Rushing Home To Worcester, Commuters Plead For More Trains

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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.

This program aired on September 21, 2010.

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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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