|The bus coming into "downtown" Norfolk.|
|Oh, of course the weed-ridden industrial building was the stop! Duh!|
|This is such a weird stop...|
|Um...that is a prison. We are serving a prison right now.|
|Look, they even have a nice little bench and a logo on the sign! THIS ROUTE HAS POTENTIAL, GATRA!|
|A bridge near the prison.|
|A clock in downtown Norfolk.|
|The mall, with the stadium in the background|
|This was actually my first time seeing Gillette, and it's a beauty!|
|A woodsy intersection.|
|A restaurant in Wrentham.|
From the parking lot, we turned onto South Street, which seemed to be the main drag of Wrentham. It had some nice business blocks on one side, with more parking-oriented retail on the other. Eventually we left the center, and the street was now lined with houses. We turned onto Creek Street, and then entered the Liberty Pines development, where we picked up...a passenger! Wow!
We headed back onto Creek Street, which was mostly residential, aside from another apartment and a place meant for wedding functions. Eventually, we made it to Franklin Street, which continued to be residential. However, we soon passed an industrial complex, then a country club. There were houses for just a bit more after that, but soon we reached the Big Y, the terminus of the route (where one can also make a connection to the GATRA's Franklin Area Bus).
|Some random office.|
However, because these drivers were really nice, we got a direct ride to Franklin Station because that's where we were ultimately heading! Thus, we continued down Franklin Street, which had a quick residential section, then we entered Franklin Center. The driver let us out on Main Street, just outside the station, and then drove off to rejoin the regular route.
|The Tri-Town Connector in downtown Franklin is a unique occurrence indeed.|
GATRA Route: Tri-Town Connector
Ridership: The route is new enough so that the GATRA doesn't have ridership data on it yet. However, by the driver's estimate, it gets about 25 people per day. That's, um...quite very small. To be honest, I was surprised to see even one other person get on.
Pros: This route really serves a lot! It's the only consistent bus service in Norfolk, Wrentham, and Foxboro, and it's the only way of getting to attractions like Patriot Place or that prison by public transportation (hey, apparently people use it to get to the prison, so I'm calling it a ridership draw). The schedule is...inconsistent, but it's anywhere from every 70 minutes to every 120 minutes, Monday through Saturday. Most trips are timed with outbound trains from Boston, though, so that can be helpful.
Cons: On an MBTA route, I might be complaining about the schedule here, but honestly, the infrequency of the route is perfect since nobody uses it. Get some advertising at Norfolk and at the very least some signs, particularly at Patriot Place. That's by far the longest deviation on the route, and if no one is using the bus from there, then it's really a waste of time for other riders who are just passing through.
Nearby and Noteworthy: I think Patriot Place is the biggest attraction along the route, and it seems like a pretty decent mall. You can't use the route to get to football games, unfortunately, since it doesn't run to that area on game days (probably due to traffic), but you could still visit the stadium on a non-game day if you wanted to.
Final Verdict: 5/10
I really don't like this GATRA trend of running pretty decent routes, but not letting anyone know about their existence. According to the driver, no one used this route for the whole first year it was open! And even now, it still gets very low ridership. This would be a useful connection for residents of Norfolk and Wrentham...if only they knew about it.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates