FRTA, Marlborough Piloting Transportation Options for Older Adults

Building on a report compiled by MassMobility and the Mass. Healthy Aging Collaborative with a variety of examples of age-friendly transportation from all regions of Massachusetts, more communities are piloting transit solutions for older adults.

Thank to MassMobility for continuing to highlight these initiatives in their newsletter.

Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA):

On October 1, the Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) officially launched FRTA Access, a microtransit pilot offering same-day and next-day shared demand-response trips to the general public in two zones. The first zone serves Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Leyden, Montague, and Whately, and operates Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm. The second zone serves New Salem, Orange, Warwick, and Wendell, and operates Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm.

FRTA is offering the service using available seats on their existing paratransit and demand-response vehicles. When FRTA Access riders request trips, the app checks capacity, given the paratransit and demand-response trips already scheduled. If FRTA’s existing fleet can fit in the trip, the ride is booked. FRTA Access riders ride alongside paratransit and demand-response riders.┬áThe pilot is funded through MassDOT’s Discretionary Grant Program.

This new service offers general public service in areas that previously did not have any public transit, such as Gill, Leyden, New Salem, Warwick, Wendell, and parts of Whately. In addition, riders who already qualified for FRTA’s demand response or paratransit services due to their age, disability, or veteran status can now access same-day and next-day options.

To request an FRTA Access trip, download the FRTA Access app by searching for “FRTA” at the Apple Store or Google Play. When a trip is requested, the app will tell you whether the ride is available or not. A one-way trip costs $5; additional riders can join for $2.50 each.

FRTA Access is the third microtransit pilot to launch in Massachusetts, following NewMo in Newton and GO GATRA in the Mansfield area.

Marlborough:

With funding from the Marlborough City Council and the state budget, Marlborough launched a new municipal shuttle on September 16. During the morning and evening commute hours, the shuttle meets inbound and outbound trains at the Southborough commuter rail stop and connects to a park-and-ride lot and a major employment center in Marlborough, in order to serve commuters commuting into and out of Marlborough.

From 9:30am to 3:30pm, when not in use for commuters, the vehicle is available to the Council on Aging and Marlborough veterans. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to expand our transportation program. The shuttle will be used to enhance some of the programing we have at the Center, such as outings for the men’s group and camera club, shopping trips, or better serving our veterans by helping them get to their appointments at the VA,” explains Trish Pope, Executive Director of the Marlborough Council on Aging and Senior Center.

The idea for the shuttle emerged in 2015, when the Route 128 Business Council conducted a transportation study at the City’s request. The City had been hearing from local employers that “last mile” challenges were a barrier to recruiting and retaining talented workers. The study found that employees were coming not only from Boston but also from Worcester, and that a shuttle between key employment areas and the Southborough train station could reduce mobility barriers.

For the shuttle’s first year, rides are free of charge. Marlborough is asking people interested in riding to register in advance.

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