Tuesday, September 19, 2017

PVTA: R10 (Westfield/Westfield State University/West Springfield/via Route 20)

Thank goodness for my B23 being 20 minutes early! I was prepared to wait a really long time for the next R10, but thanks to a ridiculously early bus, I had time to both review the Olver Transit Pavilion and catch the previous R10! This is a route that runs every 60 minutes, keep in mind.

The bus at Westfield State University.
I took the bus out to Westfield State University, then after taking a quick picture, we were ready to go. From Scanlon Hall, we headed down Western Ave, going by Westfield State buildings for a little while. After that, it was nice houses, at least until a big cemetery, where we merged onto Court Street.

The cemetery.
There were more houses and a hospital, then we started to pass a few businesses, as well as Westfield City Hall. Court Street started to get a lot wider, but before it gained a full-on median, we turned onto Washington Street. After a church, a police station, an apartment building, and some houses, we turned onto Arnold Street, which took us back around onto Elm Street to serve the Olver Transit Pavilion.

A common in downtown Westfield.
We headed down Elm Street, passing lots of businesses, then we made our way around a modern common (Park Square). After a few businesses, we merged onto Main Street, but we turned off to serve a Stop & Shop. Once that lovely deviation was over, we returned to Main Street, where there were suburban businesses with parking lots.

Case in point...
It was residential, and the houses continued as we turned onto Meadow Street (there's another variation of the R10 that just stays on Main). There was some retail along here, too, as well as the Westfield Food Pantry. We approached another park, where we turned onto Union Ave, going over the Westfield River.

The bridge over the river.
Next, we turned onto Union Street, which was kind of a weird mix of houses, huge industrial buildings, and apartment developments. It got more industrial as we continued, with a few...random fields mixed in too. Of all things, though, there was just a mini-golf course in the middle of it all? Alright, well, we got some woods after that strange sight, then there were some businesses and industries as we turned onto Springfield Road.

Looking down Springfield Road.
We were running alongside a train track, then the road got wider for a Walmart. Oh...and we had to deviate into it. After serving the big box behemoth, we returned to Springfield Road for about 0.2 seconds before yet another deviation. This time, it was on East Mountain Road, which went under the train tracks in a tunnel that wasn't even wide enough for two cars to pass each other, let alone a car and a truck!

Yeah, why don't you go first?
This deviation took us up to Western Mass Hospital and East Mountain View Apartments, the latter of which we looped around in. Next, we came back to Springfield Road, which kept going along those train tracks with the Westfield River on the other side. The road became Westfield Street when we entered West Springfield, and we made a few curves past various types of buildings and over the train tracks.

Another narrow tunnel under the tracks!
There was some retail after the train bridge, but now it was all residential. For a while, we were just going by suburban houses until the intersection with Kings Highway, where we got some businesses. There were more businesses as we continued down Westfield Street, but also a few more houses and apartment developments.

Some power wires bisecting a neighborhood.
Eventually we got a line of retail, then an industrial/apartment development break, then retail again. We turned onto Elm Street, which featured a wide median, then we turned onto Park Ave, which featured a wider median! After that, we turned onto Main Street, running through a mostly residential neighborhood.

Now that's what I call a median!
Businesses started to get more abundant between the houses, and after going under some train tracks, we turned onto Memorial Ave next to a shopping plaza. We went around a rotary, then crossed over Memorial Bridge into Springfield proper. Once there, we turned onto Main Street, and after passing tall buildings, businesses, and offices, we came into Union Station.

The back of the bus.
PVTA Route: PVTA: R10 (Westfield/Westfield State University/West Springfield/via Route 20)

Ridership: The R10 gets heavy student ridership from Westfield State University as well as commuters from Westfield. This all amounts to about 24 passengers per revenue hour.

Pros: This is an important link from Springfield to Westfield, and it's one of two buses that connect the town to the outside world (the other being the B23). The academic year frequencies are pretty good, with service every 20-30 minutes during the rushes and every 60 minutes during the day, on Saturdays, and on Sundays. On school year weekdays, the R10 only goes as far as Westfield Center, while the R10S shuttle runs every half hour from there to the university.

Cons: The summer weekday schedule is pretty weird, with frequencies randomly shifting between every hour and every 45 minutes. Also, this is one of those routes where each trip is defined by a bunch of different letters representing routings and deviations. Do you have an "SWE" trip? Or a "UWE" trip? Or maybe an "SWR" trip? Have fun constantly referring to the bottom of the schedule to find out what these all mean!

