The 39 doesn't actually start at the Forest Hills busway, but rather at a station that used to be served by E Line trains. See, the E branch of the Green Line used to run all the way down to Forest Hills, but they cut it back to Heath Street in the 1980s (the line was actually eliminated entirely for a few years, too). Some track still remains here, but obviously the trains don't come anymore. I'm not sure why the 39 doesn't serve the busway, because I feel like a reference to what used to be isn't reason to change an entire bus route.
|The former E Line station where the 39 boards and drops people off.|
|The destination board seems to be a bit garbled up.|
The rather sharp turn onto Huntington Ave is always fun on the train, when it screeches and squeaks trying to make it around the curve. On the bus it was somewhat less exciting, but we headed up Huntington Ave nonetheless. It started getting much more urban around here, with a tall tenement building at Mission Park Station.
After Fenwood Road the E Line went into the median of the street and the buildings got ever taller. On weekends the E doesn't usually go all the way to Heath, terminating at Brigham Circle, but even after that people were still choosing the bus over the train. We went by the Longwood Medical Area, the Museum of Fine Arts, and Northeastern University before the E Line went into its subterranean lair.
Symphony Station was really fun. I was wondering why the stop was so far from the actual station and Mass Ave. Turned out the 39 goes into a little bypass tunnel under Mass Ave, and the driver floored it. After roaring through the tunnel, there was a stop at good ol' Prudential Station, and then we turned onto Belvidere Street.
|I love it when these articulated buses make sharp turns and you can see the front from the back. Bus inception?|
|I know this post has a lot of pictures, but you gotta admit that this is a great one.|
Ridership: It's the busiest bus route on the MBTA. Even though it was actually pretty empty the first time I rode, this time almost 80 people took it - and this was a Sunday! Most of them got on for short distances, and I don't believe anyone but me went from beginning to end.
Pros: As a replacement for the E, it's pretty darn good. It has about the same capacity as what trains the E Line used to run, which is certainly a good thing as this bus had a lot of people riding. But since it uses articulated buses, nobody had to stand! And though these buses aren't as fantastic as the ones on the 28, they're still pretty great. Oh, and it's a Key Bus Route, so of course we've got a great schedule: every six minutes (!) rush hour, every 13 minutes during the day, every 12 minutes nights (and until 2 AM on Fridays and Saturdays), every 10 minutes Saturdays, and every 12 minutes Sundays. That's amazing.
Cons: The one thing I have to nitpick about is where the bus boards. There's not enough signage for it, and the area doesn't exactly look like a bus station. I had a hard time finding it the first time I rode - I feel there should be more signage around the station.
Nearby and Noteworthy: It goes right by the two tallest buildings in Boston, and I think you'll find a lot of interesting things to do around Copley Square. And of course, you can't talk about Copley Square without mentioning Newbury Street and its European-esque architecture and feel. I once went to a great Italian Restaurant there called Piattini (something specific, hooray!), but there are plenty of stores and restaurants on the street.
Final Verdict: 8/10
This is a fantastic replacement for the former E Line service - even where the bus runs alongside the existing tracks people still choose the bus over the train! And the articulated buses are great, as is the schedule. But would it hurt to put some "The 39 is over here" signs at Forest Hills? I feel like it's pretty hidden right now. And really, it's not exactly a proper busway where it boards. People just sort of stand around or lean against walls since there aren't any benches. I don't think it would cost too much to stick a few benches in there, would it?
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
The first of forty new Commuter Rail locomotives went into service today, on the Haverhill Line. The new trains will save the MBTA $1 million in fuel costs annually.