Monday, May 11, 2015

Savin Hill

I was surprised at how...not bad Savin Hill was. Seriously, every time I went by here (either making a stop when going to Ashmont or zipping by when on a Braintree train), I always thought "Geez, looks like a pit." I mainly thought this because the station is right next to I-93, and it's noisy for sure, but the station itself is actually kinda nice.

Okay, so the platform isn't actually that great.
Right, so the platform itself isn't the best. It's all covered, which is good, but it also has some pretty bland architecture. Plus, even though there's a thick fence between the station and the highway, it's still pretty noisy. There are plenty of benches on the platform, though, and they don't have those weird bench shelters like on the Braintree branch. Speaking of the Braintree branch, it's also fun to watch those trains speed by on the other tracks without stopping.

A nice glass hallway.
From the platform, there are stairs and an upward-bound escalator, as well as an elevator (which was added in Savin Hill's 2004-2005 renovation). These lead up to a nice hallway that in turn leads to both of the station's exits. The hallway is made of glass, and it even has some benches for people who may want to wait for the train inside.

The main mezzanine.
I didn't get to spend too much time in the main mezzanine, since there was an MBTA employee in there and I wanted to "act natural". But from what I saw, it was a nice mezzanine, with cool green walls and interesting lighting. Lots of natural light gets in, too. As for the fare gates, there are only four, but this station doesn't get much ridership, so four is probably enough.

Oh, yeah, I can totally tell that's a train station.
Architecturally, the main entrance to Savin Hill is great. I love how the main part is made out of glass, and the brick walls on the side make for some nice contrast. There's also a cool old-fashioned street clock outside the entrance. But I would much rather have that clock be replaced with a T logo, because there is no indication at all that this is a train station! The sign just says "121 Savin Hill", in reference to the station's address on Savin Hill Ave. How about sticking a "station" after that "Savin Hill", MBTA?

And the second entrance.
Believe it or not, there aren't any T logos at the second entrance on Sydney Street, either. It's more obvious with this one because you can see the platform from the street, but still! There isn't even any "Savin Hill" signage here, just a set of doors. The entrance itself is again nice, and it's pretty much entirely made of glass. There's also a small parking lot here with 20 spaces, which is a nice amenity even for a mostly local station.

Well doesn't that scream structural integrity?
It may be hard to tell, but that picture above is of a step on the staircase from the second entrance to its mezzanine. It is, however, quite easy to tell that this thing is in dire need of repair. Considering that a few of the other steps are like this, too, is it possible that this staircase isn't safe? I wouldn't be surprised.

A much smaller mezzanine.
I assume this is the lesser-used entrance, since the mezzanine is comparatively small. It has two fare machines and two wider "reduced fare" gates. It's a nice mezzanine, with lots of natural light getting in from all the windows. From here, it leads right into the hallway that goes to the platform.

A train coming over the hill south of the station.
A Braintree train zipping past!
Station: Savin Hill

Ridership: This is the second-worst Red Line station for ridership, with only 2,440 riders per weekday. It narrowly beats out the worst Red Line station, Shawmut, by 29 people. And like Shawmut, Savin Hill is a very local station, which is probably why its ridership is so low.

Pros: Overall, the aesthetics here are great. Aside from the platform (and even that doesn't look bad, per se, just bland), this station looks fantastic. I love how much natural light gets into the mezzanines, as well.

Cons: This doesn't bother me too much, but it's worth noting that there aren't any official bus connections here (though the 18 is only a few blocks away). What does bother me is the fact that this station has literally zero signage. Seriously, just stick a T logo somewhere in the general vicinity of Savin Hill and that'll be better than the current situation. Also, we can't forget about the Rotting Staircase of Despair in the Sidney Street entrance.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Heading west from the station there are a few local restaurants to find, including the Savin Bar and Kitchen, which I thought looked pretty good.

