I got this great review from Aria A. reviewing the 73! It's incredibly well-timed, since I have finally ridden in myself, and have my own post in the works. That'll probably come out tomorrow, but for now, here's an alternate review of the route. Thanks, Aria!
I had never ridden the 73 before today. Strangely enough, I took the 71 into Watertown (which is where I live) instead of the 73 on the way back from Harvard. I live in the West End, so I'm not that far from Waverley Square's terminal. I also like walking, but I originally thought that it would've been a bit unnecessarily time consuming (according to Google Maps, it would've taken me between 25-30 minutes to get home by walking). I didn't feel like walking home today, though, since it was kinda cold, so I just took a 70A home. But anyway, here's the ride.
At Waverley Square, the only people that got off were a married couple and their two kids. The driver also stalled the bus and went to go get a coffee from a Dunkin' Donuts across the street. He was a nice guy as well, side note; he greeted each passenger and was quite polite. Once he got back, only three others got onto the bus alongside myself. This might've been normal since it was a Saturday, but I hope the weekdays have more people at the terminal. Departing the terminal, the bus commenced on a loop onto Trapelo Road. Afterward, it simply continued along the road. Trapelo Road is mainly a mixture of residential and small business. A few people got on and one or two got off on the way to Benton Square, the junction between Trapelo Road and Belmont Street. Once the road turned into Belmont Street, it became a lot more residential. It stayed like this until the road ends into Mount Auburn Street. Wait, this seems familiar....
Of course! It's where the 71 goes! Now why do both routes continue on Mount Auburn Street into Cambridge? Whoever made these routes may not have known what they were doing. There's a simple alternative for the 73, which is to merge both the 73 and 72 together. The 72, as you know, is practically useless as a standalone route. Everything is within walking distance of either the West Cambridge or Harvard Square areas. But if they merged, it'd get rid of the useless 72 route and the 73 would make a bit more sense. Anyway, the rest of the route is the exact same as the 71, so there really isn't much need to talk about what's to see on Mount Auburn Street. A kinda funny part of the trip I want to mention is when I stayed on the bus when everybody else got off at the Harvard busway. This is because I wanted to get off at Cambridge Common instead, so I had to ask the driver if I could stay on until the bus got there since he asked for where I was going. Being the nice guy that he was, he allowed it. I wouldn't see why he wouldn't, but whatever.
(A link to Aria's picture of the 73 on Flickr)
Route: 73 (Waverley Square - Harvard Station via Trapelo Road)
Ridership: Like I said, I took this on a Saturday. Regardless, a total of about 15 people got on the bus on the way to Harvard. Not sure how many usually get on for the Waverley-bound trip on weekends, but I'd assume it'd be either the same or slightly less.
Pros: The Belmont portion of the 73's route is great, as it goes all throughout the town via Trapelo Road and Belmont Street, serving a lot of people. It's a Key Bus Route, so it runs VERY often on weekdays. On Saturdays, one bus comes every 15 minutes, which is actually quite good, and one comes every 20 minutes on Sundays. I've been on both Trapelo and Belmont during weekdays and I rarely see any buses bunching, although there have been a few instances of it. Nothing too bad, though.
Cons: The Cambridge portion of the route. It's the exact same as the 71's portion! Who thought that was a good idea? Why does the 72, a route which is completely within walking range for anybody in West Cambridge, get its own standalone route when it can be merged with the 73? "But why merge the two if the 72's route is all within walking distance?" Because the 73 would just make more sense. As narrow as Mount Auburn Street is in Cambridge, a second bus route running on it wouldn't be such a good idea.
Final verdict: 8/10
To recap, it serves a lot of people in Belmont, it's a Key Bus Route, it rarely bunches, and it's also just a nice ride. But again, I can't let go of the fact that the 73 has the same Cambridge portion as the 71. It doesn't make any sense, and that's why I had to lower the score. Aside from that, there isn't really anything else wrong with the route.