Well, now that we’ve finished the FRTA, there’s nowhere else to go but west. It’s time to tackle the BRTA, the westernmost RTA in the state, covering a big vertical rectangle of land spanning from Williamstown to Great Barrington. But before we can get to the system spanning lots of towns that neither you nor I have heard of, we have to review its hub, as well as the final Massachusetts Amtrak station to be reviewed on this blog!
We begin with an underwhelming part of the terminal: the outdoor bus area. It’s a barely-sheltered collection of some of the ugliest, most hostile benches you’ll ever see with numbered berths whose numbers don’t actually mean anything. And in the middle of it all is the road entrance to the station’s parking lot. Not a good start.
Things take a sharp turn for the better once you take a look at the building. This thing is modern and beautiful – I love the giant BRTA logo plastered on the side. It’s fairly well-integrated with the street next to it, Columbus Ave, as well. There are entrances from there, and a few sets of bike racks give parking for our two-wheeled friends.
The BRTA waiting area is awesome, too: it’s a spacious, airy room with lots of natural light. Interestingly, the seats all come with tables, which probably limits the capacity (who wants to sit at a table with a stranger?) but does give off a homely feel. A screen shows real-time information for BRTA arrivals and departures, while another one next to it displays schedule information for Peter Pan buses (although not Greyhound, boo-hoo). If you’re looking for a more futuristic experience, a computer with an awkward trackball mouse lets you explore a real-time BRTA map, take a survey, and even check the weather. Wowie.
And there’s lots more. Tickets for all buses that serve the station are sold at a booth, while BRTA gets an additional machine (one of the fancy RTA ones that prints out CharlieCards, too). I can’t get any information on if it’s still open, but when I was here, there was a cute café – if it is indeed closed, you can still get food from the vending machines. The BRTA customer service window was closed at the time, but luckily the bathrooms were open – the men’s room, at least, was great. Finally, there was a visitors center, but it was…closed. Darn.
As if Pittsfield didn’t need more parking, the Intermodal Center gets an underground lot. I can’t get any detailed information about it online, neither from BRTA nor Amtrak, so I can’t tell you how many spaces there are or how much it costs to park there – at the very least, it offers overnight parking. You can get down here via a staircase or an elevator.
One more flight down the stairs or elevator and you end up at the Amtrak platform. It has as many amenities as trains per day: benches, and a wheelchair lift. One train in each direction. Not much else to say here – at least you can wait in the BRTA concourse.
Station: Pittsfield (Amtrak)
Ridership: It’s dawning on me that BRTA is one of those systems that has no public ridership data. Wonderful. Well, this is their hub, so presumably it gets a lot. For Amtrak, the station got 8,270 riders in 2018, or 22 per day – honestly not bad for one train in each direction. Finally, Peter Pan and Greyhound probably add at least a little ridership here.
Pros: Pretty much every aspect of the BRTA building. It has a ton of amenities, and it’s a really pleasant place to wait.
Cons: Pretty much everything outside the BRTA building. The bus boarding area is ugly and functionally inadequate, while the Amtrak platform is super barebones.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Downtown Pittsfield: a place I didn’t get to explore at all. But you’ve got lots of restaurants, lots of businesses, and hey, a movie theater! This theater looks awesome, too.
Final Verdict: 7/10
The building counts for a lot. While both outdoor areas are pretty bad, you could always just wait in the building instead. Overall, this is a good hub for the BRTA, and it was a pleasure to keep coming back to it throughout the day.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Are you planning to eventually do reviews of transit in Cape Cod and The Islands, including the Cape Flyer? No pressure, I’m just curious. I realize that could get rather $.
Yes indeed! I’ve got some routes under my belt already, buried in the backlog.
Wow, so if you’ve done BRTA, and you’re doing the Cape and the Islands, and I’m assuming the Bellingham shuttles are in your backlog, then that’s about all of Massachusetts. What’s next? I know you said you didn’t want to open the CTTransit can of worms. You could probably do SEAT though, no?
That’s so far in the future I haven’t really thought about it. The point where I have to think about what’s coming next in New England is a long way off. For what it’s worth, though, I’m thinking the Downeaster systems – METRO and COAST.
Pittsfield has recovered somewhat from the departure of GE, who was the city’s only large employer. It does have good restaurants, a movie theater, and a good museum. The Amtrak is OK going west, but going east it is chronically late, sometimes by as much as six hours. Get on the bus. Last time this happened to me, Amtrak basically lied (to their own stationmaster) about the arrival time, keeping us hanging until after the last bus of the night had left. I didn’t get back to Boston until 3am.
Oh my gosh, that’s HORRIBLE.
I don’t recommend doing CTtransit outside of Service Changes. I’ll be honest, my favorite part of this is station reviews, so I would enjoy SEAT and thus reviews of New London, Mystic, and arguably my favorite station, Old Saybrook. I think Metro-North deserves a post for each line, but again, that’s just the foamer in me.