Final Verdict: 6/10
Maybe I take aesthetics too seriously. I mean, functionality is ultimately more important than how a station looks, isn't it? While I'm gonna keep on hating Prudential, the above statement certainly applies here. I think Savin Hill looks great, but you can't forget about the lack of signage or the rotting staircase. Seriously, fix that staircase.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Finally, there are proper countdown clocks on the Green Line! Yes, the D Line stops in Brookline now have screens telling you when the next train is arriving.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

26 (Ashmont Station - Norfolk and Morton Belt Line)

One of the most annoying things about taking buses from beginning to end is when you get kicked out at the last stop. This is especially annoying if the driver is really mad at you for just wanting to take the route to the end (cough, cough, the 8). But that problem doesn't exist with the 26, because it's a loop! Hooray! Seriously, I had no reason for wanting to take the 26 except for the fact that it's a loop that both starts and ends at Ashmont. I believe this is the only remaining MBTA bus that runs like this ever since the 48 was eliminated back in 2012. But unlike the 48, the 26 actually gets ridership.

The bus in the Ashmont busway.
The 26 is basically meant to serve the neighborhoods in between Talbot Ave and Gallivan Boulevard. It used to operate as two separate routes, one on Norfolk Street and the other on Washington Street, but in 1981 they were merged into a loop. Makes sense to me.

We left Ashmont with a bunch of people on board and headed up Dorchester Ave. Right after, we swung around onto Talbot Ave, which was almost entirely residential. The dense houses continued until Codman Square, where there was lots of retail. We continued a little further down Talbot Ave before turning onto Norfolk Street, which was once again residential.

But soon after, the street became lined with businesses again. After that, it was residential again. and we crossed over the Fairmount Line tracks. There was more retail when we turned onto Morton Street, joining the 21. We crossed over the Fairmount Line again, going by Morton Street Station, then went by some more businesses.

That industrial spire sticking up there is in Milton's Lower Mills. I thought this was a cool view.
It then went back to houses, and we turned onto Gallivan Boulevard. There were a few gas stations at the intersection with Washington Street, which we turned onto, leaving the 21. Washington Street was mostly residential, with the occasional business block. We went by a nice little library, then it became all businesses again as we came back into Codman Square. From there, we turned onto Talbot Ave and headed on back to Ashmont.

The bus heading up Dorchester Ave back in Ashmont.
Route: 26 (Ashmont Station - Norfolk and Morton Belt Line)

Ridership: I rode this bus on a Saturday, and yet there were still about 50 people who got on! And it's interesting because it felt like everyone knew each other. I've never been on such a local route that's also really busy. The 26 gets really good ridership on weekdays (2,139 people) and on Saturdays (1,157 people), yet on Sundays it's in the bottom 15 for ridership (only 336 people).

Pros: It serves neighborhoods that clearly need this bus, based on its ridership. Also, the fact that it's a loop means that it's able to serve more. Plus, the 26 has a great schedule most of the time, running every 15 minutes rush hour and every 30 minutes weekdays and Saturdays.

Cons: Every 70 minutes at night and every hour on Sundays isn't very good. Also, the fact that it's a loop means that it's a one-way service around, so some people may have to go around a large portion of the loop before they get to their destination. During rush hour this is rectified by running every other bus the other way around the loop, but for some reason this doesn't happen other times.

Nearby and Noteworthy: The little library looked nice, and there were plenty of small businesses along the route.

Final Verdict: 7/10
This route definitely serves a lot, and has the ridership to show for it. The fact that it's a loop is one of its greatest assets but also its most annoying problem. I think it should alternate directions at more times, at least weekdays and Saturdays - that means every hour clockwise and every hour counterclockwise. On Sundays, it makes more sense to keep things the way they are, unless they make the route run more frequently.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Saturday, May 9, 2015

18 (Ashmont Station - Andrew Station via Fields Corner Station)

I'm back! I'm sorry for not posting in about half a million years, but I've been quite busy. Also, I went to Bermuda over April vacation, and I rode a few new bus routes over there. I'll leave it to you guys if you want to see posts about those (here's one of them from last year if you want to know what to expect), so let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter what you think. Anyway, let's get into the review.

