Saturday, July 2, 2016

37 (Baker and Vermont Streets - Forest Hills Station via Belgrade Ave and Center Street)

Being on an almost-empty bus during rush hour is an interesting experience. However, this seems to happen a lot with the Belgrade Ave routes from Forest Hills. Since the crowds for them are timed with train arrivals, the buses operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. The 37 happened to come after a few other Belgrade routes that came after a train arrival, so as you can imagine, it was rather quiet inside.

"Via" Baker and Vermont? What madness is this?
But I wasn't satisfied with taking a regular 37 trip. No, I had to do one of the rare, six-times-per-day weekday runs that gets extended to Corey and LaGrange! What madness awaited at the end of the route? My pal Nathan and I had to find out! But, uh, first we had to travel down Washington Street like every other Upper Busway route from Forest Hills...

I had forgotten my camera SD card on my trip, so most pictures had to be taken with Nathan's phone. This is one such picture, taken of the practically empty bus.
You know the drill here. It was a industrial for a bit, but then the street became lined with apartments and the occasional business. We went by a field, and then there was retail everywhere, for we had arrived at Roslindale Village. Turning onto South Street and then Belgrade Ave, we went by the Roslindale Village Commuter Rail station.

Gotta love them auto shops. This is another phone picture
The street was mostly residential, aside from businesses at major intersections. There was a particularly noteworthy retail block at Bellevue Station, and it continued as we turned onto Center Street. The street was lined with businesses as we went by Highland Station, and they went on all the way until when we turned onto LaGrange Street, starting the independent section.

Another phone picture of a stop outside of a CVS.
We went under West Roxbury Station, and LaGrange Street was all residential from there. Eventually, we turned onto Vermont Street. There were a few businesses at the end, where we turned onto Baker Street, joining the 52 for a bit. However, we turned onto Lasell Street soon after, which was once again lined with houses.

The intersection of Lagrange and Vermont (and Addington), taken from Nathan's phone.
But now it was time for the extended portion of the route! Instead of looping back around, we turned north on Lagrange, crossing VFW Parkway. From there, the street had a cemetery on one side and houses on the other. And then, uh...then it became woods. Like, just woods. And then we reached the intersection of Corey and LaGrange, where the bus made this really sharp curve onto Corey Street - it was practically a u-turn! And just like that, we were at the final stop, and the bus took off.

Wait...where the heck are we?
This stop...this stop was essentially the middle of nowhere. I mean, it was on this little scrap of sidewalk in the middle of the woods, with some random substation buzzing away behind it. And while Nathan and I were walking back to Highland Station, a caterpillar landed on my bag and got stuck! I mean, clearly we were way out in the boondocks. But anyway...stay tuned for Highland!

What the heck is this stop?! (picture courtesy of Nathan's phone)
Route: 37 (Baker and Vermont Streets - Forest Hills Station via Belgrade Ave and Center Street)

Ridership: The 37 has the lowest ridership of the Belgrade Ave routes, probably due to its short independent section. It gets 1,593 riders per weekday and exactly 1,000 riders per Saturday, both of which are about average for the MBTA. Of course, my ride had a total of four people, including me and Nathan. This was at rush hour, people!

Pros: The best thing I can say about the 37 is that it provides extra service to Belgrade Ave. Its schedule is inconsistent in the morning (about every 20 minutes or so), but in the evening, it's a solid 15 minute headway, which is great. As for the rest of the schedule, it makes sense based on the ridership, with the route running every 40 minutes midday and every 35 minutes Saturdays, with no Sunday service.

Cons: The problem is that the route doesn't have much to offer on its own. I mean, the 35 offers a sizeable independent section, while the 36 has reverse commuters going to the Rivermoor Industrial Park. The 37, on the other hand? I mean, it's got a little residential loop and that's it. Also, the Corey and LaGrange extension seems pretty pointless. No one went out there, and it only runs six trips per day, anyway.

Nearby and Noteworthy: On the independent section, all you'll find is houses. I mean...yeah, that's about it.

Final Verdict: 4/10
Yes, the 37 definitely serves its purpose along Belgrade Ave, and if a trip is timed right, it can get a bunch of people. But how many of them actually go to the route's independent section? Let's face it, most of the 37's ridership is purely for the Belgrade Ave section and nothing else. And the Corey and LaGrange trips? I mean, they're basically the middle of nowhere! I think they're meant to serve a few housing developments that are sort of nearby, but if no one uses the trips, then there's not much point in running them.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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