|Richard A. Davey, Secretary
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
10 Park Plaza Suite 4160
Boston, MA 02116
Comments submitted on October 5, 2012 via e-mail to:
Re: Public Meeting - Pittsfield (10/4/2012)
Thank you for choosing Pittsfield last night as one of your deparment's fifteen venues for public meetings. Thank you, too, for providing funding to allow the BRTA to operate service until the meeting concluded. My husband and I are frequent BRTA riders and we appreciated being able to ride the bus from Pittsfield to our home in Lenox at 8:30 pm last night. There were about 10 other meeting attendees who took advantage of this; during the ride home on the #2 bus we all commiserated at how our tax money should provide evening transit service on a daily basis.
It felt great to be on the bus after the evening meeting in Pittsfield. Public transportation is community-building. I have made friends on the bus and I made a few more last night.
I represent the town of Lenox on the advisory board of the BRTA. I am on a sub-committee of the BRTA advisory board that is looking to propose simplifications in the fare structure and bringing the Charlie card - along with new features and transit passes - which will go to public hearing later in the year. I represent Green-Rainbow Party voters within the Berkshire Hampshire Franklin and Hampden State Senatorial District on the party's State Committee. I am also a candidate in next month's general election for State Representative in the 4th Berkshire District.
I join Rep. Farley-Bouvier in focusing most of my testimony on public transportation.
My fellow BRTA board members, my fellow riders, and many other advocates in last night's well-attended meeting clearly articulated to you the need for daily early morning to late evening public transit service. You heard clearly the economic justice arguments, the economic development arguments, and the environmental arguments for public investment in this essential infrastructure.
I emphatically add support to those comments and wish to add a few observations and assertions:
1. The lack of quality public transportation in Berkshire County is a factor in local population decline.
2. The need for quality public transportation as an economic development investment will continue to grow even after economic recovery. Prevailing wages and benefits, especially entry level wages, are not keeping pace with the escalating costs of private car ownership.
3. We need to think beyond the main population corridors of Route 7 in the south and Route 8 in the north. Economic development and employment opportunities for communities in the 'hill towns' to the east of these corridors will be encouraged when the transit system provides link lines through the hill towns and into the Pioneer Valley. East-west routes 20, 9, and possibly 2 must be part of the broader economic development, economic justice, and environmental vision.
I am known in the community as an active solution-seeking advocate for public transportation, for educating the public about its key role, and an example of someone who uses the system and, by doing so, encourages even car-owners to discover ways that public transportation can be incorporated into daily life and enterprise. Because my husband and I happen to live on a bus line we were able to transition from being a two-car family to being a one-car family.
Last night I listened to my community. I believe that everyone who testified to the deficiencies in the system was earnest and sincere. There are many more of them who feel thus. It is obvious that critical infrastructure needs are not being met and we are hurt by that. If I am elected to represent the 4th Berkshire District next month you will find in me a friend and supporter of fair progressive tax and budget solutions towards the funding, promoting, and administering of quality public transportation and Chapter 90 funding in my district and in the Commonwealth.
Lee Scott Laugenour
205 Housatonic St.
Lenox, MA 01240