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Human Rights Commission to hold public hearing on bus scheduling

GREENFIELD — The town’s Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing on Monday to discuss what might be done to expand evening and weekend bus service in Greenfield and throughout Franklin County.

The commission will meet in Town Hall at 6 p.m.

The public hearing comes after Franklin Regional Transit Authority held several public hearings throughout the county to find out what its riders want and need. It found that riders would like evening and weekend bus service, among other services.

Currently, the FRTA does not offer weekend bus service because it does not have the funding to support it, according to FRTA Administrator Tina Cote, who will speak at the public hearing.

Commission Chairman Lewis Metaxas said the commission would like to partner with FRTA, along with interested members of the community, to create a community coalition that will advocate for more state and federal funding for FRTA.

According to Cote, FRTA is unique among public transit authorities in Massachusetts, because it covers the most rural area of the state.

She said FRTA also covers the largest geographical area, 1,100 square miles, of any transit authority in the state. But, she said, its funding is rural in nature and inherently limited.

Metaxas said the commission would like to work with legislators and stakeholders to change that imbalance.

“Evening and weekend bus service is critical to (Franklin County),” said Metaxas.

“Effective public transportation in the 21st Century is an absolute necessity for lower- and middle-income citizens, especially in our county,” he said. “Getting to a job, and back again at night or on a weekend, when you are trying to make ends meet, is not an option, it is a necessity. Getting back and forth to class to pursue a higher education is not an option, it is a necessity.”

In October, the commission intends to sponsor a legislative conference at its regular meeting. Metaxas said the commission will invite state, federal and local legislators, the FRTA, and riders and other citizens to formulate a united legislative strategy to advocate for support.

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