MetroWest Regional Transit Authority
Map of the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) service area in green with the central hub town of Framingham in blue.
|Service area||Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Natick, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, and Weston|
|Service type||Bus, Paratransit|
|Alliance||495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership
MetroWest/495 Transportation Management Association
Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce
MetroWest Chamber of Commerce
MetroWest Growth Management Committee
Transaction Associates, Inc.
|Routes||Eleven bus routes|
|Fleet||Twenty Ford E-Series cutaways|
~645 in February 2008 (Averaged over 18,700 for the month)
The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) is a regional public transit authority in the state of Massachusetts providing bus and paratransit service to eleven communities in the Boston MetroWest. The MWRTA was formed in 2006 and began service on July 1, 2007 with the purpose of filling a void in public transportation service in the MetroWest. Through a commitment to deliver expanded public transportation service to the business and commercial hubs across the MetroWest region, the goals and purpose of the MWRTA are embodied in its mission statement: "Build a public transportation system to deliver convenient and dependable service that enhances mobility, environmental quality and economic vitality in the region." Funding for the MWRTA comes partially from the state and local governments of the communities it operates within.
The eleven member communities of the MWRTA currently receive varying levels of service: Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Natick, and Southborough receive fixed-route bus spread over ten routes and paratransit service while Sherborn, Sudbury, Wayland, and Weston receive only paratransit service.
Paratransit service is a flexible passenger transportation service which does not follow fixed routes or schedules. According to ADA requirements, the MWRTA must provide paratransit service as a curb-to-curb service to eligible residents having a physical, cognitive, or mental disability within a 3/4 mile radius of a fixed route regular bus service. In addition, MWRTA paratransit service is also provided to eligible residents within any of its eleven member communities. All MWRTA buses are equipped with lift systems to accommodate the physically handicapped along their regular fixed routes. The MWRTA also provides paratransit service to MWRTA service area border towns at an increased fare. The paratransit service is provided in the form of a call-ahead multi-passenger shuttle allowing disabled residents of MWRTA communities to be picked up at their houses and shuttled to any other location within or bordering the MWRTA service region, such as other residences, grocery stores, hospitals, or job sites.
Prior to the creation of the MWRTA, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) provided part of its paratransit service, called The RIDE (see MBTA accessibility) to the two communities of Framingham and Natick within the current MWRTA service area. The MBTA continue to provide The RIDE to Framingham and Natick until 2009 under contractual obligations. On July 1, 2009, administration of paratransit service to Framingham and Natick switched from the MBTA to MWRTA in alignment with the change in assessments paid to the MWRTA by those communities rather than to the MBTA.
The MWRTA provides eleven fixed bus routes across a service region including seven of its member communities. The fleet consists of twenty Ford E-Series cutaway-based 18-passenger buses. All buses contain lift systems capable of carrying up to 800 pounds for physically disabled passengers.
Displayed below is the MWRTA route listing. Following each route entry is a listing of points of interest which can be reached along the route. All routes start and end at the central hub in Framingham except for Route 9.
|Route||Destinations of Interest|
|Route 1 - Green Line Shuttle||Staples Drive, MathWorks, Woodland Green Line T Stop, 9/27 Plaza, Natick Collection, and Flutie Pass|
|Route 2 - Framingham Circuit (clockwise)||Downtown Framingham to Saxonville, Nobscot, MetroWest Medical Center, and the Natick Collection mall area|
|Route 3 - Framingham Circuit (counter clockwise)||Downtown Framingham to Saxonville, Nobscot, MetroWest Medical Center, and the Natick Collection mall area (Route 2 counter clockwise)|
|Route 4 - Market Basket / Beaver Park / Natick Mall||Downtown Framingham, to Market Basket, Beaver Park, Shoppers World, Sherwood Plaza, and the Natick Collection mall area|
|Route 5 - Hopkinton Line||Downtown Hopkinton via Ashland to the Framingham Commuter Rail Station|
|Route 6 - Milford Line||Downtown Milford via Holliston and Ashland to the Framingham Commuter Rail station|
|Route 7 - Marlborough Line||Downtown Marlborough via Southborough and Solomon Pond Mall|
|Route 9 - Route 9||Various stops along Massachusetts Route 9 from Western Framingham to the Natick Collection mall area|
|Route 10 - Natick Daily Route||Natick Commuter Rail Stations, downtown Natick, and the Natick Collection mall area|
|Route 11 - Natick Mid-Day||Natick Commuter Rail Stations, downtown Natick, and the Natick Collection mall area (Route 10 counter-clockwise)|
|Natick Commuter Shuttle||Both Natick Commuter Rail stations and areas around Natick|
The MWRTA partnership with GeoGraphics Lab provides live-updates of bus locations via an online map service. The service displays current bus locations on a map with the use of bus-mounted GPS devices. The map service also allows the individual bus routes to be displayed overlaying the map.
Passes may be purchased in single or ten-ride quantities. Fare costs are as follows:
|Age Group||Single||Single with CharlieCard||Woodland||Woodland with CharlieCard||Ten-Ride Pass|
|Students with ID or under age 18||$1.00||N/A||$2.00||N/A||$9.00|
|Elderly age 65 or disabled showing appropriate ID||$0.75||$0.70||$1.50||$1.40||$7.00|
|Children under age six accompanied by a paying adult||free|
Transfers are provided free of charge between buses with the use of a transfer coupon or CharlieCard. Transfer coupons must be requested from the driver of the bus upon exiting the bus and displayed to the driver of the bus to be transferred to upon entry. The transfer coupon (or stored transfer in the case of a Charlie Card) must be used within 30 minutes of receipt.
