By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON -- A new Yawkey commuter rail station and an increase in daily roundtrip train service to and from Worcester laid the foundation for a greeting Monday morning between Gov. Deval Patrick and his former number two.
Former Lt. Gov. Tim Murray of Worcester stepped off the inbound train at 9:15 a.m., gave the governor a smile and a handshake and hailed the increased transportation options for people in the central Massachusetts city, the second largest in New England.
"The 20 roundtrips allow people more options to cross-pollinate around where they can live and work," said Murray, who departed state government to head up the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce last June. There are currently 16 daily Worcester-bound trains and 17 Boston-bound trains.
On weekends, Worcester will also now have nine roundtrips to Boston. The old schedule included five trips to and from Worcester and an additional four trips that stopped or started in Framingham, short of the western end of the line.
Murray and Patrick both discussed the linkage between two cities with strong technology industries and Murray said the now empty freight-yard down the line in Allston frees up an area of Boston for development "that this city has not seen in generations."
Murray's departure left Patrick without an elected liaison to municipal leaders and stuck the governor with presiding over the sometimes contentious Governor's Council, which approves or denies judicial nominations on Wednesdays.
"I miss you every day, especially Wednesday," said Patrick, who expressed disappointment last week when his Superior Court nominee Joseph Berman failed to win confirmation on a 4-4 vote.
The new station along the Massachusetts Turnpike outside Kenmore Square includes a second set of tracks, which allows for the increase in trains. The two platforms replace the concrete slab partially under a bridge and they are somewhat closer to Fenway Park.
Red Sox President Larry Lucchino said the new station is 511 feet from Fenway, and he said the additional transit options from west of Boston and South Station would improve parking around the ball park. Lucchino told the News Service there would be "provisions" for fans to return home by train at the end of a late game, and said the team is working with MassDOT officials on that issue.
Red Sox owner John Henry bought the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette last year, and has had made public his plans to sell the Worcester paper.
"We have a lot of Red Sox fans in Worcester County who loyally get up and read their Telegram & Gazette to understand what's happening, and we hope Mr. Henry takes care of the Telegram in that sale," Murray said, heralding the return of minor league baseball to Worcester with the arrival of the Worcester Bravehearts.
The station is close to Longwood Medical, and Medical Academic and Scientific Community Organization President Marilyn Swartz-Lloyd said more than 100,000 people enter the area every day, including 46,000 employees.
After the event, Murray told the News Service that given his new job he is neutral in the governor's race.
"Part of my job is I'm not political," said Murray, the former mayor of Worcester and a prolific fundraiser for Patrick.
Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said he appreciated a Senate addition to the transportation bond bill (S 2023/ H 3882) doubling fines for fare evasion, though his overriding hope is that both branches agree on a final version so the administration can start in on some construction projects.
"I think we'd prefer for it to get done," Davey said.