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Berkshire Group Launches Grassroots Public Transit Campaign

Ride Works to End in Berkshires
Berkshire Regional Transit Authority

A recently launched grassroots campaign advocating for improved public transportation in the Berkshires is now online, and some are hoping that it will catch on in communities across Massachusetts. 

The Wish I Had Transit campaign was recently launched by volunteers in the Northern Berkshires, in less than two weeks since the idea of using social media to demonstrate the need for improved public transportation was discussed at a community forum in North Adams.

Al Bashevkin is Executive Director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, the group that launched the campaign.

"We're really hopeful that people will go to our Wish I Had Transit website or will tweet @WishIHadTransit, let us know what their dreams for public transportation are, where they would like to go if they had bus right now, and that will help us and that will help planners have a much better understanding about what the needs for transportation are," said Bashevkin.

Gary Shepard, administrator for the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority said that he’s in support of any way to find out more about the needs and wishes of his customers.  

"If there is a need we are missing, we want to be a part of helping," said Shepard.

And the nascent campaign through Facebook, Twitter, and WishIHadTransit.org is already being brought to other areas of the state.

Caroline Webster, a campus organizer for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group at Berkshire Community College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts attended the March 8th transportation forum where the idea was first discussed, and since that time, has spoken to other campus organizers across Massachusetts to get their schools involved.

"We currently have students who are working at this same campaign at UMass Dartmouth, and at UMass Amherst, and at Fitchburg State." Webster said, "Our hope is to get it statewide."

In the Twitter campaign, Webster said that a variety of hashtags can be used when tweeting @WishIHadTransit, including #WishIHadaBus, #WishIHadaTrain, #WishIHadaBikelane, and #WishIhadTransit.

As state legislators are in the beginning stages of forming their state budget proposals, Webster said the real-time data from the social media campaign could prove very effective.

"And that is really what's going to be good legislative ammo for our representatives to use in creating legislation on this issue for the public in regions all across the state," said Webster.

For more information visit:  http://www.wishihadtransit.org/

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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