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Plant your ideas for FRTA service at Greenfield Farmers Market Saturday

GREENFIELD — Amid all the zucchini and tomatoes, the plan is to sprout ideas about public transit.

Saturday’s Greenfield Farmers Market may have plenty of ears of corn this weekend, but it will also have the ears of transportation planners, listening to people’s ideas about what’s needed to strengthen Franklin Regional Transit Authority service.

As part of an ongoing “comprehensive service analysis” of what is geographically the state’s largest regional transit authority, planners from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments will supplement a series of “community conversations” with a table at Saturday’s farmers market from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for getting people to offer their thoughts about bus service.

Although the planners purposely scheduled the four May sessions — in Turners Falls, Greenfield, Orange and Shelburne Falls — early enough in the day when working people dependent on FRTA buses could attend, there was still criticism from people that they were inconvenient.

“So we’re hoping people will be there who couldn’t attend previously,” said Transportation Planner Meghan Rhodes.

Saturday’s table will provide surveys, comment forms and maps on which people can mark where they live and travel most often, and also opportunities for people to explain their reasons for using or not using public transportation.

“We’re trying to get a whole range of input to help with our ongoing service analysis,” said Rhodes, adding that more than 100 surveys have already been collected, not including the 50 or more that were gathered by volunteers on FRTA bus rides.

The plan being created by the COG, part of a statewide assessment of public transit, is designed to give FRTA the opportunity to improve local fixed-route bus services, identify new markets and riders, address environmental concerns and meet the region’s growing economic development needs.

When completed next June, the regional transit plan should outline specific needs to improve transit in the region and provide a foundation for future funding investment by the Massachusetts Legislature, according to COG planners.

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