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Extra PVTA Fee Hits Paratransit Riders Taking Longer Trips

A PVTA bus.
The Republican/ Masslive.com / photos
A PVTA bus.

Fare increases just went into effect at the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority. They include a significant increase for some people with disabilities.

The rates to take a paratransit van are up fifty cents, except for those who want a ride that takes them more than three quarters of a mile from a PVTA bus route. Those now cost $1.50 more, adding up to $5.

PVTA's administrator, Sandra Sheehan, said the longer trips cost more than twice as much to provide.

"Those trips are longer and it takes a vehicle out of service for a longer period of time," Sheehan said. "So the [PVTA advisory] board felt the individuals that were making those trips should make a larger contribution."

The increase was opposed by Stavros, a Pioneer Valley agency that advocates for people with disabilities.

"We fully believe that individuals outside of the three-quarters-of-a-mile radius may be individuals that have less access to transportation alternatives and it might cause a financial burden," said Stavros' Jennifer Lee. "They're put in a position where they may have to choose between affording necessities like food and rides outside of their area."

The PVTA is counting on fewer people using the more costly service. The agency, facing a budget deficit, has raised fees across the board and is threatening service cuts.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education, and politics. Working with correspondent Morley Safer, he reported from locations across the United States as well as from India, Costa Rica, Italy, and Iraq.
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