A little while back, I did a review of the 68 from Harvard Square to Kendall Square, via Broadway. I commented on the fact that the route doesn't have any points where it's the only option, and it gets pretty awful ridership. Proclaiming that "I honestly feel like the MBTA could scrap this route, and it wouldn't affect that many people," I gave it a 2/10. After that review, a commenter named Ari pointed out that the faithful locals who use the 68 would be up in arms if the MBTA tried to eliminate the route. That's certainly a valid point, but I still think the 68 is a bad route, and I don't regret the low score. Basically what I'm getting at is that the 18 is like the Dorchester equivalent of the 68.

Off-center, but it's growing on me.
The 18 is a mostly straight run up Dorchester Ave, running from Ashmont to Andrew. I got on at Ashmont, and we headed up - what else? - Dorchester Ave. We went through Peabody Square just north of Ashmont Station, then Dot Ave was lined with businesses. Some of them had apartments on top of them, and others were Vietnamese, since there's a pretty big Vietnamese community down here.

So much traffic! Those are the elevated Red Line tracks at Fields Corner up ahead.
It got more residential after that, We went by a park, and then came into the convoluted mess that is the 18 at Fields Corner. So we turned into the Park Street busway, then onto Geneva Ave, then onto that Fields Corner busway that doesn't have any stops on it, then onto the actual Fields Corner busway, then back onto Geneva Ave, then back onto the stopless Fields Corner busway, then back onto Dorchester Ave to continue with the route. It took over 5 minutes just to get through all this.

This driver must've changed the destination board early, because the 18 doesn't run on this street. This is at Andrew Station.
After that, the businesses got denser, then we went through an industrial portion with lots of auto shops. On my particular trip, we stayed on Dorchester Ave the whole time from here on out, but normally buses take a strange and seemingly pointless detour. Had we been taken this detour, we would have turned onto Bay Street, then onto Auckland Street (now heading south, away from where we were heading), then onto Dewar Street, and then back onto Dot Ave, doubling back on ourselves. I think skipping it certainly sped up the ride a bit.

That same bus heading back up Dorchester Ave.
After crossing over Savin Hill Ave, the industrial area ended and it was back to dense businesses with apartments on top. We went by an apartment building, then crossed over Columbia Road, connecting with the 8 and 41. Continuing up Dot Ave, we passed through a purely residential area with dense apartments, then onto a bridge over I-93 and the Red Line and Commuter Rail tracks. Soon after that, we turned onto Southampton Street, then Ellery Street, and then into the Andrew Station busway.

Look how downtown looms! It looks really close.
Route: 18 (Ashmont Station - Andrew Station via Fields Corner Station)

Ridership: Being the local route that it is, the 18's ridership isn't very high. There were only about 10 people on my Saturday ride. On weekdays, it only gets an average of 619 riders, and on Saturdays, only 175 - the fifth worst Saturday bus route for ridership. Like the 68, most of the riders on this route only went for a few stops.

Pros: But unlike the 68, this route does serve a lot. Sure, it more or less parallels the Red Line and goes pretty close to its stops, but it actually has some sections where it's the only option. Plus, although Broadway is a major street in Cambridge, it doesn't come close to the importance of Dot Ave. I mean, this is basically the main throughway of Dorchester, and it makes perfect sense to run a bus down it.

Cons: For one thing, I think a lot of people don't use this bus just because it comes so close to the Red Line. I mean, it directly serves Ashmont, Fields Corner, and Andrew, and comes within a few blocks of Shawmut and Savin Hill. In addition, parts of this route are just so convoluted! The 18 at Fields Corner is a mess, and it seems like it would be so much easier to just skip the Park Street busway and have it go directly into the Fields Corner busway. Also, does it really need to serve Auckland Street? I don't know if the Savin Hill Apartments is an old-age home, but if not, I think its residents can walk a block to Dorchester Ave.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Lots of businesses along Dot Ave, but I don't have anything specific.

