SRPINGFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority will receive $680,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation to reduce travel times and create greater access to jobs for rural residents in Western Massachusetts.
The money will fund a transit review and improvement planning study, the Department of Transportation said Wednesday. That would include recommendations for improved transit services and facilities, new routes, modern fare collection systems and integrating low or no-emission buses.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the PVTA was transporting more than 10 million passengers a year on a 2019 budget of $39 million. For several months this year it provided essential trips only, and has slowly returned to running portions of its former service.
PVTA operates in Hampden and Hampshire counties, with major hubs in Springfield’s Union Station, in Holyoke and in and around the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus.
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced Wednesday 25 projects in 17 states sharing approximately $8.5 million in funding through the Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) program.
“We are pleased to partner with these grant recipients to find new ways to help rural residents reach the jobs and critical services they need, particularly during the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a news release.
All 25 HOPE projects are in federally designated Opportunity Zones, which were created to revitalize low-income and economically distressed communities using private investment. Additionally, 19 of the projects are located in or benefit rural areas, consistent with the department’s Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) initiative.
The Federal Transit Administration received eligible applications from applicants in 17 states totaling $11 million and evaluated project proposals based on criteria outlined in the HOPE Notice of Funding Opportunity.