BEVERLY — An experimental shuttle service from the Beverly train depot averaged about nine riders per day over its first month, but organizers said ridership continues to grow.
The service, called the North Shore Wave, takes workers between the depot and businesses located at Cummings Center, Trask Lane and Cherry Hill Drive in Beverly and Danvers.
The shuttle had a total of 257 passenger trips over the first 28 days of operation since it began on May 20, according to the North Shore Transportation Management Association, which manages the service.
That averages out to about nine riders per day on the 30-seat bus. But Andrea Leary, executive director of the North Shore TMA, noted that the average number of daily passengers went from four in May to 11 in June.
"That's almost triple by the end of June, so we're heading in the right direction," Leary said. "We're really optimistic."
The shuttle was launched after a study of transportation needs on the North Shore identified a gap between the train station and businesses. The North Shore TMA, a nonprofit that addresses transportation issues in Beverly, Danvers, Lynn, Peabody and Salem, received a $110,000 state grant to start the service.
The shuttle runs six times per day to the three locations, three times in the morning and three in the afternoon. The companies that use the shuttle — American Renal Associates, Axcelis Technologies, Cell Signaling Technology, and Cummings Center — contribute to the cost of the service, as do the city of Beverly and the town of Danvers. The shuttle costs nothing for riders.
Elias Witman, the sustainability coordinator for Cell Signaling Technology, said "a handful" of the company's employees are using the shuttle, including some summer interns.
Witman said the availability of the shuttle convinced one person to accept a full-time job at Cell Signaling, which is located off Route 128 on Trask Lane on the Beverly-Danvers line.
"A lot of people in their early 20s who live in Boston don't own cars," he said. "To be able to recruit young scientific talent from the Greater Boston area, they need transportation options that are flexible."
Antonio Valencia, a senior scientist at Cell Signaling, said he was the only person on the shuttle at the very beginning but it's now often half full. He lives near North Station in Boston and takes the train to Beverly. He used to take an Uber from the train station to Cell Signaling, but now relies on the shuttle.
"I like it a lot," he said. "Even though it takes a little bit of time, I think it's worth it."
Garima Narula, an intern at Sensitech in Cummings Center, said the shuttle is saving her money that she would otherwise spend on Uber. She also likes the online feature that tracks the shuttle's arrival.
Narula said she would like to see more frequent trips, so that she could have the option of coming to work earlier.
Steve Drohosky, general manager of the Cummings Center, estimated that between five and 10 employees at the office park are using the North Shore Wave on a regular basis. He said the company will contribute $50,000 to the cost of the service over two years.
"We hope to see the shuttle take off and provide a valuable 'last-mile-link' to our campus in Beverly," Drohosky said.
Leary said the shuttle service is still in a "soft launch" phase and will be promoted more heavily starting next month. She said the agency is looking for more funding partners so the shuttle can operate for two years to determine if it should be continued or expanded.
"The goal would be to eventually provide that kind of connectivity with Salem and into Peabody, to start to make this a little bit of a regional situation," she said. "We'd like to expand options to live and work in our community and be car-free or car-light. For me, that's the ultimate goal."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.