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The Berkshires

Governor Patrick transportation budget may improve BRTA service

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Albany/HV: Governor Patrick transportation budget may improve BRTA service
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Governor Patrick is calling for an overhaul of the Commonwealth's transportation system. He's outlined some initiatives. YNN's Madeleine Rivera has more on how the governor wants to fund his plan and what it can bring to Berkshire County.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- "I take a bus every day. Otherwise, I'd have to take a taxi and that adds up," said Julie Warrington, a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority customer.

She takes the bus two times a day to get to work and is just one of many who rely on the bus for transportation. So when service stops or is unpredictable, customers like Courtney Gerry face a difficult situation.

"I work 2:30 to 5:30 and where I work, the bus doesn't come back into town when I get out of work. So I constantly have to rely on other people to bring me home," Gerry said.

In his State of the Commonwealth address last week, Governor Patrick called for an overhaul of the current transportation system. He wants to raise transportation revenue to $13 billion over the next 10 years and suggested raising income tax to fund this.

"The governor's proposal is long overdue. Transportation and maintenance and service and opportunity to expand service has been ignored and set aside for so long now," said Gary Shepard, Berkshire Regional Transit Authority Administrator.

As part of this transportation proposal, BRTA's budget would increase from $2 million to $5 million. This could bring increased service during nights and weekends.

But the main concern that most people have is whether or not they'll see some changes despite the increased budget that the governor is proposing.

"That's a very legitimate concern. I bet you 99 percent of the residents in Berkshire County who are voters and tax payers are not aware that a penny and quarter now and even more of the sales tax is going directly to the MBTA and not coming back to them. That's a legitimate concern," said Shepard.

Still, other customers like Justin Pierce are hopeful.

"Massachusetts has its major population hubs. You've got Boston, Chicopee, Springfield, the bigger cities. And Pittsfield does rank among one of them. I mean, I can't see why we wouldn't get funding," he said.

Optimism that improvements will be seen soon after the budget is enacted this summer.

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