By Alyssa Sandoval
Through a unique and powerful growing public-private partnership of communities along the Route 3 Corridor from Burlington to Lowell, one of the first initiatives to bear fruit is the formation of the Middlesex 3 Transportation Management Association (TMA). What is a TMA? A TMA is a partnership between businesses and communities. Participants join together to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, and to improve transportation options in a defined region. In this example, the Middlesex 3 TMA membership is available to all business and communities that cover the Middlesex 3 Coalition's boundaries including Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Lexington, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, and Westford.
In addition to ride-matching, emergency ride homes, and other transit related programs, one of the TMA's first major services provided is a new commuter shuttle service (the M3 Shuttle) that will pick up employees at Alewife Station in Cambridge directly to the MITRE Corporation's Campus on Burlington Road in Bedford. From there, it will go to E-Ink to drop employees off at the company's campus in Billerica. Within a quick 30-minute ride, employees are ably transported via private shuttle service (including free wi-fi) to Bedford.
MITRE, a not-for-profit organization that operates research and development centers for the federal government, is offering the shuttle service to its employees starting in December 2014. At the Benefits Fair held at MITRE's campus last week, dozens of employees said they were enthusiastic to see an alternative to driving solo or taking the longer MBTA bus ride with many stops along the way. The company sees even more long-term benefits.
"We hope offering an easier way to get to our Bedford campus from public transportation will enable us to attract potential employees in the Boston area," said Peter Sherlock, MITRE senior vice president and director of Bedford Operations. "We want our workforce to be comprised of the best local talent we can find to help deliver creative, innovative solutions to our government sponsors, now and in the future."
Bedford's Town Manager, Rick Reed, notes that "establishing the TMA with this shuttle service is another significant step towards ensuring the long-term economic vitality of the Middlesex 3 region."
Stephanie Cronin, executive director of Middlesex 3 Coalition, and Alyssa Sandoval, Bedford's Economic Development coordinator, have been actively promoting the service to businesses in the Crosby Drive Business District in Bedford. In addition, the goal is that this shuttle serves as a model for other businesses seeking to join on to help solve their employees' commute woes and also to help retain and recruit new employees that live in the more urban locations in and around Boston.
Bedford's growing hub of biotech and tech companies in the Wiggins Avenue Business District adjacent to the nearby Hartwell Avenue Business District in Lexington are also served by the 128 Business Council's Rev Shuttle service in partnership with the Town of Lexington, MA.
The M3 TMA's first shuttle will start from Alewife to Bedford on December 1, 2014.