GRAFTON, Mass. — Advancements and plans for the now state-owned commuter rail system were detailed Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and MassDOT CEO Richard Davey in a talk at the Tufts campus in Grafton.
"Our investments in rail, and kind of a holistic approach in transportation, is really centered on one issue, which is job creation," Murray said. Promoting the economic development of Tufts' Cummings School is a prime example of that, he said.
The advancements, including expanded train service for the Metro West area and express service from Worcester to Boston, is planned to include 20 daily round trips by the end of next year.
The service will benefit students, employees and research associates, said Joe McManus, executive associate dean at the Cummings School of Medicine. The school is Grafton's second-largest employer and is located around the corner from the Grafton station.
"It's a great opportunity for students and faculty to go between campuses," McManus said. "We're grateful for the support to upgrade the quality and the frequency of the train service."
The commuter line has also become the first in the nation to integrate mobile ticketing to its trains, and Davey said work is being done to eliminate the issues that slow transit. He highlighted the Natick stop, which he jokingly said floods whenever "someone drops a water bottle."
He said transit time will be decreased, benefitting the 4 million people who use the train per year.
"Owning it and dispatching it allows us to be much more flexible," he said, adding that track upgrades will also be made.
With the increase in traffic, the issue of overcrowded parking lots at commuter stations will emerge. Plans are in the works for bus service to and from the station, said Westborough Town Manager and Grafton resident Jim Malloy.
"We think that train service is going to go up substantially, and the parking lot [at Westborough's station] is almost fully utilized," he said. "As the number of trains coming out to the Metro West area increases, the parking lots are going to reach capacity awfully quick."
Plans are being considered to reduce traffic, including a bike system, Murray said.
"There's still significant capacity," he said. "We're still thinking about what could be in the future as well."