Framingham is a community which enjoys many resources, all of which present opportunities for Framingham to become the envy of MetroWest. We are a suburban community with a close proximity to Boston and to Worcester, New England’s two largest cities, and with our beautiful parks and open spaces, our well- educated labor force and our resurgent Downtown, we have much of which to be proud. But we can and should do better.
One area upon which we should focus our attention is transportation.
Traffic is, and has long been, a source of frustration and concern.
Like a large portion of the country, Framingham residents are wedded to their cars. While this is, to some extent, cultural, it is also a result of poor utilization and under-utilization of resources. I applaud the Metrowest Regional Transit Authority, which provides public transportation in the area, for its vision and commitment to Framingham with its recent rehabilitation of the so-called “banana lot” in Downtown Framingham. By cleaning up and rehabilitating this area, crime in the immediate vicinity has been reduced by 75%, according to Framingham Police statistics. The lot is convenient and accessible, and adds to the vibrancy of Downtown.
As a member of Framingham Downtown Inc. and the Economic Development and Industrial Commission, I have worked with Ed Carr and the MWRTA to help bring about this change, and I am proud of the results of our efforts. But there is much more to be done.
At present, the MWRTA does not provide significant service to the shopping areas on Route 9. Without access to public transportation, local residents are required to use their cars to get to the malls, which has adverse traffic and environmental ramifications.
It also serves as a limit on economic development in the area. Local residents must have an easy, minimally-polluting way of going shopping.
I applaud Senator Karen Spilka’s support for the MWRTA and for regional transportation generally – without her efforts the MWRTA would not provide the services it provides – but greater state support is crucial to make the MWRTA all it can be for Framingham and for MetroWest.
The insufficiency of regional transportation is not just a Route 9 issue, however.
Our older citizens should be able to access public transportation for tasks as simple, yet crucial, as getting to and from church or temple, getting to and from the Callahan Center, in fact, getting to and from any place in Framingham.
For funding reasons, the MWRTA doesn’t even offer service on Sundays.
Many of our seniors do not have their own cars, and must currently depend on friends and relatives for transportation. We owe our elders more than this. We owe them efficient, reliable and convenient public transportation.
At present, in the City of Boston, as an example, if you miss a bus connection, the scheduled wait for the next bus is about 7 minutes.
In Framingham that wait time is an hour.
This makes the MWRTA an unlikely transportation choice, but especially so in cold or wet weather.
If we, as a community, are to take advantage of the many opportunities and resources Framingham provides, we need to make those opportunities and resources available through safe, clean and reliable transportation. If the wait time could be reduced to even a ½ hour, the impact would be tremendous. As it is, these opportunities and resources are being squandered as a result the woeful underfunding of the MWRTA.
I want to be your representative in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, serving the 6 th Middlesex District.
If I am elected, I pledge to take my experience working with the MWRTA on transportation issues with me to the State House, and to make certain that the MWRTA receives the funding required to make Framingham’s public transportation system worthy of the wonderful community in which it operates.
Michael G. Gatlin
State Representative 6th Middlesex District