown to Boston. When that company closed, Peter Pan petitioned each town for permission but changed routes to benefit Peter Pan, not to benefit the riders.
Work with Federal officials to find ways to increase our access to train travel. There is a route being looked at through Vermont to New York. A 2015 study done by State of Vermont has a goal of connecting Bennington and Albany for both Freight and passenger travel. In Massachusetts, we are only a few miles from Williamstown to the proposed route. There is already an operating freight track from Hoosac Junction New York to Bennington that we could potentially connect to. These are interstate conversations and discussions we should be involved in. This is a long term goal that would involve many discussions, but we have to start somewhere.
We should establish information centers at bus stops. Getting information to people is always a challenge. I propose that we should establish information centers at bus stops, that way people who are waiting for the bus can get pertinent local, state and federal information.
A creative solution to transportation could be more publicized car sharing. We need to create a centralized board or site with car sharing info to make it easier for people to utilize car sharing to get to a centralized worksite.
As we focus on clean energy and opt for electric vehicles we need to think about how to replace gas tax. We need to make sure we can care for our roadways and the conversation should begin before we move away from gas.