He said he'd hope that if the town signed on for service, there would be at least 800 to 1,200 riders in the first 90 days. Whatever service is agreed to would have to be competitively priced, too.
Mr. McInerney envisioned stops in South Grafton at the Community House, at the Municipal Center, perhaps One Grafton Common, Stop & Shop, CVS, the MBTA station and Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
Another possible route could go to Millbury and the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley.
"I say all this not knowing what people want," he said.
Grafton is assessed around $112,000 for the MBTA, Mr. McInerney said, "so we would leverage that to the RTA and they would provide some service."
Millbury, which has had some WRTA service for years, just added Saturday service to the mall in January. Last year it expanded routes in the center of town.
"The reason they're doing this is ridership is up," said Town Manager Robert J. Spain Jr.
"You get both people that can't afford other forms of transportation or people who like to use public transportation. They can go to work in Worcester and don't have to take a car," he said.
Mr. Spain said Millbury has had a roughly $40,000 assessment for the MBTA, which irked him because the train doesn't stop in Millbury, and a $46,000 assessment for the WRTA.
The governor's proposed fiscal 2014 budget lists a $90,000 assessment for Millbury, all in the WRTA category, according to Mr. Spain.
He said, "Considering we're a suburb town, I think we're getting good service."
The challenge for growing regional transit is whether suburban commuters will be persuaded to give up the ingrained habit and flexibility of driving their cars.
Mr. O'Neil said that with technology that tracks and communicates to riders information about their routes, up-to-date maintenance and cleaning systems and on-board video cameras, riders will be won over by the convenience, safety, reasonable cost and efficiency of transit.
"One thing we want to do is reach out to younger demographics with technology. They can follow (their bus or van) through mobile applications," Mr. O'Neil said.
An iPhone or Android app, as well as the WRTA's website, www.therta.com, gives real-time information on where a vehicle is and how long until the next one arrives at a stop. Riders can sign up for text message or phone alerts about their routes. And on-board trackers count the time and number of people who get on and off at any given stop so service can be adjusted based on demand.
Mr. McInerney said, "It will be baby steps" getting people acclimated to riding buses instead of driving.
But the potential is appealing for getting people to jobs, shopping and recreation without relying on the automotive mainstay of the suburbs.
He said, "It's a piece of the economic puzzle."
Contact Susan Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Twitter @SusanSpencerTG.