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Ricketts to ride buses, survey other riders

GREENFIELD — Precinct 5 candidate and local activist Penny Ricketts said this week that public transportation is important to her precinct, and the entire town, and she plans to take action to bring that message to someone who might be able to do something about it.

Ricketts, who is running against Robert Wainstein for the Precinct 5 seat in Tuesday’s election, said she will ride various bus routes on June 12, two days after the town elections, to survey riders on what changes Franklin Regional Transit Authority might take to make riders’ and potential riders’ lives a little easier.

She said win or lose, she will carry through.

Ricketts, who is currently on the town’s Human Rights Commission, said she became aware that some people aren’t served like they could be, especially those who need night or weekend transportation.

She said the FRTA came before the commission several months ago and explained what its wish list would look like if it had unlimited funds. She said the agency also talked about what it currently offers, and she’s afraid it may not be enough. She said at the time that she would be willing to advocate for money for night and weekend service, if need be.

“I was without a vehicle for seven months a year ago,” said Ricketts. “Until I could afford another one, I took the bus to work and various meetings.”

Ricketts said she was lucky she found an affordable way to continue working.

“For many, weekends present the biggest hurdle,” she said. “The only option is to take the cab or walk.”

She said that people who have to take a cab to work on Saturday and Sunday spend about $15. She said that may not seem like a lot of money to some, but can be to someone working part time.

“I watch people walk around the rotary daily to work at McDonald’s, Big Y and Home Depot,” she said. “The good news is they have a job to go to and do what it takes to make their shifts each day.”

Ricketts said the bad news is that nights and weekends can present problems, because there is no bus service and people don’t want to walk long distances at night.

“I look forward to riding the various routes at different times during the day to survey the riders,” she said. “I hope when I get done, I will lessen my car usage and use the buses to and from work a few times a week.”

Ricketts said people should not assume they know who is riding FRTA buses.

“There are many students and employees on those buses who are trying to make better lives for themselves,” she said.

She said after she has finished her survey, she will present FRTA with the results. She also promised months ago to bring the results of her research back to the commission.

Greenfield’s town elections will be held Tuesday at the Guiding Star Grange Hall, 401 Chapman St., from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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