Final Verdict: 3/10
I've been comparing the 18 to the 68 this whole review, and I do think the 18 is better. It's longer, serves more, and even runs on Saturdays! The schedule, by the way, is not great, as you'd expect - every half hour during rush hour, and every hour during the day and on Saturdays. The last bus is at about 6 PM, which is also like the 68. But I do think the MBTA should keep the 18 around, although its route is really crazy. Seriously, it's drawn as a straight line on the map! Just make the route a straight line!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Governor Charlie Baker has appointed five new members to the MassDOT board after pressuring six of its seven previous members to resign. In non-MBTA news, Google Maps officially made the switch over to "The New Google Maps", and it is the slowest, most frustrating thing ever. This could mean longer wait periods between blog posts, but hopefully nothing along the lines of the horrendously long amount of time I made you guys wait before this post comes out.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Ah, here we go! Let's review a good-looking station for once! Yes, Ashmont was renovated recently, and it looks amazing. Let's get right into it and wash out the brutalism from the last review.

This platform is awesome!
I really, really love Ashmont's platform. It's at ground level, but completely enclosed, but it also has glass windows so you can still look out! It's a really, really nice platform. It does have these weird benches that you kind of lean on while standing up, but you have to take the good with the bad. There are normal benches, too.

A train leaving the station.
And something I didn't fully understand until I last came here was that the outbound platform (where trains go out of service) has no fare gates! You can just leave and get into the busway! And it's not like people can fare dodge and just walk onto the outbound platform because you can't get on trains there! But the inbound platform still has fare gates, obviously! Okay, well, it's a cool layout to me, at least.

The northern mezzanine.
The northern mezzanine is pretty swanky. It has a bunch of fare gates and fare machines, with a very straightforward layout, which is always good. It also has some benches that form a circle, which is pretty cool. And there's a big window overlooking the platform where you can watch the trains go by. What's more, the glass was reasonably clean! Woah!

And that just looks amazing.
From the northern mezzanine, there's a small plaza that leads up to Peabody Square. It's pretty standard as far as plazas go, but my favorite thing about it is the view of the station it offers. Ashmont's slanted roof looks really, really cool. Also, there's a creepy moon-egg-face-sculpture-thing. Just saying...

The second mezzanine.
The second way to enter the station is directly from the busway. Its mezzanine is pretty much the exact same thing as the other one, which isn't a bad thing. Also, Ashmont has a Pedal and Park facility that's just out of the way. You have to walk down Dorchester Ave a bit to find it. There should probably be some signage for that...

The busway.
The station's busway is fairly straightforward. It has two lanes, both of which are sheltered. Ashmont is served by 10 buses, plus route 12 of the BAT to Brockton. Oh, how I really want to take that BAT. I hate it when I'm in the busway and there's a BAT waiting there and I want to get on so bad but I know I don't have time to go all the way down to Brockton. Some day...

Ah, we can't forget about the good ol' Mattapan High Speed Line!
The Mattapan High Speed Line used to run right into the busway, and there was a free transfer from the train. However, as part of Ashmont's renovation, they cut off the MHSL to its own elevated platform. It doesn't have any proper benches, just a set of those weird "leaning" ones. I have to say, though, the elevated loop for the trolleys is fantastic.

A trolley ascending into the station.
Station: Ashmont

Ridership: It's pretty high, all things considered. The Red Line gets an average of 9,293 riders per weekday, making Ashmont the busiest Red Line station south of South Station. This is also the hub of the Mattapan High Speed Line, so this is the station with the highest ridership on that line - 2,036 people per weekday.

Pros: Well, this is just a beautiful station! It's really modern, with glass and metal everywhere. It's also straightforward, including a busway that's not a total maze. Speaking of buses, there are quite a few bus connections here, as well.

