The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority, the transportation network in the suburbs just west of Boston, will use a $600,000 grant awarded by the state's Department of Transportation today to expand and connect their system to Worcester's public transportation web.
The grant is part of a state program aimed at developing job access and the reverse commute for people who live in Boston but work in municipalities outside the city's MBTA system.
"It's to create public transportation options for people trying to get to work," said MWRTA Administrator Ed Carr. "We’re extremely pleased that we got the grant. Times are scarce, so this will come in very handy for us."
The MWRTA plans to design a way to hook up to Westborough, not only because it is in the easternmost region of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority and could connect to the line there, but also because Westborough hosts numerous job positions, Carr said.
"Westborough is really becoming a huge economic development hotbed in the MetroWest area - there are jobs out there," Carr said.
Carr said the authority will also use the grant to make connections from the MWRTA to commuter rails in Southborough, Ashland, and Westborough.
Carr said the $600,000 award is one of the largest grants the authority has received from MassDOT since the MWRTA's startup in 2007.
Carr said the MWRTA has used similar grants in the past to expand service to the MBTA's Green Line.
"We found that there were a lot of people coming from the Brookline and Newton area to work in the MetroWest, so that would be a reverse commute option," Carr said. "People couldn’t get the commuter rail in the morning because it didn’t run out here. It starts in Boston but didn’t stop until the MetroWest, so this gives people an option to come out here and work."
A total of 22 applicants received MassDOT awards today totaling more than $5.8 million. These grants, which will be administered for fiscal year 2013 starting July 1, were awarded in a competitive process, and represent the first year federal and state transit funds have been awarded as part of the new single grant application.
The MWRTA received the highest grant from MassDOT for the jobs access and reverse commute category. The North Shore Career Center won the second highest amount at $263,790.
Award recipients include regional transit authorities, private bus companies, and other transportation providers.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org