Thursday, February 19, 2015

55 (Jersey and Queensberry - Copley Square or Park and Tremont Streets via Ipswich Street)

The 55 is an odd little route. Running between Park Street (or Copley Square nights and weekends) and the quiet West Fens neighborhood south of Kenmore Square, it's certainly a "locals-only" route. Weirder still is that almost all of the 55 runs along with the Green Line, the only unique portion being a small loop around West Fens. Let's take a closer look.

It's hard to tell if there's a proper bus stop at Park Street Station, so I was waiting at a marked stop further down Tremont Street. The bus was already five minutes late when it stopped back at the station (I guess there is a stop there), but then the driver turned off the vehicle. It sat there for about 10 minutes before finally turning on again and heading down Tremont Street. I have no idea why the driver decided to do an unscheduled layover, but whatever..

Hurry up! And fix your destination board!
There was a lot of traffic, and it took quite a while to get down Tremont Street. We passed Boylston Station, then went a block south of the Boston Common, getting into the Theatre District a bit. Turning onto Stuart Street, we went by some restaurants and a cool-looking glass building. We turned onto Charles Street South a block later, and then after another block we turned onto Park Plaza.

Going inbound, the 55 is right alongside the Public Garden (as well as the Green Line), but the outbound route is a block away. The street became Saint James Ave and we passed both John Hancock Buildings, then entered Copley Square. We turned onto Huntington Ave, then Belvidere Street, going by the Prudential Center.

Turning onto Boylston Street, we went over the Mass Turnpike, and the buildings turned to smaller apartments. We turned onto Ipswich Street, which went right next to the Turnpike and under the Charlesgate bridge. On the other side, we passed by Fenway Park, then came back onto Boylston Street, where some new apartments are being built.

See that blurry thing? That's the Fenway Park parking garage! Wow!
We turned onto Kilmarnock Street, entering a cute neighborhood with lots of brownstones. We then turned onto Queensberry Street, which was already narrow without massive snowbanks on either side. It was a bit of a challenge getting through here. Jersey and Queensbury is technically the last stop, but I stayed on for one more so I could catch the 60 on Brookline Ave. Review of that coming soon...

What a nice neighborhood.
Route: 55 (Jersey and Queensberry - Copley Square or Park and Tremont Streets via Ipswich Street)

Ridership: Like I said, this is a very local route. There were only about 10 people on my ride, and a lot of them got off in places with easy Green Line access. The route only gets about 900 riders per weekday, 400 per Saturday, and 300 per Sunday.

Pros: Well, it's a really nice ride, I'll give it that. You see a lot of Boston landmarks if you take it from Park Street. And this route is mostly frequented by elderly or disabled people who live in West Fens, so it gives them local access to Copley Square and Park Street. Also, the route has a surprisingly good schedule for a small local route - every 17 minutes rush hour, every hour weekdays (admittedly not great), every 40 minutes nights, every 35 minutes Saturdays, and every half hour Sundays.

Cons: First of all, it's a really slow ride. Even on a midday trip there was lots of traffic, and the bus ended up being a half hour late. My main problem with the route, though, is how much time it spends travelling alongside the Green Line. Does it really need to parallel the Green Line the whole way?

Nearby and Noteworthy: Like I said, this route goes by lots of Boston landmarks. I wouldn't use it to get to a ball game, though.

Final Verdict: 5/10
The 55 could use some work. I really enjoyed my ride, and it has a good schedule, but it spends so much time paralleling the Green Line! I know it serves Copley Square this way, and it's probably deliberate, but what if they changed up the route a bit? Here's my proposal:



It basically converts the 55 into a loop that also serves the northern part of the Back Bay. The inbound route stays the same, so it still serves Copley Square, but the outbound route goes along Beacon to serve a neighborhood with no bus or subway service. I'm not sure if this would get any ridership, but it's just a fun little idea.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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