Survey: COVID-19, Lack Of Basic Service Are Public Transit Deterrents In Western Mass.

Jan 26, 2021

A new survey shows that COVID-19 is keeping people from riding public transportation in Massachusetts.

The survey gathered the responses of more than 1,200 residents of nearly a dozen of the state's cities, including Springfield, Holyoke and Pittsfield.

It found that fear of getting COVID-19 was the number one reason people who would like to ride mass transit were not.

A majority of those who are riding say they're not comfortable doing so.

According to Richard Parr, research director at the MassINC Polling Group, some respondents reported things like "other riders not wearing masks, drivers in some cases not even wearing masks, not enough social distance to get their six feet from other people."

A spokeswoman for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority said it continues to enforce mask-wearing, and to disinfect vehicles daily.

According to the poll, respondents were far more likely to use a car to get where they needed to go, both before the pandemic and since.

The survey also found that a lack of service plays a larger role in people deciding to avoid mass transit in the western part of the state.

"There are some indications that in the western part of the state, just the basic level of service is not adequate for people to make them think they could rely on it as sort of their main way of getting around," Parr said.

Twenty-six percent of respondents in the western Massachusetts cities surveyed said there isn't a stop or station near where they live, compared to 17% statewide.