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Wellesley to consider weekend, night bus service

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  September 11, 2013 10:00 AM

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Wellesley residents pore over an MWRTA map Tuesday.
After hearing from residents about what they want in a fixed-route bus service, Wellesley officials said Tuesday they would ask local transportation leaders to consider implementing weekend and night service on the new bus that will connect Wellesley to the Green Line.

The new consideration comes after about a half-dozen residents requested weekend service at a forum hosted by Wellesley and the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority, which is providing the bus in a two-year pilot program funded by a state grant.

The Tuesday forum sought to gather public feedback on the new Route 8 shuttle bus that will run from Natick through Wellesley to the MBTA Green Line's Woodland Station in Newton. The bus is slated to start service in October, said Meghan Jop, Wellesley's planning director.

"We will definitely pursue this with the MWRTA," Jop said after the meeting, referring to implementing night and weekend service. "This is a new topic that has not come up."

Ed Carr, MWRTA administrator, previously told the Globe that the shuttle is projected to begin at Natick's community-senior center on East Central Street, and ride through Wellesley from Rte. 135 to Rte. 16, ending at the Green Line's Woodland Station in Newton.

Carr said he expected the bus to run about once every hour from 6:30 a.m. through 7:30 p.m.

However, some residents at the Tuesday forum said they did not see sense in running the bus during off-peak hours, and would prefer to see extended hours during nights and weekends.

"Running the bus on the weekends and evenings will make Wellesley more robust," said one resident at the forum.

Although Jop said she hopes to mull the possibilities over with transportation leaders, she acknowledged the challenge of working within the confines of finite funding. The bus is being introduced by way of a competitive $400,000 federal reverse-commute grant administered through the state's transportation department, but that means local officials have to work with only running the bus for certain hours.

"There are limitations in funding," Jop said. "It puts constraints on our operating hours."

Officials said that a one-way ride on the bus would cost $1.50 for an adult fare -- though that price drops to $1.10 if riders use an MBTA Charlie Card. The fare would also be cut in half for seniors, and dropped to 70 cents for seniors using a Charlie Card.

Specifics on the shuttle's operation will not be finalized until officials gather public feedback from another forum and a MWRTA survey recently posted online. The survey will remain up through Sept. 15, and those who provide information will be entered to win a $25 Charlie Card.

Another forum gathering feedback will be held on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 8:30 a.m. in the Great Hall of Wellesley Town Hall.

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