Monday, June 29, 2015

714 (Contracted Bus: Pemberton Point, Hull - Station Street, Hingham)

This has to be the most isolated route on the MBTA. It has no subway connections and only a Commuter Rail connection - barely. This is the 714, which runs from downtown Hingham all the way up the Hull peninsula to Pemberton Point, on the tip of Hull. Having just gotten off the 220, I didn't have to wait too long for the bus to show up. What I wasn't expecting was this:

Oh! Um...hi, there.
Yeah, did I forget to mention this isn't an official MBTA route? It's contracted by the MBTA, but actually run by Joseph's Transportation. And, as it would seem, that company uses minibuses. I mean, come on, it doesn't even have any signage! Oh, wait, hang on. Okay, I literally just noticed this looking at the picture:



Wow! So it does get a sign...but it's relegated to a tiny corner in an insignificant window of the bus. I suppose the route is local enough so that everyone knows it's the bus to Hull, but still...at least put the piece of paper with the route on it on the front windshield or something! The bus even has a whole destination board up top that's not being used!

The inside, looking toward the back.
Okay, so I got in, right? I had my "Exact fare only" all ready to go, but I got in, and there wasn't a fare box. "Where do I pay?" I asked the driver. He extended his hand - "Right here," he said. Wow, okay. I mean, I've never been on a bus where you literally just give the money to the driver, but sure! Why not?

Looking toward the front of the bus.
I gotta say, though, the inside of the bus was very nice. Its seats were quite comfy, even though there were only about 20 of 'em on the bus. It was a very quiet vehicle on the inside, which was great. Also, there weren't any stop request buttons or cords - this is because the 714 technically has no stops. People just kind of get off and on whenever they want, which is a great way of running local routes like this.

We left the Station Street bus stop and made our way to Summer Street. We reached a rotary, where some trips divert to serve the Nantasket Junction Commuter Rail station, should a passenger call Joseph's Transportation to request a pickup. Evidently no one called the company on this trip, and we continued down Summer Street, which soon became Rockland Street.

A marshy view.
Interestingly, this particular trip was supposed to take the George Washington Boulevard routing via the Hull Medical Center, but we took the normal route instead. So we went right by George Washington Boulevard, continuing down Rockland Street. The surroundings were pretty marshy, with houses that were spaced far apart from each other.

Crossing into Hull.
There were a few small stores at the intersection with Nantasket Ave, which we turned onto. We then crossed over a river (estuary, I suppose) and entered Hull. The houses were a bit denser now. We turned onto School Street, then Atlantic Ave, and then back onto Nantasket Ave. Now the surroundings were big apartment towers and touristy seaside restaurants, for we were at Nantasket Beach.

The lovely beach view.
There was a pretty amazing view of the open sea to the right of the bus. It was unfortunate that the waves weren't as high here as they usually are, but it was still a great view. Meanwhile, on the other side, we passed some more Nantasket Beach attractions, such as a mini-golf course and the Paragon Carousel. We then curved away from the beach on Hull Shore Drive, which became Nantasket Ave once more.

A view of some houses.
After a block of businesses on either side of the street, the surroundings became pretty dense houses. It felt infinitely more urban than the Hingham section, which is closer to Boston by car than Hull is! Eventually the cross streets became alphabetized, and we passed these pretty quickly. There was a park at L Street, then we curved onto Fitzpatrick Way after Y Street.

The view of a cove thing between Fitzpatrick Way and Nantasket Ave. I believe we were supposed to have taken Nantasket Ave, but...we didn't.
We came back onto Nantasket Ave on a small isthmus with houses on either side of the road. After a fleeting view of the city (of which I got no good pictures), we turned onto Spring Street, which hugged the coastline. It passed the bridge to Spinnaker Island, which seems to be an island of identical houses. Spring Street then became Main Street, and curved inland.

A view of...something. Well, it was a nice view.
This seemed to be a more suburban part of Hull - the houses were a bit more spread out. We went by a basketball court and a church, then curved around back to the coast. At the Hull High School (which is right on the tip of Hull), we looped around and came to the Pemberton Point bus stop.

The bus laying over at Pemberton Point.
And again, with a wind turbine in the background.
Route: 714 (Contracted Bus: Pemberton Point, Hull - Station Street, Hingham)

Ridership: On my ride, there were about 20 people in total. Most of them got on at Hingham and used it to get to Hull, but some riders actually boarded in Hull, using it for local service. This is one of those routes where everyone knows each other, which is always fun. The ridership statistics are a bit wonky for this route in the Blue Book in that they're by month and year, rather than by day. Thus, the 714 got 44,337 riders in 2013, and the month it had the highest ridership was August, with 4,820 people. That translates to about 160 riders per day, which really isn't that much - and that's the month with the highest ridership!

Pros: This is the only bus route to serve Hull, and it seems to have a local following. And it goes all the way up the peninsula, so it pretty much serves the entire town, given how narrow it is. I like how it doesn't have stops, so people can get on and off wherever they please. Also, the buses it uses are really nice, particularly in that they're so quiet. I mean, they're practically silent. Finally, the schedule is such so that just one bus can run back and forth along the route, and I wouldn't be surprised if Joseph's only has one bus for this route, so it all works out. To be honest, too, every hour makes sense, as the route's ridership is so low. And it's great how it manages to be coordinated with the 220, the Commuter Rail, and the Commuter Boat from Boston.

Cons: Okay, this bus needs better signage. Seriously, just move that piece of paper to the windshield and we're golden! Also, I can't help but notice how the driver sort of disregarded the route on my ride. We were supposed to go via George Washington Boulevard, but the driver took the normal route instead. And we were supposed to go via Nantasket Ave the whole way, but the driver took the more direct route on Fitzpatrick Way. I mean, hypothetically, what if people had wanted to get on or off along those portions of the route we skipped?

Nearby and Noteworthy: Nantasket Beach has to be my favorite beach in the Greater Boston area, simply because its waves are usually quite big. I might've taken the bus during low tide or something, since the waves were small when we passed the beach, but trust me, they can get really big here. Also, the Paragon Carousel is always a fun place to let out your inner child - it's right across the street from the beach.

Final Verdict: 9/10
Okay, so based on the merit of how good of a ride it is, this route is honestly a 10. The views were amazing from start to finish, and it was also interesting because of how local it felt. The 714 definitely does have flaws, though. The signage problem can be easily fixed, but I'm not really sure what to think about the driver taking a different route than what the schedule says. Also, every hour isn't the best schedule, but based on the ridership, it seems to be all that's necessary. Overall, this was a really fantastic and scenic ride.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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