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CATCH Connect replaces RamTram on weekends

Dylan Pichnarcik / THE GATEPOST

By Adam Harrison

Asst. News Editor

The Student Transportation Center implemented the CATCH Connect program at the beginning of the semester and it is available for student use on weekends from 8 a.m. to 6 a.m.

CATCH Connect is a free ride service available to students. It is very similar to other services such as Uber, for which a ride is ordered using an app.

To order a ride through the MWRTA catch app, students need a student email to access services for free.

Transportation Services Coordinator Kim Galvani said, “It will take you to locations beyond what our current service gives. So if somebody wanted to go to deep in Natick or deep in Wayland… they would have a way to do it.”

The Student Transportation Center (STC) is also available for dispatch on weekends at certain stops. That information can be found on the STC website, and their social media.

She said if the data shows significant student use of CATCH Connect on the weekend, the Center may also implement the service on weekdays.

She added she will be working over the spring semester and summer with the MWRTA to evaluate the possibility of implementing CATCH Connect into the Center’s weekday schedule.

MWRTA does not offer weekday CATCH Connect services for Framingham and Natick yet, but Galvani said she hopes this is something the two entities can work on.

She said she reached out to the MWRTA regarding data for student usage of CATCH Connect, but it is not available yet.

“It’s run through the MWRTA so I don’t have access to that quite yet. … I’ve asked twice for it already, so hopefully, they get back to me,” she said.

Despite not having access to the data yet, she said, “So far, I’ve talked to a few people who have used it, and they said it’s been great.”

One student Galvani spoke with has a job on Route 30, and used to take the RamTram to a spot where they could walk.

“Now, they can have a shuttle right from here to their actual location where they work. So that’s been positive feedback,” she said.

Before the semester began, Galvani met with orientation leaders, department heads, and students to speak about the program in an effort to raise awareness.

CATCH Connect is on the Framingham State University website, on the STC social media pages, and there is information posted at the transportation desk in the McCarthy Center.

“I believe Meg Nowak sent out an email to the student body as well regarding that with the link to the document that explains how the CATCH Connect works,” she said.

Galvani said the STC will continue to advertise the service when they receive the data from the MWRTA.

She hopes to create more awareness for CATCH Connect during the spring semester, and intends to expand the service hours that CATCH Connect provides by fall 2024.

“Based on all the data, I’m hoping to add more [hours]. The issue is because it’s run by the MWRTA, and they need drivers because there's such a drivers’ shortage right now, so hopefully they can hire more drivers and we can add more times next year,” Galvani said.

The STC is still experiencing a staffing shortage, but throughout the semester has been able to fill some of their positions, Galvani said.

She said, “We’re not at full employment capacity yet, but we’re making do with what we have. We’ve had to make some adjustments [to RamTram service hours] because of that.”

Sophomore Faith Wangui said, “I use CATCH Connect almost every weekend. … It's so easy, honestly, and it’s free for students. You just go up there and you type in where you want to go.”

Freshman Jamie Kuenzel said she ordered a ride close to 6 p.m. when they stopped service, and she was driven to the MWRTA building.

“They brought me to the headquarters because I messed up with the schedule, but then the driver was very nice and brought us back to campus. And I love that it is free,” Kuenzel said.

Framingham residents are also able to use the CATCH Connect program, and some have voiced their opinions in reviews made online.

User Angieblue86 said, “Friendly and convenient: truly appreciate the service you guys provide. Everyone is so friendly and it’s such a convenience to be able to get a ride to work so early in the morning.” They gave the service five stars.

User Emcee2115 said the service is "Incredible: I was visiting for the weekend and just in town for the day. What an incredible program!!! I wish I had one of these in my suburban community with limited public transportation! Thank you for making my trip possible!” They gave the service five stars.



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