Sunday, January 18, 2015

429 (Northgate Shopping Center - Central Square, Lynn via Linden Square and Square One Mall)

Well, this was a crazy one. The 429's primary purpose seems to be serving the Square One Mall in Saugus, along Route 1. It also goes all the way down to Northgate Shopping Center, which is another reasonably popular destination. Along the way from Lynn, it takes a very twisty route through local backroads, which made for an interesting ride.

The bus in Lynn.
We twisted our way through downtown Lynn, eventually ending up on Franklin Street. It was a mixture of houses and businesses, all very close together. After passing a Super Stop & Shop (do they just have a monopoly on every automatic announcement?), we turned onto Boston Street, which was mostly residential. There were, however, a few industrial moments along this stretch, including a sizeable factory.

We then turned onto Myrtle Street, which felt slightly more suburban. Soon after, we turned onto Holyoke Street, then O'Callaghan Way, going by a couple of schools. Unexpectedly, we entered the fancy-sounding Kings Lynne housing development, heading up Kings Hill Drive. The street made a tight u-shaped curve north and became Garfield Ave.

A suburban view.
We left the similar houses of Kings Lynne, and the neighborhood became a suburban residential one, with decently spaced out houses. Making our way to Walnut Street, we went by Birch Pond, with houses on the other side. Walnut Street also marks where we entered Saugus.

The frozen-over Birch Pond.
We left the pond and it was residential for a little while longer. But then, we reached the ultimate king of pits, Route 1. There was a stop at the Saugus Plaza, then we rocketed down the highway. On either side there were very trashy businesses with huge parking lots, but we didn't stop for any of them. I've said that the area around Northgate is one of my least favorite places in greater Boston, but this part of Route 1 is much, much worse. This bus goes to Northgate too, though, so you get to see both.

Ewwwwwwww.
After going nonstop down the highway for a while, we finally turned off and pulled into the Square One Mall. Here, every single person on the bus got off except for me. We (or just me, I guess) then made our way to Essex Street, which was residential once again. At Cliftondale Square, there were some businesses, and we turned onto Lincoln Ave (with a few other people on the bus now).

Empty buses are intimidating...
Lincoln Ave turned residential again after Cliftondale. It turned into Salem Street once we entered Revere, but aside from a small apartment building it was still all houses. Soon, though, we passed a big apartment complex, then crossed under Route 1. Salem Street became Lynn Street after that, and we passed through Linden Square, turning onto Squire Road. This is the really pitty road to which I was referring earlier, but we didn't have to stay on it for too long, as we turned into Northgate a few minutes later.

The bus gets ready to go back to Lynn.
Route: 429 (Northgate Shopping Center - Central Square, Lynn via Linden Square and Square One Mall)

Ridership: There were about 20 people who rode my bus, with Kings Lynne, Square One, and Northgate being the major destinations. As for the overall numbers, it gets about 1500 boardings weekdays, 1000 on Saturdays, and 550 on Sundays. Particularly with the latter two, this route is mostly frequented by shoppers heading to the two malls.

Pros: Well, for one thing, it makes for an interesting ride - a mix of suburban houses and pit-pit-pittiness. But in terms of functionality, it serves two malls and links them up to Lynn - three if you count Saugus Plaza. It's the only direct link to Lynn from Northgate (via an admittedly circuitous route) as well as Square One, and the only route entirely to serve Saugus Plaza. Also, this route has a few school trips from O'Callaghan Way on weekdays - in both the morning and the afternoon! The 83 should follow the 429's example.

Cons: The schedule could use some beefing up. It's every half hour during rush hour, which is probably decent for a route like this, but then every hour other times. Particularly on Saturdays, it would be great if the route ran every 45 minutes or every half hour.

Nearby and Noteworthy: The malls, I suppose. Square One seemed to be the most happening.

Final Verdict: 7/10
Overall, the 429 is a pretty good route. It serves three malls, as well as western Lynn and northern Saugus. Its only problem is the schedule, which could stand to be improved. If you need to get from Lynn to Square One or (to a lesser extent) Northgate, though, then this is your bus.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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