Nearby and Noteworthy: Westfield is a decent town center, and this is the best way of getting there. There isn't all that much of note along the route's independent section, though.

Final Verdict: 7/10
Westfield doesn't have many options for transit, so the R10 link is crucial. Since most of its riders are going from Springfield to Westfield, the strange letters on the schedule don't usually matter too much, but it's just such a pain to read. The summer schedule is also just...weird, but at least it makes sense during the school year!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Thanks for all the positive comments and feedback about finishing the bus system. Yesterday the blog got its highest daily viewers - 9,989! So close to 10,000, but that's okay - thank you to everyone for reading and following my adventures!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

195 (Lemuel Shattuck Hospital - Tremont and Park Streets)

When I finished the 171, I was sure I was done. That was it. All the buses complete. Then I saw the anonymous comment (copied verbatim): "You stll need the 195 Shattuck Shelter-Park St. route." "No, I don't!" I thought. "It's not on the website, so it's not in my jurisdiction." But just in case, I decided to check the website. Lo and behold, there it was. Sigh...how's about one more T bus review?

The bus coming to the Shattuck Hospital.
The route starts out at the Pine Street Inn, a homeless rehab center next to the Shattuck Hospital - it uses the 16's stop over there. The only time it comes here is 8:15 AM on weekdays, and 8 AM on weekends. That's it. No return trips. Nothing. This is it!

A field in Franklin Park.
We headed down Circuit Drive, which zoomed its way through Franklin Park. On my side of the bus (the left), it was mostly forest, but the other side had a golf course. Eventually, we turned onto Franklin Park Road, someone hit the stop request, and they got off outside the zoo. Uhhh...I was under the impression that this route has only one stop between Shattuck and Park Street? It was a little weird to be making one here.

A bouncy castle!
We turned onto the wide Blue Hill Ave, then the slightly-less-wide Seaver Street. One side of the road was occupied by Franklin Park, while the other side had various apartments. Eventually the park went away - when this happened, the street became Columbus Ave. After a library and a tall circular apartment building, we came into Egleston Square, where there was lots of retail.

The rocky edge of Franklin Park.
North of Egleston Square, there were various apartments and a few auto shops. We passed Jackson Square Station, but this route is nonstop, so we didn't have to deviate into the busway. The increasingly wide road came right up alongside the Orange Line tracks, while Roxbury Community College was on the other side.

Roxbury Crossing Station.
After Roxbury Crossing, the road became Tremont Street, and we passed the Boston Police Headquarters. It felt really weird to just stay on Tremont Street without serving Ruggles, but again, the 195 is nonstop, so we just kept on truckin'. The street wasn't as wide now, and it was lined with various apartments and businesses.

I've always thought that this gas station feels a little out of place.
The one scheduled stop, Tremont Street @ West Springfield Street, was pretty popular, with a good chunk of the people getting off. The further we went, the more historic (and presumably ritzy) the apartments got. We passed a library, then there was an increase in the amount of businesses on the bottom floors of the brownstones. After going by the Boston Center for the Arts, there were some more recent (i.e. uglier) apartments, then we went over I-90.

Wow, the John Hancock building is shrouded in fog...
We were now on Charles Street South, and it curved past some impossibly narrow side streets lined with apartments and a few little parks. As we entered the Tufts Medical Center area, though, the buildings started to get far taller and newer. At one point, someone requested a stop, and we just...stopped, double-parked with a bunch of cars. At least three people got off at this weird non-MBTA stop.

There's an actual stop, like, 50 feet behind us...
We headed out into greenery next, with the Boston Common to the right and the Public Gardens to the left. We turned onto Beacon Street, continuing our loop around the common, with lovely apartments on the other side. Outside of the Massachusetts State House, we turned onto Park Street, and then we finally made it onto Tremont Street. Okay, now the last route is done!!!

So I guess 1657 is the last bus! Sorry, 1796...
Route: 195 (Lemuel Shattuck Hospital - Tremont and Park Streets)

Ridership: This route is meant to transport discharged homeless people from the Pine Street Inn back into the world, and so that's who the clientele is. Truth be told, I was expecting the ride to be a lot rowdier, but it was totally fine. There were about 15 people in total who rode, which isn't that bad, considering the special function of the route.

