Wellesley transportation group urges town to get on the bus

Wellesley’s Public Transportation Working Group has issued a report that recommends the town join the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority, a federally and state-funded outfit based in Framingham that orchestrates public transportation needs via buses.

The working group, formed in June of 2010 and comprising representatives from the board of selectmen and other town officials, was tasked with reviewing current transportation options in town and recommending where to go down the road in the interest of containing traffic, addressing environmental concerns and serving the public need. A proposed fixed-route bus service would have the benefit of limited upfront costs and would entail a possible 10.3-mile loop accessible to more than a third of the town’s population via 5-minute walk or less (there’s a map in the report). There’s also a proposed route connecting communities across Weston Road. Among the pluses this overall system could have would be access to the MBTA’s green line, a solid option for those (like us) who find the commuter rail pretty useless for nighttime and weekend service given its infrequent stops.

The group’s proposal is not without complications that need to be addressed, including the divvying up of funds using for MBTA service and how much control Wellesley would have over the transportation service. But the group felt that the MWRTA would be much more cost efficient, at least near term, than having the town create its own public transportation system.

The report also recommends establishment of a permanent multidisciplinary group to monitor the town’s traffic system and needs going forward.

It wasn’t immediately clear to us from perusing the report how soon the town might get to the point of joining the MWRTA. Though Christopher Ketchen, deputy director of general government for Wellesley, says “joining [MWRTA] requires a vote from the Board of Selectmen.  In the meantime, our group will meet with and solicit feedback from various stakeholder groups.  Based on that feedback, the Selectmen will make a decision to act on the recommendations, or do something else.”

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