Cons: For one thing, there should be better signage for the Pedal and Park. I didn't even know it existed until I took a bus from here and saw it out the window. Also, there really ought to be a free transfer to the MHSL from the Red Line. At the very least, add a proper bench to the MHSL's platform!

Nearby and Noteworthy: Actually, the surroundings of this station are surprisingly residential. There are some businesses in the immediate vicinity, as well as up Dorchester Ave, but it's mostly just houses.

Final Verdict: 9/10
Okay, so there are a couple of flaws here. The MHSL's platform could really use an actual bench, and there needs to be signage for the Pedal and Park, but honestly, this is a great station. Extra points for the amazing platform and the really cool slanted roof.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Don't forget that it's free fare day this Friday! All MBTA modes of service will be free of charge, including the Commuter Rail.

Community College

Man, North Point Park is really nice! I was coming from the Science Museum and decided to take a detour to the park, which is right across the street. It's pretty new, having been built in 2007, and it's a great park. From there, I went over the even more recent pedestrian bridge under the Zakim, which was awesome as well. So yeah, if you haven't been to the North Point Park yet, I recommend you check it out.

Oh, right, then I went to Community College. That was slightly less awesome.

Aw, let's go back to the park...
One entrance to the station leads in from the Gilmore Bridge. It's a really pedestrian unfriendly area, since all the roads around the station are super wide. As for the entrance itself, it's very...concrete. Yeah, brutalist style isn't the best. There are also some bike racks here, which is convenient.

The walkway to Bunker Hill Community College.
Luckily, the MBTA accounted for the pedestrian unfriendliness. There's a system of pedestrian walkways in place which are definitely more frequented than the Gilmore Bridge entrance. The first one leads right from the entrance directly to the Community College itself, Bunker Hill Community College.

The second walkway.
If you navigate through the Community College's plaza, you get to a second walkway. This one leads over the massive New Rutherford Ave, which, let me tell you, is a pain to cross at ground level. From there, you can get into Charlestown.

The mezzanine.
But back to the station itself. The mezzanine is small, bland, and doesn't expect a lot of ridership, with only a few fare machines and gates. It also has a bench with a payphone in front of a window. Interestingly, there's another window-bench combination past the fare gates. I guess this is for people who don't want to wait for the train outside when it's cold out.

There are stairs and an upward escalator that lead to the platform. They look like any other northern Orange Line station, so there isn't much to talk about there. More interesting is the elevator, which is accessed by a long glass walkway, seen above. Of course, the elevator itself smelled like urine, as MBTA elevators are prone to do, but the walkway was pretty cool.

The platform.
The platform is typical northern Orange Line, serving both inbound and outbound trains. It's got concrete everywhere and those little bench-shelter rooms. The "unique" thing here is how noisy it is. Community College is right under I-93, and let me tell you, those cars are loud. However, it is cool that this station has a "ghost platform" which would've been used if the Orange Line ever got extended to Reading.

A train leaving the station.
Station: Community College

Ridership: This station has the fourth-worst ridership on the Orange Line overall, and the worst for its northern section. Community College only gets 4,956 riders per day, which could be attributed to its mostly industrial surroundings. Also, it doesn't have any bus connections, which could contribute to the low amount as well.

Pros: Okay, the pedestrian walkways are an admittedly nice touch. And overall, this station is straightforward for sure. So, um, that's good.

Cons: Two words: brutalist style. Seriously, why does every northern Orange Line station have to be so concrete and bland and awful? Also, it's right under a highway, so don't expect a quiet wait.

Nearby and Noteworthy: This is the closest station to the Bunker Hill Monument, but it's still a bit of a walk. Other than that...well, there's a 99 Restaurant across the street...