Pros: This route is a really nice shuttle for discharged people returning to civilization. Our driver disabled the farebox so they didn't have to pay, and the bus offers a quick ride into downtown. It was right on time, and the one trip schedules perfectly with the discharge time from the Pine Street Inn.

Cons: The one problem with the 195 is that it really should just operate as a drop-off only route at local stops rather than the nonstop thing it does now. It seemed like people wanted to get off at more stops than the ones posted on the website, so having it drop off at local stops would make things more organized.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Hey, if you have the determination to go to the Shattuck Hospital at 8 AM, you can...uh...go downtown, I guess.

Final Verdict: 9/10
We still get to end on a high note! Hooray! So this truly is the last MBTA bus review. I think. I hope. Well, okay, the Silver Line Gateway is opening up in 2018, so stay tuned for that! But yeah...it feels weird to be saying this again so soon, but thanks to everyone for reading and staying with me for over four years! It's been an awesome ride, and it sure ain't over yet.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Thursday, September 14, 2017

171 (Dudley Station - Logan Airport via Andrew Station)

How do I introduce the MBTA bus route that will be this blog's last? I still find it hard to believe that the thing I dedicated my life to for over four and a half years is...over. The last T bus route. This is it. We've been through a lot, everyone, but I think the 171 featured the biggest challenge of all: surviving Dudley Station at 4 AM. Ouch!

1796...the last bus.
How we actually got to Dudley is another story that you'll see at some point in the future, but the point is that our bus left the labyrinthian, sketchy bus station at 4:20 AM. We started out going up Washington Street, but we turned onto Melnea Cass Boulevard outside of a ghostly Silver Line shelter that wouldn't see service for an hour. After a brief one-block run on Melnea Cass, we turned onto Harrison Ave.

Guys, it's Mass Ave! Can't you tell?
There were parking lots for a bit, then we got South End apartments on one side and Boston Medical Center buildings on the other side. Once we turned onto East Concord Street, we went right into the hospital campus, which continued as we turned onto Albany Street. Next, it was Mass Ave, which took us right into the industrial Newmarket area.

Buses at Southampton Garage getting ready to go.
We merged onto Theodore Glynn Way, then onto Southampton Street, which took us past the Southampton MBTA bus garage. This route is very well-used by early morning MBTA employees, and though it was a Saturday morning so there were far less people on board, someone still got off here. After going under the Fairmount Line, we passed the South Bay Center mall (thank God we didn't have to deviate to it) and crossed over I-93.

No trains here for a while!
Next, we headed into the Andrew busway, picking a few people up, then we went north up Dorchester Ave. It was just pure industrial wasteland, although it did include the MBTA's Cabot Yard. Usually this is a big stop, but on this Saturday morning, there were no T employees heading there.

Duh, this is totally Cabot Yard. Can't you tell?
We turned onto A Street, cutting through a neighborhood of Southie, but then we entered the Seaport and there were industrial buildings and parking lots everywhere. Next, we came into Fort Point, and as we went under Summer Street (which had a very fancy colored bridge), there were brick buildings on all sides. When A Street ended, we turned onto Congress Street.

Look, it's the beautiful Boston skyline! Can't you tell?
After that, we turned onto "West Service Road Extension," where it got industrial again. Next, it was South Boston Bypass, which let us sail onto I-90! We zoomed through the Ted Williams Tunnel under Boston Harbor, then came out at Logan Airport.

A tunnel in the airport.
We made our way around into Terminal A, and I'm pleased to report that the 171 uses the Silver Line airport announcements! They sounded awesome over the high-quality Xcelsior speakers. Next, we served Terminal B Stop 1, which got no passengers, but a whole three people got off at Stop 2. I wonder where they were going...

Terminal C.
We made our way to Terminal C next, then it was off to E. Now, the route is supposed to continue on to Airport Station - every schedule around says that it does. However, it would seem that no drivers ever actually do it, and this one was no exception. We were kicked off at Terminal E, so we walked into the empty international terminal. The final trip was complete.

That's it...
Route: 171 (Dudley Station - Logan Airport via Andrew Station)

Ridership: The 171 is technically the "least-used route on the MBTA," but that doesn't mean it doesn't get good ridership. According to the 2014 Blue Book, the route got 36 riders per weekday, 39 per Saturday, and 48 per Sunday. With only two trips per day, that's pretty good! Honestly, though, I think it fluctuates day by day - my ride got about 15 people, but other trips can reportedly be packed.

