MA: MeVa to expand services with $1.9M grant

May 22, 2024
Merrimack Valley Transit will use the state grant to expand two routes that connect workers with job opportunities and training.

May 21—HAVERHILL — A state grant of $1.9 million will enable the Merrimack Valley Transit (MeVa) to expand two routes that will open the door to job opportunities and training and help workers retain jobs they already have.

MeVa will also use its new grant money to acquire easy-to-access "low floor" vans.

MeVa will extend its #14 bus, which currently runs from Haverhill to the new Amazon distribution center at Osgood Landing, farther south along Route 125 to Lawrence.

A new #11 express bus will be deployed to connect workers in Lawrence and Haverhill with job centers in Newburyport, including Anna Jacques Hospital, the Graf Road business park, and the downtown restaurant district.

Both routes will begin in September, according to MeVa Administrator and CEO Noah Berger.

The money comes from $37 million in grant funding to support regional public transportation announced last week by the Healey-Driscoll Administration.

The funding from three grant programs will go to Regional Transit Authorities (RTA), Councils on Aging, and other entities for vehicles, to support fleet electrification, to enhance and expand existing transit services, expand service hours, improve rural connectivity, and assist with operating and capital expenses.

Grant awards totaling almost $20 million will be used to purchase vehicles for public transportation needs under the Community Transit Grant Program (CTGP).

Also, under the CTGP, more than $2 million is being awarded for projects expanding mobility for older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals.

In a third grant program, $15 million is being provided to increase operating and capital funding for transit providers through the Regional Transit Innovation Grant (RTIG) Program.

"On behalf of our current and future riders, all of us at MeVa are grateful to the Massachusetts Legislature for including this funding in the FY2024 budget and to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for recognizing the important role that RTAs play in providing our communities with access to opportunity, including employment and training," Berger said.

"For many, this new route and route extension will be the difference maker that will allow them to hold down a quality job. Additionally, it will help local businesses hire and retain the employees necessary for our economy to thrive."

According to Berger, the need for the new service was well-documented by The Eagle-Tribune in March: tinyurl.com/46r9z4hu.

The vehicle portion of the Community Transit Grant Program will give MeVA six fully accessible low-floor vans for use in the mini MeVa paratransit service.

"The new vehicles represent a paradigm shift in paratransit service, beginning the transition away from tradition high-floor cutaway vans that require riders to either climb stairs or, for riders using a mobility device, access the vehicles via a mechanical lift," Berger said.

As the new vehicles have low floor, riders can walk or roll directly onto them without having to navigate steps.

In addition, MeVa will receive three additional vans that will be leased to the Councils on Aging for Haverhill, Merrimac, and North Reading, respectively.

"We are excited to announce these grant funds because we know the money will go a long way to supporting the needs of organizations that provide mobility options across the state," Healey said. "Public transportation plays a crucial role when it comes to accessibility, community connectivity, and economic growth and we will work to ensure that all residents have access to the transportation services they need."

For more information on Regional Transit Innovation Grants, visit mass.gov/how-to/regional-transit-innovation-grant.

For more information on Community Transit Grants, visit mass.gov/community-transit-grant-program.

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