TOURISM

After hundreds of ferry cancellations this year alone, the Steamship Authority has announced it’s planning to hire an outside firm to audit its entire operation.

The authority, which runs ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, detailed its plans at a meeting held on the Vineyard Tuesday night.

Chelsea Kline of Northampton, Massachusetts, right, a Democratic challenger to state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, of Amherst, leaves nomination papers in April with Hatfield Town Clerk Lydia Szych.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

We start this week by taking a look at the Massachusetts state Senate seat formerly held by Amherst Democrat Stan Rosenberg. There are now at least four declared candidates: one on the ballot and three write-ins. 

The rail platform at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

A working group says seasonal passenger rail service between Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and New York City is a possibility, and that the so-called Berkshire Flyer could start running in the next couple of years.

The Airbnb posting for a bedroom rented out by Northampton, Mass., resident Rachael Naismith.
Screen shot / Airbnb

The budget recently approved by the Massachusetts Senate would add a new tax to short-term room rentals such as Airbnb. The company is in favor of the tax, but not everyone is as enthusiastic.

The Senate proposal would apply the 5.7 percent state hotel tax to Airbnb-type rentals. Cities and towns would be able to tack on another six percent.

Rachael Naismith of Northampton has been renting a room in her home through Airbnb for more than four years, and doesn't sound thrilled with the plan.

A screenshot from the West Mass branding video.
Video by Steve Porter / PORTERHOUSE MEDIA

Booster organizations for western Massachusetts are pausing their rollout of a new brand for the region. "West Mass" was chosen earlier this year as a new name for the Pioneer Valley, the region made up of Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

The new moniker, commissioned by the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, was geared toward attracting tourists and new businesses to the region.

But closer to home, "West Mass" did not go over well.

File photo / The Republican

With one to two feet of fresh snow on the ground after this week’s winter storm, Berkshire County ski areas say they’ll be able to do something they couldn’t do this time last winter: stay open. While there has been more snow this ski season, business on the slopes has still been something of a mixed bag.

At Bousquet Mountain in Pittsfield, Sherry Roberts said they haven’t set any records, but business has been steady this season. And boy did they need it.