Pros: This route serves a very specific function, and it does it well. The reason for the 171's existence is to A) bring early-morning airport employees to their jobs, and B) get early-morning MBTA employees to their shifts. There's even the occasional person using this to get to the airport for a flight! It doesn't need to run any times other than when it does (3:50 AM and 4:20 AM).

Cons: The only thing wrong with this route is the claim that it goes to Airport Station when it really doesn't. Who's even going to Airport Station at 4 in the morning? Just take it off the schedule - the bus never actually serves it.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Well, gosh, if you're in Roxbury or Dorchester and you gotta get to the airport really early in the morning...I guess this is the bus for you?

Final Verdict: 9/10
Hooray, we finish the T bus system on a positive note! Yeah, there's really nothing bad to say about the 171 other than its strange, false insistence that it serves Airport Station. I do think the popularity of this route for early-morning employees (as well as its counterpart, the 5:10 117 from Haymarket to the airport) is a clear indication that the Bostonians would benefit from a 24-hour bus system, but that's beside the point. The 171 is an eccentric route...but it's also a great one.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Well, that's it. The last route. It took almost 4 years and 8 months, but we did it. I've had an absolute blast riding the entire T, and ending it with this crazy route was awesome. I want to thank everyone for reading, whether you were there from the start or whether you just found this blog today. You're the reason I've kept doing this and worked so hard to ride all these routes and write all these reviews. Of course, just because I finished the T doesn't mean the blog is over, though. After all, I still have all of my RTA's to get through! Don't worry - you'll still be hearing from me for a long while after this.

Thanks again,
Miles :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

GUEST POST: 72 (Huron Ave - Broadway @ Felton Street)

My girlfriend Zofia has some very strong opinions about the 72 school trip to Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School...

Wanna have a stress free ride to school? Don’t count on the school trip 72 to do that for you. Yes, most days it can get you to school on time but you’ll probably be cutting it close. Well, unless it's a rainy day or there’s snow on the ground then you’re probably just not going to get to school. I rode this bus for about 2 years before realizing that taking the 71/73 would get me to school faster because those actually run. Before we really get into this I should just say one more time it’s a school trip so why do the drivers let the adults on? Let me tell you, that happens way too often and then the adults get all confused and it makes the trip longer because they all want the bus driver to stop and let them off at Harvard.

So this bus starts at the top of Aberdeen Ave, which for me is where Mount Auburn Street is and it’s supposed to leave there at 7:29. Then it gets to the end of Aberdeen Ave. at 7:30 which is where I would wait with a bunch of other students. Would it ever arrive at 7:30? No, sometimes it would get there at 7:50 and, well, school starts at 8:05 so when that happened there was no way of getting to school on time.

We’re high school kids; not all of us are organized and have CharlieCards so many kids would just pay with coins or bills which would take forever, but I can’t judge because, well, I would do that sometimes. I was mostly just annoyed when the driver would make them pay and we were already so late. Although most bus drivers didn’t want to deal with it and they just let people on for free which was really nice.

Once everyone was on we’d turn onto Huron Ave where traffic could be found, and we’d slowly go along but once we’d pass Fresh Pond Parkway, traffic would clear up from then on. So Huron Ave. has been under construction for like the past 40 years...ok, fine probably just 5 years? So all you’d see is construction, which I mean to some they might find it nice but I kinda just didn’t care for it. But that’s besides the point. So then we’d just go along Huron Ave picking up kids and sometimes adults. Then we would turn on Concord Ave and would sometimes pick up kids, but most just got on on Huron Ave.

Depending on the bus driver they would either turn and go towards the Cambridge Common or continue on Garden Street and then go under the tunnel and onto Cambridge Street, where there was always traffic so we’d be stuck there for a while.

The bus is then supposed to turn on Felton Street, and this again depended on the bus driver. Some would let us off at the bottom of Felton Street and others at the top. Some would also just continue on Cambridge Street until they got to our school and let us off there, so that way we didn’t have to walk too much, which was always nice especially in the winter.

Ridership: This will depend on the season. In the fall and spring there won’t be all that many kids since most bike. If it’s winter or a rainy day then the bus can be packed.

Pros: It’s students only and it goes directly to school. I really can’t think of anything else that’s good about this.

