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PVTA hearings underway

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority has begun a series of 10 public hearings throughout the region to hear what people think about proposed bus route changes intended to expand and improve service throughout Hampshire and Hampden counties.

New routes are proposed in both Northampton and Amherst, as well as many other changes to routes servicing Hampshire County’s two largest communities. The recommendations were unveiled in February after the authority’s yearlong comprehensive analysis of its bus routes.

Three hearings have already been held in Springfield and one in Holyoke, with the remaining six hearings scheduled over the next two weeks. Two of those hearings will be held in Hampshire County, one in Northampton on Wednesday, April 9, in the Council Chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building from 4 to 7 p.m.; and another in Amherst on Monday, April 14, at Town Hall, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Other hearings will be held in Chicopee, Holyoke and Springfield.

Comments received on the proposed service recommendations will be sent to the PVTA Advisory Board for consideration. The board is expected to take a vote on a final package in June.

Among the recommendations are two new routes in Amherst and an express bus between the University of Massachusetts campus and the Holyoke Transportation Center.

The biggest change is a proposal to create a new weekday bus route looping through Amherst and the UMass campus at 40-minute intervals. Two Amherst routes would be discontinued and folded into this new route — one that services Puffer’s Pond and Atkins Farms, and the Amity Shuttle.

The second new Amherst route proposal would run in one-hour intervals Monday through Saturday when colleges are not in session. The route would connect UMass’ Haigis Mall, North Pleasant Street, downtown Amherst, South Pleasant Street and Atkins Farms.

PVTA also is considering a new express bus connecting UMass at the Haigis Mall to the Holyoke Transportation Center and the Holyoke Mall, with a stop at Mount Holyoke College off Route 116 in South Hadley along the way.

Northampton would get a new crosstown route that would serve the Northampton Survival Center, YMCA and several other stops in the city.

Other key service changes that are part of the board’s recommendations involve expanding the hours for Northampton’s two existing routes and expanding routes between Northampton and Holyoke Community College and between Northampton and Amherst.

Meanwhile, the R42 bus between Northampton and Williamsburg would expand to running every hour.

For specific information on route changes visit www.pvta.com.

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