QVCDC and Ware launch Route 9 transit service

July 11, 2022 | Lauren LeBel

WARE – The Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation (QVCDC) and the town of Ware recently launched the Route 9 Shuttle, a transit service that travels from Belchertown to Spencer with several stops in the Quaboag Valley.

The Rt. 9 Shuttle is an expansion of the Quaboag Connector, which is headquartered in Ware. Jen Healy, rural transit program manager, said the connector launched in 2017. In January of that year, Healy estimated that 30 people utilized this service. Now, she said they transport over 1,000 people each month.

The Quaboag Connector originally served Ware, Monson, Palmer, Warren, a few of the Brookfields and more recently North Brookfield. Healy said they are hoping to include Holland and Wales in the future.

The popularity and enjoyment of this method of transportation stems from its affordability, noted Healy. For only $2, people can ride the Quaboag Connector to their desired destination.

Due to its successes, Healy said they began seeking out other routes. She explained that they applied for and received a Synergy Grant through the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts in Worcester. This is a five-year grant. In the first year, Healy said they went through a process called “design thinking” that included interviews and focus groups with people in the community.

Based on the public’s feedback, Healy said many seemed to “love” the Quaboag Connector, but other people wanted something more flexible. Healy shared this is because the connector requires a predetermined ride, compared to that of a bus service.

To provide a more flexible schedule and serve the community on a wider scale, Healy said they turned their attention to Rt. 9. “Belchertown to Spencer – that stretch of Rt. 9 is not really served,” she shared. “[There is] a statewide gap.”

In mid-June, the QVCDC and the town of Ware hosted an event to announce the launch of the new Rt. 9 Shuttle. Running through six towns – Belchertown, Ware, Brookfield, East Brookfield, West Brookfield and Spencer – the cost to ride is only $1. Healy said individuals pay when they get on the shuttle. As of now, they don’t have any ways of accepting online payments.

The Rt. 9 Shuttle currently runs on Saturday’s from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. As they continue to work out details, Healy said they will begin offering weekday rides.

The list of designated stops along the way can be found on their website at This includes shopping centers, town commons, grocery stores, a few Councils on Aging, healthcare providers and more. Healy said the stops were determined based on common necessities.

“It’s a transit service people can really use,” added Healy.

She explained, “The Rt. 9 Shuttle works like a public bus.” Once it drops someone off at a location, the shuttle continues. When someone needs to be picked up, they can check the schedule for the next shuttle coming through. The schedule can also be found on the QVCDC website.

Currently, the QVCDC is working with the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) to see if people are interested in taking the WRTA further up the state. Healy explained that riders would take Rt. 9 to East Brookfield or Spencer, near the WRTA, to go to Worcester, Boston or beyond. While the Quaboag Connector “connects locally,” the hopes of the Rt. 9 Shuttle are to connect on a statewide level, said Healy.

The Rt. 9 Shuttle fixed route and location maps can be found online at If folks have questions or would like to provide feedback, Healy noted that it can also be done through this site.

As the Quaboag Connector primarily serves those with disabilities, low-income individuals and seniors, Healy hopes the Rt. 9 Shuttle can serve everyone. Although there has not been enough ridership to notice any trends yet, she looks forward to seeing more people utilizing the new service.

“It’s exciting to see and have one more way [to help the community],” said Healy.

She noted that this entire launch has been a collaborative effort including the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, Ware School Systems and more. Since 2020, the Quaboag Connector has received over $1 million in funding from the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.

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