AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – University of Massachusetts Amherst students created a new survey asking Pioneer Valley residents for their input on Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA).

This survey, which is a part of Valley On Board (VOB), aims to redesign the transit network to better serve the current and future riders in the next 20 years and can help educate people about the future of transit, according to a news release sent to 22News from UMass Amherst. The survey also asks the residents what improvements they would like to see the transit authority make.

Klara Ingersoll, Master’s in Regional Planning Student at UMass Amherst, said, “The PVTA, I think is very important for UMass students.”

The students are particularly focused on getting feedback for improving the PVTA in environmental justice communities, such as minority, low-income, tribal, and indigenous populations, and communities facing environmental threats, or persistent poverty. The new survey will be online and will be open to responses through December, which will add to the responses the students have already received.

“The survey will give us input about where routes that could be added for example express that could be added, locations that could be served that aren’t being served,” said Ingersoll.

Valley On Board is under the direction of Camille Barchers, the assistant professor of regional planning at UMass Amherst, and VOB is part of a larger two-year partnership between the PVTA, the UMass Amherst Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning department, and Civil and Environmental Engineering department, and Western New England University. 

“We’re definitely trying to help people with equity and access to the PVTA system and more modes of transportation for people in the Pioneer Valley,” said Joyia Smikle Masters in Regional Planning Student at UMass Amherst.

PVTA was awarded grants for the Pioneer Valley Transit Review and Improvement Planning Study (PV-TRIPS) which conducts the planning of routes, services, and facilities for the design of a sustainable transit system. This survey is the third of four phases of the VOB project, where the PVTA will finish the review process and develop a finance and implementation plan.

“Transportation is helpful for all aspects of planning. People have to get to where they need to go. So having this studio has definitely helped me with my outlook on accessibility,” said Smikle.

With the completion of the survey, participants are able to enter a raffle to win one of four $25 Visa gift cards. On December 7th, the projected students will incorporate the responses to that point and create a presentation that will be live-streamed on the VOB website.