DEVENS -- Devens officials are gauging the area's transportation needs with a new survey for Devens employees.
The survey could provide hard statistics on transportation needs in and around Devens that might lead to anything from bus shuttle service to carpooling ideas.
The state's Department of Transportation, the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce, MassDevelopment and the Devens Enterprise Commission have all been working on improving transportation in the area, said MassDevelopment spokesman Mark Sternman.
"We are simply interested in exploring with all those groups any efforts to improve transportation options to Devens, and to the residents and businesses who call Devens home," he said.
Among top concerns is a reasonable reverse-commute for those who live in Boston and come out to work along the Fitchburg rail line.
As MassDOT finishes its $277 million Fitchburg line improvement project by 2015, members of the Fitchburg Line Working Group are alerting the state's gubernatorial candidates of the need for earlier and more frequent trains.
Peter Lowitt, land use administrator for the Devens Enterprise Commission and a member of the working group, said the area's economic development is driving the need for such a commute.
Bristol Myers Squibb is trying to attract employees from the Boston area out to Devens, he said. "We need to have those systems in place in order to support our industries. That's the basic underlying rationale, from an economic development perspective, to get that reverse commute going."
Currently, the earliest train from North Station arrives in Littleton at about 9:40 a.m., just beyond the start of the average work day.
The group is calling for operational changes so that the train can arrive at 7 a.m., and is also looking for an increase in the number of trains operating in the afternoon, according to a white paper from Lowitt.
"What we're trying to do is have a train that arrives at a time that can support standard operating hours for businesses," he said.
For trains that do not commute all the way out to Fitchburg, the group is suggesting a final destination of Littleton rather than a terminus in South Acton.
From Littleton, commuters could take a shuttle into Devens -- an idea that might come to fruition if survey users indicate a need for it.
"If you could go one stop further on the line to Littleton, that's much closer to Devens," Sternman said. "So all of a sudden you open up a bunch more convenient shuttle options from Littleton to Devens."
The survey is looking into whether people would use such a service, he said.
Melissa Fetterhoff, president of the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce, said one of the biggest transportation needs is the reverse-commute for businesses.
"The reverse-commute hits our area after most companies' first shifts start," she said. "It's difficult for people to utilize the transportation to get out to work here."
The survey asks Devens employees where they commute from, their arrival and departure times for work and what public transit improvements might encourage them to take the commuter rail more often.
The survey is available online at http://bit.ly/massrides and is open until July 18. Participants will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.