PVTA, supporters laud new $55M Springfield operations center
SPRINGFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority showed off its new $55 million, state-of-the-art operations and maintenance center on Cottage Street Monday, saying the facility enhances its mission of providing vital transportation to the region including thousands of low-income riders.
State and federal legislators, area mayors, representatives of state and federal agencies, and PVTA officials were among the dozens of people attending the ribbon cutting ceremony.
"We're very excited," PVTA Administrator Sandra Sheehan said. "The drivers, staff and everyone have been very pleased. We are going to be able to create efficiencies by operating out of this facility. We were at a very small location. It was overcrowded and its configuration was less than ideal."
The relocation in April was the culmination of nine years of planning, design and construction, Sheehan said. Construction funds were provided by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, with the Federal Transit Administration funding pre-construction costs.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno congratulated PVTA on its new facility, saying transportation is extremely important for people needing to get to work, school, appointments and other destinations, and extremely important for workforce development.
U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal said the most important efficiency in life “is the ease in which we get from one point to another.”
"And that is part of the mission statement of the PVTA," Neal said, citing Monday's event as "a day of achievement" and the culmination of a team effort by involved officials.
State Sen. Eric Lesser said the PVTA is the second largest transit system in Massachusetts behind the MBTA in Boston. The new facility is about serving vulnerable communities and “about doing the most to catalyze communities and provide opportunity to lift people up,” Lesser said.
"Two thirds of the riders of the PVTA are low income, more than 60 percent are men and women of color, and more than 60 percent, if this ride was taken away, if this access were restricted would have no other way to get around," Lesser said.
The PVTA had been operating out of the Springfield Street Railway Trolley Barn in the North End for the past 44 years.
While the trolley barn was just 78,000 square feet, the new facility is 225,0000 square feet and is located on 18 acres of land.
The general contractor was Fontaine Brothers Inc. of Springfield.
State Reps. Carlos Gonzalez and Bud Williams were among legislators who said the PVTA serves a large number of low-income riders who need the bus service for work, school, doctor appointments and other vital needs.
"This is about the quality of life, quality of health, quality of employment opportunities, economic development for many of the residents that I represent," said Gonzalez, of Springfield. "Low income community folks need to have transportation and affordable transportation to get to all those appointments that are important to their lives."
Gonzalez also saw regional transportation system as a key component to fighting poverty.