Cons: It’s basically never on time. The poor adults, because the bus driver doesn’t tell them it doesn’t go to Harvard. Yeah ok, the adults can read and see it goes to Felton Street but, like, who wants to read what the bus says? That's just too much work right?

Final Verdict: 5/10
Ok, yeah, I may not like this route but it gets the job done. Maybe not in the best way possible, but you know, it gets to me to school on time mostly, but not without cutting it close. Not going to lie, I just really hate this route because I don’t like to have stressful mornings, but you know, it’s convenient for kids to use and it gets them to school without having to walk through Harvard Yard.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

PVTA: Olver Transit Pavilion

Okay, what is it with naming unnecessarily fancy transit centers after John Olver? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure he was a great congressman, but geez! First there was the FRTA's gigantic John Olver Transportation Center, and now we've got the PVTA's smaller (but no less fancy) John Olver Transit Pavilion in Westfield. Alright, then...

The building.
The Transit Pavilion is definitely a smaller affair than the huge FRTA terminal, but just look at that building! It really sticks out in Westfield Center, a place mostly with older brick buildings. Right outside the Pavilion structure, there's a bench, while the other side has a fare machine, bike locks, and a vending machine for bike parts. Wow!

Squeaky clean!
Geez Louise, here we go again. The inside of this thing is impeccable. It's very well-lit, modern, and clean, with lots of benches all around the outer wall. There are also vending machines, a fare machine, and a departure board. A wavy table along the middle of the room features outlets for charging devices.

Huh...alright.
The Pavilion also houses a strange little touch screen thing. It shows bus departures, whatever the heck "CHAMBER" is, and even the Yelp reviews for restaurants and businesses in Westfield. This seems very useful for Westfield's throngs of tourists consisting of approximately no one. There's also a really empty cork board with a few lone schedules in it and a space for retail that wasn't filled when I was here.

The bathroom!
Since this hub is so quiet, Westfield's bathrooms are squeaky-clean! Maybe now that college has started up at Westfield State University, they're far worse, but who knows? There's also a water fountain that additionally fills up water bottles. It had only saved 608 plastic bottles when I went there in July, but I'm sure now it's higher!

The boarding area.
The Transit Pavilion's boarding area isn't much, but it gets the job done. There are benches along the more northerly section, but once you go further down the line, they disappear. There's plenty of seating inside, though, so it doesn't matter all that much. The plaza is clean and modern, and some newly-planted trees and bushes look very nice.

Further down the platform.
PVTA Station: Olver Transit Pavilion

Ridership: Well, when I was here on a Saturday in July, it was practically empty - there were only three or four people in the terminal. Perhaps it gets busier during the school year when there are students from Westfield State University?

Pros: Just like the FRTA's Olver building, the Transit Pavilion is near-perfect. It has lots of amenities, including seating space, wastebaskets with recycling, outlets, bathrooms, vending machines, bike racks, bike vending machines, and weird touch screens!

Cons: ALSO like the FRTA's Olver building, the Transit Pavilion doesn't seem all that...necessary. I mean, even in this video from the first day, it still looks empty! And that was the grand opening!

Nearby and Noteworthy: Downtown Westfield is fine, I guess. There's nothing about it that seems all that interesting to me.

Final Verdict: 9/10
The Olver Transit Pavilion is in the exact same boat as the FRTA's Olver Transit Center. It's beautiful and fancy with many amenities provided, but it just seems like kind of a waste of $3.6 million. Westfield students had been concerned about not knowing when the bus was coming...couldn't transit arrival screens have sufficed? But oh well, what's here is here, and it's certainly a great terminal!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Monday, September 11, 2017

MBTA Bus Roadeo 2017!

Once again, I got the opportunity to attend the MBTA Bus Roadeo! It was basically the same thing as last year's Roadeo, but of course that means I had a blast! Like last year, I was a runner, bringing score sheets up to the scorers, and it was great to be able to help out. Since the proceedings were basically the same as last year, I'll just put up the pictures I took from this year's competition:

Friday, September 8, 2017

448/449 (Marblehead - Downtown Crossing via Paradise Road or Humphrey Street, Lynnway, and Airport)

My very first review was of the 459. My second-to-last MBTA review will be of its counterparts, the 448 and 449. The funny thing is that I took the 449 over a year ago, but I just didn't want to review it until I had the 448 done and I could do both in one post! Well...it's finally time. Let's do this.

