FRAMINGHAM – Governor Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack and other transportation leaders visited the Framingham Commuter Rail station on Wednesday, October 5, to mark a new partnership agreement between the MBTA and the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) that transfers management of the commuter rail station and its 167-space commuter parking lot to the MWRTA.
Under the terms of the new lease agreement between MassDOT, the MBTA and the MWRTA, a portion of the revenue generated from the commuter parking lots allows the MWRTA to build new bus shelters at the station and to finance an expansion of the parking area. The MWRTA is located in Framingham and the proximity to the station means the Authority will have consistent and close oversight of the property and be in a position to act on immediate maintenance needs.
“The MWRTA provides important local transit options to riders, and we are pleased to partner with them on the management and expansion of the Framingham Commuter Rail Station,” said Governor Baker. “The additional amenities, reduction in costs for the MBTA, and value of the MWRTA’s close proximity and ability to respond to immediate needs, will deliver better experiences and options for passengers.”
“Engaging in strong partnerships with our stakeholders and regional entities like MWRTA is a really important process for the MBTA now and in the future,” said Secretary Pollack. “There is far more to do than the T could ever do alone.”
“This partnership will help the MBTA reduce costs, while allowing for closer oversight of the station,” said MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. “It is another example of the T taking steps to lower its operating costs while also improving service, and being responsive to the needs of our customers.”
“Besides the obvious advantage of on-site management of the property to enhance the transit customer’s experience, the added value will be the growth of intermodal opportunities, such as ‘last mile ‘services, and bike/pedestrian amenities,” said Ed Carr, Administrator of the MWRTA. “Coupled with the additional safety and security measures and the attention to accessibility issues, this partnership initiated by the Secretary, will be the catalyst for transit oriented development (TOD) in downtown Framingham.”
The MWRTA “will be able to make sure that it’s maintain and repairs are done. It’s going to be much safer,” said Framingham Disability Commission Vice Chair Susie Santone. “It’s going to be a huge improvement for people with disabilities.”
The Framingham Station handles more than 1,400 commuter rail riders daily. Secretary Pollack began the initial effort that led to the lease agreement just over a year ago during a visit to Framingham. The new lease agreement benefits the MBTA because it relieves the MBTA of the burden of maintaining the commuter rail station and the parking lots.
With more than 130 Commuter Rail stations to maintain, MassDOT and the MBTA welcome the MWRTA’s assistance. The MBTA has partnered with other Regional Transit Agencies (RTAs), and the RTAs provide excellent overall management of transit facilities in those communities. Additionally, RTAs are eligible for federal FTA funding and frequently invest their funds into commuter rail stations, thereby helping the MBTA reduce costs and overhead.
The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority was formed in 2006 by the Massachusetts Legislature to help serve the public transportation needs of the 32-town region known as the I-495/MetroWest corridor.
Since its construction in 1885, the Framingham Station has been a key fixture in the state and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its design. The modern station serves MBTA commuter rail, bus and Amtrak, and is among the region’s busiest, with 41 MBTA trains daily and two Amtrak trains on weekdays.
Photos courtesy of Susie Santone