In November 2010, the MWRTA started accepting fares electronically via the MBTA CharlieCard. Stored Value CharlieCard users are offered a discounted local fare of $1.10 (or a Woodland fare of $2.20). Senior/Disabled passengers are also offered a discounted fare when using the appropriate Senior/Disabled CharlieCards.
10 ride passes are in the process of being phased out in favor of CharlieCards.
The birth of the MWRTA
In 2006, an Economic Stimulus Bill passed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts included legislation pushed by Karen Spilka and other MetroWest area legislators. The legislation opened the possibility of a new Regional Transit Authority to be formed in the MetroWest region. The legislation states that any community providing an annual assessment to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) but not served directly by the MBTA may form their own Regional Transit Authority (RTA) using that funding instead.
Under the advisement of the legislation, the MWRTA was created in Framingham with the neighboring communities of Holliston, Hopkinton, Natick, Ashland, and Wayland. At the time, Framingham had its own community bus system called The LIFT (Local Inter Framingham Transit).The newly formed MWRTA was based on The LIFT. With this system, the communities of the MWRTA would have a basis for their new RTA.
Natick neighborhood bus system
As part of the growth of the MWRTA and due to Natick joining the system, Natick's own Neighborhood Bus system was incorporated into the MWRTA in the summer of 2008. Rates rose from $1 to $1.50 for adults with the rate hike justified as allowing residents of Natick to move anywhere in the system, as far out as Marlborough. The incorporation of this system created a link of service from Natick to Marlborough across two routes spanning more than 25 miles combined.
The RIDE is a paratransit service provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to regions of the Greater Boston Area. Prior to the creation of the MWRTA, the MBTA provided paratransit service to the MWRTA member communities of Framingham and Natick through The RIDE. Due to the formation of the MWRTA as a new Regional Transit Authority (RTA) within the MetroWest, annual assessments can now be funneled toward the MWRTA rather than the MBTA. Administration of paratransit service to Framingham and Natick switched from the MBTA to the MWRTA on July 1, 2009.
MBTA Green Line shuttle
Green Line shuttle service is targeted at commuters traveling to work in the Metrowest from Boston. It poses an alternative to the MBTA Commuter Rail Framingham/Worcester Line which focuses more on Boston inbound traffic during the morning hours, and outbound traffic from Boston to Framingham during the evening hours. Consequently, the commuter rail provides less frequent service in the opposite direction during those respective times. The Green Line shuttle instead links the MWRTA bus system with the MBTA subway system and provides service every twenty-five minutes during morning and evening commute hours.
Within the service region
The MWRTA is discussing[when?] expansion of bus service within its service region particularly to the four communities which receive only paratransit service. In particular, Sherborn is a member community of the MWRTA, but does not receive fixed route bus service. Prior to the creation of the MWRTA, Sherborn paid annual assessments to the MBTA although it did not receive public transportation service. Since joining the MWRTA, selectmen conducted surveys through mass mailings to the residents of Sherborn, and responses were mostly positive toward creating a bus route between downtown Sherborn and a Natick commuter-rail station.
Milford and Hudson
The MWRTA advisory board discussed the idea of Milford and Hudson joining the MWRTA. However, neither is seen to join due to fiscal constraints in both communities. Neither community pays local assessments to the MBTA. Thus, unlike the other member communities, funding could not be diverted from the MBTA to the MWRTA; they would need to make additional budgetary allotments to become members of the MWRTA.
Other possible additons include:
- "Editorial: Mass transit on a roll in MetroWest". The Milford Daily News. June 13, 2008. Retrieved October 9, 2008.[dead link]
- "About MWRTA". MetroWest Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
- "MWRTA FAQ". MetroWest Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
- "MWRTA Routes & Schedules". MetroWest Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
- "MetroWest Regional Transit Authority". MetroWest Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved October 8, 2008.[broken citation]
- "MWRTA Senior & Disabled Transportation". MetroWest Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
- Andrew J. Manuse (December 2, 2007). "Roads & Rails: MetroWest RTA takes over this week". The MetroWest Daily News. Retrieved October 9, 2008.
- Real-time MWRTA bus tracking service GeoGraphics Laboratory
- "MWRTA Rates & Passes". MetroWest Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
- Jennifer Kavanaugh. (June 25, 2006). "MBTA may no longer be the only game in town". The Milford Daily News.
- Matthew G. Feher (June 23, 2006). "Legislature sends nearly $1B in new spending to governor". Massachusetts Municipal Association.
- John C. Drake (June 28, 2007). "Regional transit authority sets its wheels in motion". The Boston Globe.
- Charlie Breitrose. (June 28, 2008). "Natick bus to join MWRTA system". The MetroWest Daily News.
- Anna Fiorentino (August 14, 2008). "Connection to MBTA on the way". The Boston Globe.
- "MWRTA Schedules & Maps". MetroWest Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
- "MetroWest Regional Transit Authority - Advisory Board Meeting Minutes". April 14, 2008.
- MetroWest Regional Transit Authority Website
- GeoGraphics Lab MetroWest
- YouTube - MWRTA new buses
- The RIDE