SPRINGFIELD -- The City Council is urging the state Legislature to increase funding for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority as riders face a fare increase and threatened reductions in bus service.
A resolution approved by the council this week says PVTA is faced with a $3.1 million shortfall in its operating budget next fiscal year, beginning July 1, due to the state's "level funding" policy for public transportation. The resolution urges more state funds for PVTA and other regional transit authorities.
"PVTA is now forced to respond by reducing service and raising fares for Springfield residents who depend the most on the bus and can least afford to pay higher prices," the resolution says.
The PVTA Advisory Board approved a 20 percent increase in the bus fare on Monday, to take effect July 1. A basic one-way fare will rise from the current $1.25 to $1.50.
In face of $3.1 million budget gap, PVTA approves delayed service cuts, plan to hike bus fares 20 percent
PVTA voted on a 20 percent fare hike effective July 1. That's a reduction from the 25 percent hike the PVTA originally asked for.
The board also approved a series of service cutbacks, but delayed implementation until late September in the hope PVTA could get an additional $2.5 million from the state in its new budget. The cuts could include reducing service after 6 p.m. on most routes.
The council said it "urges in the strongest terms" that the Legislature approve a statewide budget of $88 million for in the public transportation budget, believing that amount reflects the true needs of the PVTA and other regional transits. That compares to an $80.4 million budget set by the state Department of Transportation and Gov. Charlie Baker, the council said.
Councilor Jesse Lederman, the lead sponsor of the resolution, said he is deeply concerned about the impact on riders.
"For the second year in a row, these proposed cuts come on top of what was already cut last year, and are slowly chipping away at a public transportation system that many of our residents rely on to get to work, school, the grocery store, and medical appointments," Lederman said.
Councilors Melvin Edwards, Marcus Williams and Adam Gomez co-sponsored the resolution.
Resolutions are nonbinding but reflect the opinion or will of the council.