The PVTA is a staple of Western Massachusetts transportation, being a constant factor in the lives of the people that live here. Across the five colleges, the PVTA is part of the college culture, with it being known as the “piv-tah” at schools like Mount Holyoke College or more simply the “p-v-t-a” at other campuses. Regardless of its pronunciation, the PVTA is a system that so many of us rely on, especially for those late nights at UMass.
For those less familiar, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) is a regional transit authority serving the Pioneer Valley region of Western Massachusetts, including Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, and Amherst. The PVTA was established in 1974 to provide public transportation services to residents and visitors in the region, and currently operates a fleet of over 170 vehicles, including buses, vans, and paratransit vehicles.
From the perspective of a UMass student, I understand the importance of our beloved bus system, especially for the safety of our students. With such a large campus, getting to and from class can be a journey in itself especially for those 8 a.m. classes. A junior at UMass, Eric, made the following comment about what the PVTA means to him: “It gets me to class, and it gets me to the bar. What more can I ask for?” With that being said, it’s hard to imagine our lives without it.
However, I will say it can be frustrating after a long day of classes to be met with a bus so packed that not even a small child could squeeze on. I choose to look at this as a sign to enjoy a nice walk home to my off-campus apartment, even though it was not exactly my choice. Although I will say those nice strolls home would be much better if Western Massachusetts weather would cooperate a little more.
The bus drivers that take control of the PVTA deserve some sort of award for dealing with the overflow of students going to class and the overflow of students going to the bars. College students during the week and college students during the weekend are an entirely different breed, and the bus drivers that endure those late-night hours are truly heroes of Western Massachusetts. Regardless, the convenience of the buses will always outweigh the price of an Uber or Lyft, even if you have to wait for a less packed bus to come along.
Although a packed bus can be annoying to deal with, a packed bus full of intoxicated college students means fewer students driving under the influence. Being in such a small town can mean fewer Ubers and higher prices, making it difficult for students to make their way home after a night out. The bus is a shining light at the end of the night; ensuring we get from point A to point B safely, and without risking lives in the process. For those going out, always remember the bus is an option!