There were a few 7's blocking the actual stop...
That's a problematic destination sign! I think it's still like that on that bus...
I'll be documenting the 448 trip primarily, since I took that one, you know, yesterday. I would say the trip started off great: the bus arrived 20 minutes late. Awesome! The driver told us to hurry on, then we accelerated our way bit by bit onto Summer Street. Traffic was far more plentiful than the narrow streets could handle, and it was slow-going.

Downtown streets.
Summer Street got a heck of a lot wider as we crossed Atlantic Ave and the Greenway, then we stopped outside of South Station. We were about to cross over the Summer Street bridge, but at the last second we turned onto Dorchester Ave. Next, we made our way onto the Congress Street Bridge, featuring the Boston Tea Party Museum right in the middle of its span.

Goodbye, Summer Street!
After the Fort Point Channel had been crossed, we entered the neighborhood of the same name. There were lots of brick buildings everywhere, then Congress Street widened and we were surrounded by...parking lots. Yeah, the switch from Fort Point to the Seaport District is a sudden one. We turned onto B Street, then Seaport Boulevard, which went by the World Trade Center.

Crossing Congress Street.
We turned onto D Street, then we went by the Silver Line portal and turned onto Massport Haul Road. This took us around into the I-90 tunnel, although we did come up for air briefly...then it was into the Ted Williams Tunnel. Under the harbor we go!

Heading onto the highway.
We popped out of the tunnel and curved our way around onto Airport Road, passing two bunched and crowded SL1's in the process. Bypassing Terminals A and B, we finally made our way into Terminal C, where someone actually got on! From there, we skipped Terminal E and returned to I-90, which ran up onto an elevated viaduct next to the Blue Line tracks.

Planes!
The highway became Route 1A, but we were only elevated for a little while longer. Eventually we came back down to ground level and the road became McClellan Highway, famous for playing host to the ugliest buildings in America! Woah! From awful billboards to dreary Logan Airport parking lots to run-down industrial wastelands to the most out-of-place Starbucks ever, McClellan Highway has it all.

Oh, and traffic. Did I mention traffic?
We went by a lot of big mysterious vats, then the road went over Winthrop Ave and the Newburyport/Rockport Line tracks. After a long wait in some truly horrific traffic, we arrived at the Bell Circle Rotary. (Aren't rotaries supposed to alleviate congestion??) Here, we merged onto VFW Parkway, which went over the tracks again and past an abandoned building and a really dead-looking shopping plaza.

This diner has seen better days...
There was more traffic at the next rotary, but eventually we were able to weave our way around into Wonderland Station. It had taken us 40 minutes to get this far. Coming from the South Station area, it would only take about 25-30 minutes on the Blue Line. Even from the World Trade Center, it would still take about the same amount of time as us, 40 minutes, on the Blue Line. I'm starting to see a problem with this route...

It wouldn't be this crowded if we were right behind a 441 or 442!
Now we headed up North Shore Road, which was at first residential with a few businesses. However, there was also lots of marshland between the buildings, offering either terrific open views, including a train heading north, or awful views of the backs of apartments - depends on what side you sit on. The further we went, the more industrial the road got, at least until the Point of Pines neighborhood where it got residential again.

Some houses in the marsh.
Luckily, we didn't have to do that annoying Point of Pines deviation that the 441/442 does. In fact, the 448/449 runs express between Wonderland and Lynn, so we didn't have to make any of the stops that the 441/442 does! We went over a bridge into Lynn, where there were a few gigantic businesses and a lot of industrial buildings.

A view!
As the wide Lynnway continued north, it basically just got entirely industrial. It, uh, kinda took a while to go away, but eventually we came up alongside the water and turned onto Market Street. Next, we turned onto the Lynn Busway, right next to the Commuter Rail station, then we made our way up Union Street and turned onto Exchange Street.

Downtown Lynn.
Exchange Street merged into Broad Street, featuring a mixture of dense houses, apartments, and businesses. Eventually, it became Lewis Street and we passed what looked like an abandoned elementary school, or at least a very run-down one. The house-business mix continued as we entered Swampscott and came about a block away from the ocean.

So close!!!
Unfortunately, the 448 doesn't go by the ocean, preferring to go inland on New Ocean Street. It soon became Paradise Road, but the scenery stayed the same: dense houses lining the street. There was an elementary school and a park, then some industrial buildings after a line of telephone wires.

