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Worcester leaders oppose new commuter rail stops

February 16, 2017
Worcester leaders oppose potential new stops on the Heart-to-Hub commuter rail line, which starts and stops at Worcester's Union Station.

Worcester's mayor and city manager are urging the state's transportation secretary to not add new stops on the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line that would lengthen the ride from Boston to Worcester.

Instead, the MBTA should focus more on serving those riding between Boston and Worcester each day, said Mayor Joseph Petty and City Manager Edward Augustus.

"Current Heart-to-Hub scheduled times are not ideal and ridership suffers because of this," they wrote to Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack Thursday, referring to twice-a-day nonstop trains that get riders from Worcester to Boston in just under an hour.

"Worcester needs to have nonstop train service that will accommodate a 9-5 work schedule and deliver passengers to work on time in the morning and home for dinner in the evening," Petty and Augustus said.

The T could add several stops in Framingham and Ashland during evening train runs. The timing of when some trains leave Worcester and get to Boston, and vice versa, could also change slightly.

According to a draft T schedule, those stops would add five minutes, making for a 70-minute ride.

Worcester's Union Station is among the busiest in the commuter rail system for stations at the end of the rail lines.

For example, on an average weekday, nearly 1,500 commuters board a train in Worcester, according to the latest comprehensive MBTA report using 2013 numbers. That trailed Lowell but far exceeded Fitchburg, Haverhill, Newburyport and Forge Park/495 in Franklin.

The entire Framingham/Worcester line had a weekly ridership of more than 16,000, according to another MBTA report. That was roughly the same as the Newburyport/Rockport line, but far trailed the 26,000 average riders on Providence/Stoughton line, which was buoyed by riders in the close-in Boston stops such as Ruggles and Forest Hills.