By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – Officials from the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) held a meeting at the Doubletree Hotel Feb. 19 with local business leaders to discuss a new shuttle service that transports commuters to several office parks to and from the Westborough MBTA commuter rail station.
Steve O”Neil, WRTA's administrator, said since the kickoff Dec. 2, the number of riders had started slowly, but was anticipated to grow once the weather improved and more people became aware of the service.
The 12-passenger shuttle's runs from the commuter station are timed to coincide as close as possible to several incoming trains from Boston and Worcester, he said. Commuters are then picked up at different times in the afternoon to return to the station. The MBTA is in the process of updating its schedules, O”Neil added. Once that is complete, additional pick up and drop off times will be added.
Following the morning commute, the shuttle makes runs up and down East and West Main streets from approximately 8:35 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Daytime stops include the Westborough Senior Center, Bay State Commons, Westborough Public Library, Forbes Municipal Building, and Westborough High School. Residents may also “flag” down the shuttles and ask the driver to drop them off at different places along the main routes.
The cost is $1.50 each way for riders age 14 and up. The elderly/disabled rate is $.75. The rate for children ages 5-13 accompanied by an adult is also $.75 and children under age 5 can ride for free. Riders must have exact change.
The service will only run Monday through Friday; there will be no weekend service or service on New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day.
John Church, a project manager with the Central Mass Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC), who has been working with the WRTA, said there were 51 riders in December and 108 in January. Most of those, he noted, were on the “local side, with a few commuters.”
Westborough Town Planner Jim Robbins said it had been “a dream” for the town to have this type of shuttle for years.
“This is a great thing – it gives us an urban amenity,” he said. “I really encourage people to try it and share their feedback.”
O”Neil said both the CMRPC and WRTA were eager to work with businesses to help get the word out about the shuttle, including creating posters that could be displayed at companies and sending customized emails.
Several people in attendance asked if certain routes could be added, such as picking up passengers at the Fountainhead Apartments on Route 9 and then bringing them to Technology Park. Others asked about weekend services. Tin Htway, the town's building commissioner, noted that many of the town's offices are currently relocated at the Department of Public Works Building on Oak Street while Town Hall is being renovated. As such, he asked if the shuttle could bring residents there.
O”Neil noted that at this point the WRTA was not planning on any new routes or stops, particularly any which necessitated going onto Route 9.
“But we are listening to your feedback,” he stressed. “We will add on, slowly but smartly.”
For a complete schedule of shuttle times, visit http://www.therta.com/schedules/westborough