FOXBORO — There aren’t many National Football League fans in Sweden, but Emrik Wiktorell is one of them.
And lucky for him his vacation in Boston with his father came at the same time the MBTA had expanded commuter rail service to Gillette Stadium.
He and the father, Nicholas Wiktorell, were among the first to take the train from Boston to Foxboro on Monday, the day the MBTA initiated the service. They went to visit the Patriots Hall of Fame.
“It was an easy way to get here,” Nicholas said just after disembarking the train in the back of the stadium parking lot.
The father and son admitted they were rarities in Sweden, being fans of American football.
“It’s not that big of a sport, but people know about the Patriots. They know Tom Brady,” Emrik said.
The Wiktorells are one of many types of riders the MBTA is targeting as local officials hope better transportation to Gillette, Patriot Place, Plainridge Park Casino, and Xfinity Center will help make the area a tourist destination.
Workers who want to make the reverse commute from the Boston area to Foxboro are another target group, along with the traditional suburbs-to-Boston rider.
The MBTA kicked off the first day of Foxboro service with Patriots cheerleaders, the Patriots’ mascot Pat, and free Dunkin Donuts coffee.
The launch came after an extensive advertising campaign and media coverage.
Still, ridership was low on the first day.
Jody Gallery, a field manager for the MBTA, said she counted eight people on the first train to Boston, which left at 5:47 a.m. Ridership jumped to 37 on the 7:29 a.m. commute and went back down to six on the 10:27.
A spokesman for the MBTA said there are no ridership projections for the first week of service.
While the new service, with its 500 parking spaces, creates another option for commuters who work in Boston, officials started the 11-month pilot program to also see if people would travel the other way to jobs and entertainment options in the Foxboro area.
Gallery said she saw a few employees dressed in medical scrub outfits get off an early train for their jobs at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital facility next to the stadium at Patriot Place.
Fares going the opposite way of rush hour traffic are half-price.
There is also an app called transloc.com/app to arrange for rides from the station to popular donations via GATRA vans.
The vans will go to locations inside Patriot Place, such as Trader Joe’s, and outside the property, such as Plainridge Park Casino and the Foxboro YMCA.
Karen Dumaine, director of the Neponset Valley Transportation Management Association, said she believes the train service will eventually be a big benefit for the area, supporting jobs and reducing congestion on highways.
Casey DeSario and Stephanie Chaplin said they believe more employees at Patriot Place might use the train in time.
They work at Patriot Place but live in the Attleboro so they cannot take the train to Foxboro. Chaplin said some co-workers who live in the Boston area were talking about giving it a try.
Bill and Roberta Seabrook of Foxboro said they think the train service will also be a convenience for local people.
He used to commute to a job in Cambridge and often there were no parking spaces available at the Sharon train station, so he would have to drive to Norwood to catch commuter rail.
He also has to go to Tufts Medical Center in Boston for appointments, so they will be able to use the Foxboro station then.
“I’m somewhat surprised they did this because we’ve been waiting for it a long, long time,” he said.
They said even though ridership was low Monday, they believe it will pick up with time.
Foxboro residents have wanted their own train station for years, but it never happened until Patriots owner Robert Kraft asked for it, they said.
“After all,” Roberta said, “we live in Kraftville.”