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Framingham/Worcester Line Legislators Seek Service Improvements

by Press Release
April 12, 2019

Recently, Representative Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston) joined her colleagues in the Worcester Line Working Group to submit a formal request for service improvements to the Framingham/Worcester Line of the Commuter Rail system. These requests offer concrete proposals to address concerns raised by local commuters about the quality and reliability of service on the high-ridership line.

The Worcester Line Working Group was first convened in 2016 and was initially tasked with updating the train schedules to better accommodate regional travel patterns. Working Group meetings are hosted by the MBTA and members include legislators, local and regional stakeholders, and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. Due to the need for a broader conversation around service on the Framingham/Worcester Line, the Working Group expanded its scope and has continued to meet periodically to identify additional areas where improvements are necessary.

The legislative delegation in the working group consists of Rep. Dykema , Rep. Alice Peisch of Wellesley, Rep. Hannah Kane of Shrewsbury, Rep. Danielle Gregoire of Marlborough, Rep. James O’Day of West Boylston, and Rep. Michael Moran of Brighton. Together, the legislators drafted a letter to Lt. Gov. Polito and MBTA General Manager Steven Poftak detailing potential improvements to the line designed to address the most immediate service needs. These priority requests include modernization of the MBTA’s locomotive and coach inventory, increased fare collection, and station infrastructure improvements including raised platforms and parking expansion.

“Given the unsustainable congestion we see every day on the Mass. Pike, we need to be investing in the Commuter Rail now more than ever,” said Rep. Dykema. “MetroWest commuters deserve access to quality, reliable service on the Framingham/Worcester Line instead of having to pay higher prices for more delays.”

The Framingham/Worcester Line ranks 2nd among the 14 Commuter Rail lines in ridership, but only 10th in on-time performance. From 2012 to 2018, ridership on the line has increased by 45 percent, with numbers more than doubling at certain stations. Keolis Commuter Services, the private contractor that currently operates the Commuter Rail, pays compliance penalties to the MBTA when on-time performance falls below 90 percent. In FY18, Keolis paid $8.2 million in fines, its highest annual total to date.

The MBTA is scheduled to raise fares for all services in July, and Commuter Rail riders will see a roughly 6 percent increase. In September 2018, the MBTA raised parking fees at 4 of the 9 lots it operates along the Framingham-Worcester line by 50 percent. The Working Group legislators have advocated for any increased revenue from fees, fines, and fares to be designated specifically for service improvements on impacted lines.

The work of the Worcester Line Working Group to address the system’s immediate needs runs concurrently with the MBTA’s Rail Vision Study, which is tasked with undertaking long-term planning for the Commuter Rail system’s long-term service plan. The MBTA is expected to release its final study recommendations this summer.

 

 

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