FRAMINGHAM – MetroWest Regional Transit Authority Administrator Ed Carr said the MWRTA is studying expanding its service to Sundays. It is his goal to role it out in Framingham & Natick, and possibly Marlborough in 2021.
Carr recently spoke about his Sunday plans with the Framingham Strategic Initiatives & Financial Oversight Committee, and spoke with SOURCE about the plan on Monday.
“We are conducting a study now, and it is scheduled to be finished by June 30,2021,” said Carr to SOURCE.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation provided $75,000 for the study, said MWRTA’s Emily VanDewoestine.
The MWRTA is working with the Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) to conduct a study, she added.
“We do not, and have never provided Sunday Service on Fixed Route,” said VanDewoestine. “It is something that has been requested by riders for many years, and we would like to find funding to pilot Sunday service in the future, however we want to make sure we do it in a way that is effectively serving our riders.”
“Adding Sunday service is not as simple as putting out a route, and hoping people will use it,” said Carr. “That is why the study is needed.”
Central Transportation Planning Staff will conduct the study to determine the areas where Sunday service is most needed/requested, what hours, what routes may look like, etc, explained VanDewoestine.
“We are in the very early stages of this process now,” she added.
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At this time, the cost of the Sunday service is unknown. The study will help identify the need and the cost.
“Given the pandemic and the budget issues with the state, maybe I’m just dreaming, but I an looking to start it in a year,” said Carr.
“If there is a demand, we will find the money to create the service. – possible grants available,” said Carr.
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Carr said that there are many MetroWest residents dependent on the MWRTA as they are either without a vehicle or have a disability and can not try a vehicle. He said it is important to provide them with the routes they need, and Sunday is one of them.
MetroWest Regional Transit Authority was formed in 2006 by the state legislature to help serve the public transportation needs of the 32-town corridor known as the I-495/MetroWest corridor.
MWRTA is responsible for fixed bus routes and para-transit routes, which mimic the normal bus routes, but provide a smaller bus with lift capability for the disabled and physically challenged individual. Para-transit transportation is a shared ride, origin to destination service required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The MWRTA averages about 36,000 riders per month, pre-COVID.
In June, the ridership had begun to return and was at about 10,000 riders per month.
MWRTA is governed by an advisory board of representatives from the communities it serves with one representative from the disabled community.