Final Verdict: 4/10
Yeah, there isn't much to say about this one. The direct connection to the Bunker Hill Community College and to Charlestown is certainly nice, but the station is so ugly! Brutalist style really doesn't do it for me, and this station has way too much concrete for my liking. Plus, it's right under I-93, which makes it extremely noisy.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Tufts Medical Center

Last summer I had a job that required going to Chinatown once a week. I would always use Tufts Medical Center, since it was closer to where I was working (also, Chinatown Station is pretty awful). Being a jaded commuter then, I really didn't focus too much on the station itself. But I came here for fun recently, so I can give it a proper review now. Huzzah!

Gosh, I forgot just how dingy this platform is!
So yeah, as you can see above, the platform is a bit of a mess. I don't mind the brick walls, but the rest is horrible. The ceiling is really dirty, the middle portion between the tracks has all this white stuff on it, and the floors are unclean. Like Davis, there is some art at the ends of the platform to try to liven things up. It looks really nice, but is overpowered by the dinginess of the station.

It looks really good, though!
Going up the stairs leading to the Washington Street exit, we came across something really gross (I was with my friends Jason and Michael - this was the same day we explored Back Bay). On the side of the stairs, there was this big blob of...something. It was slightly yellowish, but looked shiny, and it was disgusting. I took a picture of it, but, um, hey, look at the pretty mezzanine!

Well, not that pretty, but better than the platform.
One thing I will say about this station is that it does flow incredibly easily. On either end of the station, there's a room with stairs leading to each platform which then goes to the mezzanine. And the main one seems like it handle a lot of people. Again, it flows really well, with a bunch of fare gates on one side and a bunch of fare machines on the other. Nice and simple. As for the aesthetics, it's pretty good compared to the platform. A little boring, but at least it's not dingy.

The main entrance.
The main entrance leads out to Washington Street and the actual Tufts Medical Center. It's a fairly simple entrance, with an elevator, a really wide set of stairs, and an upward-bound escalator. There are some Porter-esque vent things as you go down the stairs, and I still don't know what the heck they're used for. Also, there are a whole bunch of newspaper boxes on the outside of the entrance, which is nice.

The Silver Line bus stop.
There's a stop out here for the SL4 and SL5, as well. Alas, there are no fancy shelters, and there aren't even those countdown clocks they have further down the route (but having used the Silver Line for the aforementioned job, I can tell you those clocks were useless). It's just kind of a sheltered bus stop with some raised brick areas that act as pseudo-benches. Really, this isn't the nicest of bus stops.

The much smaller second mezzanine.
Something that took me a little while to wrap my head around is that this station is oriented diagonally. What can I say, it looks straight when you're down on the platform! But anyway, this means that the second entrance is southwest of the main one, on Tremont Street. Its mezzanine is much smaller, with only two fare gates, and it's pretty bland. Again, it's not as bad as the platform, but it's still pretty awful.

An oddly-angled picture of the entrance.
The entrance, too, is pretty ugly. It has lots of peeling paint and is bland in general. There's quite a contrast between this one and the main one, too. Over here, it doesn't feel as busy or built up - just pretty quiet. This definitely seems like the lesser-used entrance.

My camera did not like this station, as you can see by the blurriness of that train.
Station: Tufts Medical Center

Ridership: It's pretty low - there are a little over 6,100 people who use this station every weekday. Most of these people are probably commuting to the many hospitals around the station, though there are also some residences accessible from the Tremont Street entrance.

Pros: Okay, well, it does flow really well. There's never a doubt here about where to go because of how straightforward it is. And it really does accommodate for a lot of people, at least at the main entrance.

Cons: Aesthetically, though, this station is terrible. The entrances are meh, the mezzanines are bland, and the platform is horrible. Also, there was that blob thing on the stairs. What the heck was that? The world may never know.

Nearby and Noteworthy: If hospitals aren't really your thing, Chinatown is close by, as well as the Theatre District.

