Orange discusses MART changes
ORANGE — The selectboard met with Rebecca Bialecki and Pat Larson last week to discuss the proposed changes to the Montachusett Area Regional Transit (MART) service. With MART planning to stop all call-up dial-a-ride service in favor of expanded static routes there are many who are upset because they have no means to get to the bus stops. MART has cited significant budget costs as the reason for the change.
Bialecki and Larson originally started an advocacy group 15 years ago for the purpose of bringing together the two local transportation services, MART and the Franklin Regional Transit Service (FRTA). In the past the MART and FRTA services have overlapped in both Athol and Orange. Now they meet at Hannaford for customers to change services. The two women would like to restart the advocacy group again before the towns lose all services. They noted that once the services were up and running they took a step back and relaxed on the advocacy for the service, and in doing so, services are now starting to lapse. Bialecki noted that the group should have kept up with the efforts regardless. “We are a community that took this for granted for too long and really didn’t do the advocacy that was needed,” she said.
Larson noted that the new group would have to work to make sure the two transportation companies at least continue to meet at Hannaford. “It would be a setback if after 15 years we lose it all and have to start over again,” she said. Bialecki also noted the increase in jobs becoming available in the area through businesses opening at North Quabbin Commons. “If people have no way to get to those jobs they might as well not exist,” Bialecki said. “We don’t have to live with theses cuts forever. With the right kind of motivation now we can restore these services.”