Houses on a side street.
It started to get more hilly and rocky, although not in any kind of exciting or scenic way. We went by a few big apartment complexes, then there were a few barebones shopping plazas and businesses with parking lots. This was "Vinnin Square," but it wasn't much of a square at all, and it was, in fact, pretty ugly and boring.

Yup, there it is.
We turned briefly onto Vinnin Street, then made another quick turn onto Salem Street. We passed through a golf course, then there were some fairly dense houses alongside the road. Once we reached Humphrey Street, we turned onto it, rejoining the 442 and 449.

Tee up!
Of course, I need to talk about the 449's unique section, too, so we'll go back to Ocean Street briefly for that. That route does go by the ocean, and it goes right by the ocean. It runs along Humphrey Street with water on one side and houses and businesses on the other side, and it's really scenic.

NICEEEEEEEE!!!!
After a nice section along a beach, though, that was it - we were inland again. It was mostly houses, but we did also pass a police station and a park. The houses got a little bigger and more spread out as Humphrey Street curved north, and once we hit Salem Street, we were joined by the other routes. Back to the 448! Well, technically still both of them, but you know what I mean.

How's about one more view before we go inland again?
Humphrey Street was almost entirely houses, aside from the one-off retail building on occasion. There was also a church and a school, but not all that much else until we merged onto Pleasant Street, where there was...another church and another school. It was still mostly residential, but now we also passed a rail trail, a fire station, and yet another school.

Lotsa houses.
There was a small shopping plaza soon after, though, and then we entered Marblehead Center! Of course, there were businesses everywhere. Pleasant Street turned one-way beyond there, and it got very narrow with really dense houses on either side. There was even more retail when we turned onto Washington Street.

Marblehead is so charming!
Washington Street was just historical houses that were really close together, and the street was so narrow that cars had to pull over to let us by. Finally, we turned onto Franklin Street, arriving at the lovely terminus at the Marblehead Fire House. There was a 442 waiting right there, so after a bit of a wait for it to actually open the doors, we hopped on board and headed home.

Darn it...the bus changed to a 441!
At least we've still got the 449, albeit still with that horrible destination sign.
I love this terminus!
Route: 448/449 (Marblehead - Downtown Crossing via Paradise Road or Humphrey Street, Lynnway, and Airport)

Ridership: Okay, I'm not gonna lie and say that these routes don't get a lot of ridership, considering how many trips they have: the 448 gets 176 people per day, while the 449 gets 158. HOWEVER, these numbers don't take into account how many people actually ride this thing from Boston. You see, on both my trips, the express ridership was tiny. I can't remember what it was on the 449, but it was a measly five people on the 448. Sure, 20 extra passengers boarded at Wonderland, but they could've just as easily waited for a 441 or 442 that plies the exact same route.

Pros: The big draw for the 448 and 449 as express routes is that they offer a one-seat ride to the Seaport District. This is definitely a good thing in theory. I also love the fact that they run express from Wonderland to Lynn, meaning they don't get bogged down with even more 441/442 passengers. The schedules for the routes also make sense, with service about every half hour during weekday rush hours only.

Cons: The thing is, these routes don't need to exist. I mean, let's take South Station as an example. Google Maps affirms that it takes about the same amount of time (in fact, a little faster) to take the Blue Line to the 441/442, rather than just take the one-seat ride on the 448/449. The Seaport is a bit of a different story, since it's further from the Blue Line, but the 448 and 449 are often so late anyway that you'll have to wait a long time for them, and they'll take far longer than their scheduled time. Ergo, the 448 and 449 are essentially redundant, and they don't have to exist.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Oh, Marblehead is still a beautiful town. However, I can't imagine why anyone would want to take a day trip up there starting at 5 PM! Yeah, the 441/442 is a lot more flexible with regards to getting to Marblehead...

Final Verdict: 2/10
Look, all these routes do is get a few people to their jobs at the Seaport at a marginally faster speed than the 441/442. And you know, the 441/442 gets absolutely slammed at rush hour. Why is the T wasting four buses (five in the morning rush) to do these trips that really only get people on the combined section with the 441/442? No, a much better use of resources would be to take the four or five buses and put them on the 441/442 to increase service. Maybe there could even be a new route, the 440, that runs from Wonderland to Lynn, where most of the ridership is. The full trips on the 441/442 to Marblehead could run express between them, while the 440 would make local stops. Even just pumping up service on the existing routes is fine...but please do something with these buses other than put them on this waste of an express route.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
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