Final Verdict: 5/10
Well, Tufts Medical Center is functional, for sure. There aren't too many MBTA stations that are this straightforward, especially on the underground section of the Orange Line (darn you, State, and your endless transfer of death). But I also like my aesthetics, and that's where this station falls flat. The platform is horrible, and the rest is just bland.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

87 (Arlington Center or Clarendon Hill - Lechmere Station via Somerville Ave)

I originally had this grand plan to take all the Lechmere buses I haven't taken yet in one day. This plan fell flat because the 87 ran late. Come on, 87! Anyway, this route is a pretty straight run from Lechmere, up through Union Square and Davis Square, to Arlington Center. It's also incredibly popular, if my ride is to judge!

Dinginess, thy name is the Lechmere busway.
We made a hard left turn onto the McGrath Highway and sped onto a bridge over some Commuter Rail tracks. We exited off the highway, then made a u-turn to the other side in order to get onto Somerville Ave. This was a mixture of houses and businesses, but it became all of the latter once we reached Union Square.

We turned onto Bow Street, which went up and around, then merged back into Somerville Ave. The street got a bit industrial, though there were still houses and businesses mixed in. We were joined by the 83 at Park Street, and passed a playground and ice skating rink. Soon after, we merged onto Elm Street, going solo.

This street was much more residential. We went by the Porter Square Shopping Center, with the Red Line station just visible - the 87 bypasses the latter, though. After going by some more houses, we came into Davis Square. Going inbound, the route doesn't really serve the "downtown" area, opting for back roads instead. So, we turned onto Cutter Ave, then Highland Ave, then Grove Street, and then into the Davis Square busway.

From there, we made our way to Holland Street, now running with the 88. We passed some final businesses before it became more residential. The retail came back at Teele Square, where we merged onto Broadway, joining the 89. Soon after, we reached Clarendon Hill, where the 88 and 89 end. Also, the 87 terminates here nights and Sundays.

Clarendon Hill, with a bus laying over.
This being a Saturday, though, we continued onward towards Arlington Center. We passed a cemetery, then Broadway got residential again. There wasn't much of note along this section, and we entered Arlington Center soon after.

The bus heading down Mass Ave.
I was assuming that the bus would continue north along Mass Ave and then turn around somewhere else, so I was standing up the street all set to get an awesome picture of the bus. What I wasn't expecting was the thing to cut across a bunch of traffic and go over the median of Mass Ave in order to cross over to the other side! I guess the route is supposed to do this, but it was certainly unexpected. It also ruined my photo opportunity.

Okay, this is actually a pretty cool picture, though.
Route: 87 (Arlington Center or Clarendon Hill - Lechmere Station via Somerville Ave)

Ridership: I was blown away by the amount of people who rode this bus! There were over 60 riders, and it was a Saturday! The numbers show high ridership, too - on weekdays, the route gets an average of 3,796 riders; on Saturdays, it's 2,858; and on Sundays, it's 1,917. On weekends, the route is actually in the top 25 bus routes for ridership, which is great.

Pros: The 87 cuts through some densely packed areas, and links them to both Lechmere and Davis (and technically Porter). It also has a pretty good schedule across the board, running about every 15-20 minutes rush hour, every 30 minutes during the day and on Saturdays, every 35 minutes at night, and every 40 minutes on Sundays.

Cons: I guess every 40 minutes on Sundays might be a bit infrequent, but it's not horrible, especially compared to the last bus I reviewed. Also, it's annoying how the 87 doesn't go all the way to Arlington Center on Sundays, but on my ride, there were only two people going up there, anyway. It may just not be a portion of the route with a lot of ridership.

Nearby and Noteworthy: This route goes by Johnny D's, which I can't believe I forgot to mention in my Davis review. I've been to a lot of breakfast places and eaten their french toast, but out of all of those, Johnny D's is the clear winner. They also do a lot of live performances at night.

Final Verdict: 8/10
This is a pretty standard route, but also a good one. It serves a lot, runs often, and clearly gets used often. Also, the bus was never too crowded, because the riders were pretty spread out along the route. So yeah, the 87: it's pretty good.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
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