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North Adams Bus Route Shifted In Response To Price Chopper Closure

This is a picture of a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus
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The regional transit authority is answering calls to shift a bus route in response to the closure of the Price Chopper grocery store in North Adams.The Route 3 bus run by the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority will now go right through the Big Y parking lot instead of on Veterans Memorial Drive in North Adams. The change was made at the request of Mayor Richard Alcombright, according to BRTA Administrator Bob Malnati.

“He asked what we could do to possibly assist with the residents of the West End to get to the grocery store because Price Chopper had closed,” Malnati explained. “I explained that we could do this minor detail change to accommodate folks leaving from Main St. North Adams or if customers continued on they could stop at the Stop & Shop towards the north end of town.”

The Price Chopper that closed in February is near two low-income neighborhoods where transportation is an issue, according to Alcombright.

“We’re talking about folks that kind of come into town empty-handed, but could be leaving with six, seven, eight, nine bags of groceries,” said Alcombright.

The route fare is unchanged. A local trip is $1.75 and $1.40 for those with a Charlie Card. Reduced fare is $0.85 and $0.70, respectively, for seniors, K-12 students, people with Medicare and disabled persons. Route 3 monthly ridership dropped by roughly 4.5 percent from February to March to 3,396. But, Malnati says annual ridership should surpass the fiscal 2015 mark of more than 40,000 since the fiscal 2016 figure is already 77 percent of the yearly total.

Alcombright has been working with Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, which represents 17 county congregations and groups, to insure access to food since the Price Chopper closed. Wendy Krom of BIO says the group is continuing to encourage the Golub Corporation, which owns and operates Price Chopper stores, to market the North Adams location to another food retailer. Krom says Neil Golub wrote the group in March saying the matter has his personal attention. Since then she says BIO has collected nearly 1,000 signatures on letters of support.

“On Wednesday we’re going to take the support letters and a ‘Thank You’ letter to Mr. Golub and ask for a meeting so that we can have a more thorough update,” said Krom.

Mayor Alcombright adds the company has told him it is doing what it can to facilitate a sale to another grocery store.

“Had Price Chopper built another location here in the city then they certainly wouldn’t be marketing to another food distributor because of the competitive nature of that,” Alcombright said. “The fact that they’ve left the city kind of leaves it wide-open. I’ve certainly expressed my thoughts that it would be great to have another neighborhood market there as has the interfaith group. Kudos to the interfaith group. They’ve been very active and pushing to see that if in fact it can support another food entity that the Golubs keep that at the front of their minds.”

Krom says BIO has also discussed expanding community gardens in the area near the former Price Chopper and a mobile food pantry and market. She says the group is focused on food insecurity as a larger regional issue by advocating for funding the Massachusetts Food Trust Program.

“That could provide creative financing options like low-interest loans or grants to ideas such as expanding the community gardens or a mobile pantry,” Krom said. “And they are also talking about encouraging more residents to participate in gleaning with the farmers. There’s an active group, Hoosac Harvest, that organizes gleanings from the fields. After the fields have been harvested by the farmers there’s still a lot of food left.”

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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