FRTA expands bus service program to weekends

  • FRTA buses at John W. Olver Transit Center STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 2/11/2021 1:46:20 PM
Modified: 2/11/2021 1:46:18 PM

GREENFIELD — Franklin Regional Transit Authority will expand its ACCESS micro-transit pilot program to weekends beginning Sunday, according to Administrator Tina Cote.

The transit authority launched the pilot program in 2019, allowing anyone to schedule a same-day or next-day ride throughout the week by using its mobile app. Now, they will be able to do the same on the weekend, and people can sign up either by using the app on their iPhone or can use their iPad or computer, according to FRTA Administrator Tina Cote.

Starting Sunday, Feb. 14, people will be able to ride the bus between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday for $3 per ride one way. Riders will be able to schedule a ride up to a week in advance.

Like ACCESS rides during the week, buses will take riders to destinations in four different zones on smaller curb-to-curb Demand Response buses. Demand Response is a program for transporting people over age 60 and veterans who have a 70 percent disabled rating, but anyone can ride the buses on weekends.

The four zones are: Zone 1 (Greenfield, Montague, Deerfield, Whately, Gill, Erving and Leyden); Zone 2 (Orange, New Salem, Warwick, Wendell and Erving); Zone 3 (downtown Shelburne Falls at Arms Library and Charlemont at the Park and Ride on Route 2); Zone 4 (Athol Hospital and YMCA as well as the Market Basket Plaza). Those who travel within their zone will pay $3, while those traveling between zones pay $4 per ride. Additional riders pay $1.50 and $2, respectively.

The pilot phase ran from 2019 to June 2020 and during that time, zones 3 and 4 were added. Cote said over that time, FRTA has figured out what works and what doesn’t.

“We would eventually like to have permanent weekend buses,” Cote said. “We’ll run this program for another five months and collect data about who’s riding the buses on weekends and where they’re going — grocery shopping, to the doctor or to work. Then, we can use that to request funding for weekend service.”

Cote said a one-way trip from Leyden Woods to CVS on Federal Street, for instance, would cost someone $3 ($6 for a round trip), and if someone accompanied them, it would cost another $1.50 ($3 for a round trip). If someone traveled outside their “zone,” it would cost them $4 and the person accompanying them $2.

“Those buses have the same rules as our large, fixed-route buses,” she said. “People have to provide car seats for little ones and have to wear seatbelts. If they go to the grocery store, they can only get enough to carry on and off the bus once.”

Cote said FRTA has enough funding from the state to keep the ACCESS program going through June, but can ask for more to extend the program, if needed, because though the transit authority hopes to have enough data by then, she said it’s not a “typical” year because of COVID.

“Not everyone who would is going out or riding buses or going grocery shopping,” she said. “We know some people take our buses to work, but some of those people are unemployed right now because of the pandemic.”

For more information, call FRTA 413-774-2262 or FTM dispatch at 413-773-8090 or visit

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or

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