Monday, May 23, 2016

99 (Boston Regional Medical Center - Wellington Station via Main Street and Malden Center Station)

The MBTA runs a bus route to an abandoned hospital. I'm not sure if I made myself clear enough: THE MBTA RUNS A BUS ROUTE TO AN ABANDONED HOSPITAL. And I mean proper abandoned, like, falling apart and everything! The 99 is the culprit, and it all starts at Wellington Station...

The bus letting some people off at Wellington.
Leaving Wellington, we made our way out to Revere Beach Parkway, where traffic was thankfully light. We went on a bridge over the Malden River, and since this was a Saturday trip, we merged onto Mystic View Road to serve the Gateway Center mall. Thus, we circled around a big parking lot, picked up a few people, and headed back up the way we came.

That blotch on the window to the left ruined the picture!
We went back around the rotary and onto Revere Beach Parkway again. Eventually we reached another rotary, where we merged around up to Main Street, which was much narrower and lined with businesses and apartments. It was a pretty good mix, with some intersections offering lots of retail, while other times the surroundings were mostly residential.

Looking down Eastern Ave.
We passed a park, and soon after we entered Malden Center. For some reason, the 99 runs along the northern side of Malden heading outbound, so we continued past lots of businesses on Main Street. We then turned onto the wide Florence Street, going over a parking lot while passing apartment buildings and houses. The street curved south, but we bypassed the eastern busway at Malden Center, instead going under the Orange Line tracks and around to the other side.

The view of the parking lot.
Leaving the western busway, we headed up Summer Street, passing an apartment building and some businesses. We then turned onto Clifton Street, which was a local road lined with houses. Eventually, we reached a park, where we made two quick turns onto Highland Ave, then Savin Street.

Rounding the corner of the park.
We went by a cemetery, then the narrow street curved up and around a hill. The driver floored it past the houses lining the road until we twisted around to a parking lot for the Malden Family Health Center. This hospital wasn't abandoned, but it was under construction, so the driver swung around the parking lot and we headed all the way back to the park without any new passengers (although there was no one on the bus, anyway).

Ah, the Fellsway is such a nice road!
We turned back onto Highland Ave, continuing north this time. We went around a rotary at the Fellsway, and the street went up a slight hill, still lined with houses. This continued all the way up to Molineaux Circle, where there was a gas station, an apartment building, and a skating rink.

Another shot of the Fellsway! I'm sorry, it's just so nice.
Molineaux Circle also marked the end of civilization, except the bus just kept on going. We floored it down Woodland Road, which was an apt name - we were in the middle of the forest. Eventually, the bus pulled into a parking lot next to a huge building with peeling paint. Yes, it was the terminus at the Boston Regional Medical Center, closed since 1999.

Oh my, that's a decrepit stop...
The hospital used to have what probably was a decent bus shelter! However, by now, all but one of the glass windows has fallen out, and it's just kind of...there. It had a hard wooden bench with lots of graffiti everywhere, as well as a perpetually lit CFL light. Yet the bus stop pales in comparison to the rest of the hospital! I can put my pictures up on the blog if you guys want - they're pretty amazing.

The bus underneath the peeling paint of the first balcony.
Route: 99 (Boston Regional Medical Center - Wellington Station via Main Street and Malden Center Station)

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.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

2 comments:

  1. Hi! I grew up in Malden and live in Maine now, but that abondoned hospital up on the hill (Savin St.) used to be Malden Hospital and was a full-service health facility back when I was a kid. I always thought it was SO COOL how the bus would come down Clifton St., hang a L onto Highland Ave (around Amirige Park) and shoot up Savin St.! Back THEN, there was a nursing home up there, an E.R. and it was a fully staffed/fully functioning local medical center. Why, it even goes up there when there's NOTHING and NO ONE, I don't know. Maybe the bus picks up construction personnel during the week??? Not sure, but I read this and laughed to myself especially about the the part where you mention the "abandoned hospital!" LOL! The original bus route was called "99 Upper Highland" in those days, and even MORE WEIRD was that it ended maybe four blocks up Highland Avenue after it crossed the Fellsway, hung a U-turn and came back the same way it went OUT! LOL! But yeah...the Uppe Highland would just end in the middle of nowhere on Upper Highland Avenue! It still would go to Wellington Station tho, so that part remains the same! :-)

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  2. Forgot to mention: Upper Highland Avenue is the part of Highland Ave. AFTER you cross the Fellsway at East Border Rd. The part where the bus turns onto Savin Street after Clifton Street is just considered Highland Ave. The fact that it goes beyond where the original stop was on Upper Highland Avenue seems like a plus, but the MBTA could have just allowed the 100 (Elm St.) bus to head up to the BIG Medical Center on the Melrose/Stoneham line ANYway. The T makes NO sense whatsoEVER 1/2 the time. The person who designs the routes, probably has no friends either. LOL!

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