Today, Congressman John Olver and Senator Scott Brown announced that the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) will receive $2 million to work with community partners to raise awareness and availability of transportation resources for veterans, their families, and the community.
The funding, awarded through the Federal Transportation Administration's (FTA) Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI), allows BRTA to continue to invest in its rural Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and establish a "One Call/One Click Transportation Resource Center." This center, located in the BRTA Intermodal Transportation Center, simplifies access to transportation by connecting customers in one place to rides and transportation options provided by a variety of transportation providers and programs.
"Approximately 4 in 10 veterans live in rural areas with limited access to affordable public transportation. This funding allows BRTA to enhance their services, thereby providing veterans and their families with convenient access to the transportation they need in order to further their education, reach their place of employment, receive medical treatment, and take advantage of a variety of community services," said Congressman John Olver.
"This critical transportation funding is yet another way to honor the veterans who have served our country. Connecting our veterans with transportation to meet their daily needs, get to work or visit a VA Medical Center makes life a little easier and ensures they have access to the benefits they have earned," said Senator Scott Brown.
The VTCLI is an innovative, federally coordinated partnership that will make it easier for U.S. veterans, active service members, military families, and others to learn about and arrange for locally available transportation services that connect them with work, education, health care, and other vital services in their communities.
"This critical federal funding allows the BRTA to enhance its state-of-the-art rural intelligent transportation system," said BRTA Administrator Gary Shepard. "BRTA is committed to working with community partners like Soldier On and the Red Cross to raise awareness of transportation options and available services for veterans and their families."
"We thank Congressman John Olver for his support of the BRTA and its effort to expand its service and commitment to veterans in western Massachusetts. The relationship between Soldier On and the BRTA will be a model that will be used around the country that should allow community based veterans to access services from the VA and other designated agencies more easily," said John F. Downing, Soldier On President/CEO,
The BRTA serves the 22 town and 2 city member communities in Berkshire County by operating a rural fixed route bus system and paratransit services. Annually, the BRTA serves 517,000 riders with fourteen bus routes, 11 of which are in Pittsfield, four in North Adams and the remaining routes to outlying areas within Berkshire County. The BRTA also operates the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center, which connects local bus and taxi services with intercity rail, intercity bus services and pedestrian access to the central business district.