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PVTA Sees Big Drop In Ridership Amid Pandemic

A PVTA bus.
Mark M. Murray
The Republican / Masslive
A PVTA bus.

The head of the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority said ridership is down significantly because of the coronavirus, but that the agency is surviving with the help of federal aid.

When Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued his stay-at-home order in March, the PVTA reduced its service.

To keep its drivers safe, passengers had to board at the back of the bus and didn’t have to pay.

Fares returned in July.

PVTA administrator Sandra Sheehan said while ridership increased in the first week of September, it’s far below where it typically is at this time of year.

“Usually, we have all the schools back in session, all the colleges and universities, and they’re a large portion of our trip generators. We are at 42% of our previous levels,” she said.

Sheehan said the PVTA ran a deficit in the fiscal year that ended in June, but was able to close it with the help of $36 million in federal money.

She said those funds have helped pay for expenses related to the coronavirus, like personal protective equipment and the cleaning of buses.

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