|A non-blurry picture in the Harvard busway? This is a miracle! Too bad this wasn't actually the bus I rode...|
|The bus I took. This picture looks surprisingly okay...|
|A shot of the Charles River from my ride back.|
|A residential side street.|
|Ahh...I love that median on Aberdeen Ave.|
|Another street lined with houses.|
|I was experimenting with shots out the front of the bus on this ride.|
|Another frontwards shot.|
|The bus at Waverley Square.|
Ridership: The 73 is a Key Bus Route, so of course it gets high ridership, However, it's generally on the lower end of the Key Bus Route spectrum, with 6,424 riders per weekday, 3,207 riders per Saturday, and 1,974 riders per Sunday (it does get more ridership than its 71 companion, though). Despite its more serene nature on weekends, the 73 can get packed during rush hour - even my trip around 3:30 got a good 30 passengers heading out of Harvard, though it can get to be much more as the evening progresses.
Pros: Ah, there's so much to love about this route. For one thing, its schedule is great. To accommodate its rush hour crowds, the 73 runs as often as every 5 minutes during those times. Otherwise, it goes every 15 minutes during the day and on Saturdays, every 20 minutes on Sundays, and every 25 minutes at night. These are all perfectly timed based on the route's ridership. Additionally, it's a lovely ride through some great neighborhoods, and the route itself is quick, straight, and serves a large chunk of West Cambridge, Watertown, and Belmont. Finally, the strange exit fare system is neither a pro nor a con, so I'm just gonna mention it here to make the "pros" section longer because this is such a great route.
Cons: No trackless trolleys, unfortunately, but that has advantages and drawbacks all on its own. However, the 73 does have a bit of a bunching problem, although I will say that that's very hard to avoid with every 5 minute service. Besides, it's nothing compared to the 1 or the 77, neither of which run as frequently as the 73! Finally, I know that Aria A. suggested that the 73 gets merged with the 72 because of its redundancy with the 71, although I personally disagree there. Honestly, the Mount Auburn Street corridor in Cambridge is a very busy one with the hospital being a major ridership draw - it would lose a lot of service with the merger, plus it would lengthen the ride for 73 passengers. Merging the 72 and the 75, on the other hand? Yeah, that should happen.
Nearby and Noteworthy: I don't know any specific places the route goes by, but they all look so interesting! The 73 passes so many small businesses along its route, running the gamut from restaurants and little stores to even a tiny movie theater!
Final Verdict: 10/10
Okay, as you may know, 10s are rare occurrences on this blog. Let me explain my reasoning: the 73 is the best run Key Bus Route on the system. It operates very frequently during rush hours to accommodate the unavoidable crowding, and still has a great schedule other times, contributing to its higher ridership. And yet this is also one of the most serene bus routes on the MBTA, both because of the lovely neighborhoods it runs through and the fact that you're pretty much guaranteed to get a seat outside of rush hour. Frequent service, good ridership, and tranquility? It's like the 71, except it runs more often (though I do love the 71, too)! And sure, it may experience a bit of bunching here and there, but only on weekdays during its times with really close headways. Seriously, this is hands down the best Key Bus Route, and one of the best regular bus routes, on the MBTA. If it ever switches back to trackless trolleys, it might as well be an 11!
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