Park St construction causes detours in PVTA route


Maddy Ritter ’20 waited at the PVTA stop outside of the Mount Holyoke Art Museum on Monday, Sept. 18 to catch the 38 to her class at Hampshire College, but the bus never arrived.

“I was at the bus stop probably for 30 minutes before I left,” Ritter said. As it got later, Ritter walked to the Blanchard stop where she found two other students waiting for the bus. The three of them waited for another 20 minutes before they saw the bus come up from the opposite direction and drive to the Mary Woolley stop. 

After running up the hill to finally catch the bus, Ritter learned from the driver that the buses were bypassing certain stops due to an ongoing construction project on Park Street.

Routes for the PVTA, the bus service that transports Mount Holyoke students to Amherst College, Hampshire College and UMass Amherst, were forced to take an official detour. The detour went into effect Sept. 8 at Mount Holyoke for PVTA routes 38 and 39,  to avoid the construction. The alternate route bypasses the Park Street stop, the Mount Holyoke Art Museum stop and the Blanchard stop. Instead, the buses continue along College Street before entering the campus by turning down Morgan Street and into Pratt Hall Road. Once they arrived at the Mary Woolley stop, buses proceed normally.

Glenn Barrington, general manager of UMass Transit, explained that the reason for the detour was because the South Hadley Department of Public Works was repairing a steam leak that had occurred right in the middle of Park Street. Barrington noted that bus routes would return to the usual route in the evenings when the construction had finished for the day. 

Still, Park Street construction ended Sept. 24, and buses continue to take alternate routes. Some miscommunication prompted drivers to continue to take the alternative route even after the detour ended. 

“There are times when we will end the detour and the drivers won’t necessarily get the information,” a UMass Transit representative said. He also said that it is possible that drivers forgot to return to the normal route after the detour ended.

Ritter thinks that both the PVTA and Mount Holyoke could have better communication with students regarding what stops are in use. “There was no sign anywhere,” she said, “[There was] nothing on the PVTA app saying it wasn’t going to be at those stops.” 

She ended up arriving to her 75-minute class 40 minutes late on the first day of the route change. 

“I was really embarrassed walking in halfway through class even though I really couldn’t have known better,” she said.  

Barrington said that UMass Transit was unable to send staff to post notices at the stops last week; however he did say that a PVTA alert had been put up online regarding the route change. 

He recommended the UMass Transit Twitter page for the most consistent updates regarding any detours affecting the bus line. Because construction is still continuing, Barrington said, “There may be other times when detours will be implemented.”  He further advised students to wait at the Mary Woolley or Stone Shelter stops until the route returns to normal.