|The bus letting some people off at Wellington.|
|That blotch on the window to the left ruined the picture!|
|Looking down Eastern Ave.|
|The view of the parking lot.|
|Rounding the corner of the park.|
|Ah, the Fellsway is such a nice road!|
|Another shot of the Fellsway! I'm sorry, it's just so nice.|
|Oh my, that's a decrepit stop...|
|The bus underneath the peeling paint of the first balcony.|
Ridership: On my ride? Hardly anyone! There were less than 10 people on both my outbound and inbound trips, and all of them were confined to the shared section with the 106! Literally no one went north of Malden Center. The route's ridership is surprisingly high overall, though, with 1,555 riders per weekday, 1,049 per Saturday, and 591 per Sunday. Still, I'll bet most of that weekend ridership is on the shared section, if my ride is to judge.
Pros: Well, I guess the route does serve a little pocket of houses in suburban parts of Malden and Medford, which is good. And it provides very frequent service during rush hour - every 15-20 minutes. Serving Gateway Center on Saturdays makes sense, and a good amount of the low ridership on my trips came from there.
Cons: Alright, let's start with the obvious: THIS ROUTE TERMINATES AT AN ABANDONED HOSPITAL IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Moving on, the 99 has a really inconsistent schedule, running intermittent 40-45 minute headways on weekdays and every 50 minutes on Saturdays. Aside from nights and Sundays, with every hour service, the 99 has no coordination with the 106, which means you can end up playing leapfrog like what happened on my ride back from the - oh yeah - ABANDONED HOSPITAL. Additionally, the deviation to serve the Malden Family Health Center is completely unnecessary on weekends, and the bus basically rockets up there only to speed back down, like the driver wants to get through it as fast as possible. Honestly, though, I would argue that this route doesn't need to run at all on weekends. I mean, the 106 has 30 minute service on Saturdays, which is perfectly capable of handling traffic between Wellington and Malden - and the 99 past Malden gets no one, so what's the point? Sunday is a different story, where the 99 and 106 alternate to form every 30 minute service, but this could be amended by running 106 short-turns only between Wellington and Malden on the hour. Finally, and I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but the 99 terminates at an ABANDONED HOSPITAL. WHYYYYY?
Nearby and Noteworthy: Well...the abandoned hospital. Yes, it's insanely cool to explore, although the "No Trespassing" signs discouraged my friend Mariana and I from actually entering the building (despite the fact that one of the doors was open). But that doesn't mean the bus should run through the woods to serve it!
Final Verdict: 5/10
Yes, the 99 may get somewhat busy during rush hour (including passengers to an office park near the Boston Regional Medical Center), but other than that, it really doesn't need the level of service that it gets. IF the bus were to continue running on weekends, the Malden Family Health Center deviation could be axed and the bus could terminate at Molineaux Circle or close by. Honestly, though, this route doesn't need weekend service. The 106 does a fine job on its own, and additional short-turns on that route on Sundays would cover the loss of 99 service.
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