By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
Town Manager Jim Malloy told the Board of Selectmen April 22 that in a three-week period starting on March 3, 274 people used the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) service, compared to 51 people in the first 21 days of the service.
“Ridership has been up every month and the service has become popular enough that they are considering adding a second bus,” Malloy said.
Selectman Chair George Barrette said he was relieved to see the numbers on the rise.
“The naysayers said it wouldn's fly and I's glad they are wrong,” he said.
The service operates two routes: A commuter route runs from the Westborough MBTA station on Smith Valve Parkway to Westborough Office Park on Route 9, with one morning trip, one midday trip and two evening trips.
The second, local route, travels during the day along Route 30 through downtown, from the McDonald's at the intersection of Route 9 to Westborough High School. That route does not have scheduled stops, but runs as a flag route, where passengers can stop the bus anywhere along the route.
Malloy noted that Grafton has launched a similar local service to help strengthen connections from its MBTA station.
Barrette said the local service makes sense for residents of the downtown area who work in one of the town's business parks or want to shop in its commercial centers.
“I admire people who walk from downtown to Lyman Street, but who wants to do that in February?” he said.
Malloy said a marketing effort targeting the Westborough Senior Center and corporations in the business park has helped raise awareness of the service. He said many of the large corporations in town have reverse-commuters who take the train from the city to work day and now use the service to get to and from the MBTA station.
The WRTA has reached out to employers to promote the service, positioning it as a low-cost, lower-stress and environmentally friendly alternative to driving to work. Employers who subsidize workers” MBTA passes may also be eligible for tax credits.