WBUR

Rushing Home To Worcester, Commuters Plead For More Trains

WORCESTER, Mass. — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot6DgtlN-rM

In the last car of the last rush-hour train from Boston to Worcester, the car is a time capsule of early 21st century Massachusetts: hospital workers, students, employees of financial firms and technology companies. People recognize one another.

Joel Gerard says more trains would make his life easier.

“I have to leave Westborough at 5:59 (a.m.) to get in for 7:15, 7:30,” Gerard says, “so if there were more options, it would be nice. I wouldn’t have to get up so early. I have to be in at 8:00, but the next train gets in at 7:46, something like that, so it’s cutting it a little bit close. I don’t like to be late, so we get up early, take the early train in.”

Gerard just got a job with an insurance broker in the financial district. He would not have been able to take the job if not for the train. His wife needs their one car to get to work.

“There is public transportation in Worcester, but really, there is not, because no one takes it — no one knows even how to find a schedule.”
– Terry Swallow, Westborough

Rabab Fayyaz is settling in, in the very back of the car. She just got a job at one of the hospitals in Boston. She’s headed home to Southborough.

Fayyaz likes to pass the time with the same group of people every day. It helps to deal with the inconveniences of riding the rails to Worcester. She too wants to see an expansion of train service.

“I mean, sometimes you get short-carred. Instead of having five cars, we’ll have four cars. So we get a little cramped, get a little cozy, a little personal, but you know, it’s all in good fun. We have a nice little community,” she says.

Could More Trains Mean More Jobs?

Prat Vemana, who works for IC Sciences, a medical information company in Boston, says his company’s research leads him to believe that more weekday trains could get a lot more unemployed Massachusetts residents to jobs.

“Most of the folks who are looking for jobs are in the 495 belt, in this area. Most of the open jobs are in Boston, actually. Technology jobs are definitely in Boston and Cambridge. So from that perspective, the impact will be pretty good, doubling the trains,” Vemana says.

Terry Swallow is headed home to Westborough from her new job at Gobi, a British maker of touch screens. She agrees that if the trains are going to benefit Worcester, Worcester needs to add more public transportation.

“There is public transportation in Worcester, but really, there is not, because no one takes it, no one knows even how to find a schedule — no one knows where the bus might be, if there is a schedule or if it just goes willy-nilly, like so many things in Worcester tend to happen,” Swallow says.

Hardly anyone goes all the way to Worcester. Swallow says that’s because on top of a lack of public transportation on that end, there isn’t enough parking.

“Online, I think it says that there is access to another lot that I think is the old Worcester Fashion Outlets parking lot,” Swallow says, “but I think that’s kind of a hike.”

One hour and nine minutes after leaving South Station in Boston, the train pulls into Union Station in Worcester.

But back in Boston, woe to those who missed the 6:15 p.m. train. A forlorn Joe Schwab  is one of them. He gets on his phone to tell his wife in Shrewsbury he’ll be late.

“It means I’ll get home about an hour-and-a-half later. It means I don’t get to have dinner with my wife and kids,” Schwab says.

Right about now, Schwab and others in his situation would like to see more trains going out to Worcester.

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  • Allyson

    Worcester has a lot of potential- I was one of many professionals who lived there for access to the outdoors — kayaking, hiking, proximity to VT and the Berkshires, etc. But commuting to Boston on the train was a nightmare. The trains are consistently late, the conductors rarely announce the stops, and if you work a little late and take the 7:15PM or later train, you’re squeezed into 2 cars, even though the train has 5 or more cars. The conductors will tell you they need to open only 2 cars in order to see when people enter/exit the train. But often, you never see the conductors after the train leaves back bay. I swear they are playing a card game in one of the empty cars. Moreover, even on the rush hour trains, they rarely open all of the doors at the stops, so passengers are bottlenecked into a couple of cars. It is outrageous. Eventually, the train service drove me — and a lot of other professionals like me who work in Boston and were happy to bring our dollars home to Worcester — out of Worcester. The Peter Pan bus service was excellent, but that was cut back in 2008 to subsidize the train service – go figure!

  • Kathleen Maxwell

    I have been commuting daily from Framingham to Boston for the past two years. Sometimes it seems that the MBTA goes out of its way to make things more difficult for the passengers. For example, during non-rush hours there are only a couple of cars open. While I understand that they need to accomodate certain groups by having a car at the platform it means a long trip from the parking lot to the that end of the train. Part of the walkway is unpaved, the elevators often do not work, one of the bike racks is falling apart, etc. Also I take the night train that stops at Yawkey. My gripe is that I often have to wait for the Red Sox game to end which can be up to at least 20 minutes. Many of these passengers seem to be going to Worcester. Often the fans are drunk and rowdy making for an unpleasant ride. At times the train has been delayed while one of these fans is removed by the local police. I don’t understand why there isn’t a special train for Red Sox games (like the Patriots games). As a regular commuter who pays a lot of money I feel the MBTA is catering to the one time rider rather than the daily commuter.

  • Kathleen Maxwell

    Whoops, I just reread my email. I don’t mean to imply that Worcester Red Sox fans are the only ones who are drunk and rowdy. I do want to commend the conductors who have to deal with that behavior.

  • http://worcesterwonderland.blogspot.com/ will. w. w.

    Looks like WBUR left quite a few stones unturned. However Allison has actually hit the nail n the head. That’s why I drive the Pike.

  • Joeleo

    Allyson has indeed covered just about every pertinent complaint regarding the mbta framingham/worcester line. The one thing she left out is the cost – to have a monthly commuter rail pass roughly equals the price of a new car payment if you have good credit. $250/month. It is not cost-effective, or time-effective. Independent, productive Americans who value their time will drive to work, rather than be victim to the daily struggle that is the mbta. Some days its ok, but 3 out of 5 days I would classify as a “struggle”.

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