Sunday, September 4, 2016

GATRA: 8 (East Taunton/Raynham Walmart)

*TRUMPET BLASTS* WELCOME...TO THE BUSIEST ROUTE ON THE GATRA! BOW BEFORE ITS GREATNESS! GAZE IN AWE UPON ITS MANY DEVIATIONS! I INTRODUCE TO YOU...THE 8!

The bus at Walmart.
What's more, the bus it was using was a shiny new New Flyer MiDi, which was great to see! On board this beautiful bus, we left Walmart, already with a good amount of people on board, and headed down Paramount Drive. It was office park land until we made our way to South Street East, which was more residential (although we also went by a gigantic Buddhist temple).

Leaving onto Paramount Drive.
As we crossed the Taunton River, we passed an old factory converted into condominiums, then went over a railroad crossing. It was at this point that the street became Old Colony Ave and the houses got denser - we were in Taunton. There were some businesses as we turned onto Middleboro Ave, but it soon went back to being residential.

A little pizza shop.
After passing a lot of identical houses as part of a development, we reached the intersection with Caswell Street, which housed a few businesses. Middleboro Ave curved north, and we crossed another level crossing with a train track. After that, we turned onto Stevens Street, which went over the train track on a bridge.

A residential side street.
The street was lined with houses, although we also passed a church at one point. Eventually, though, the road widened and there were office parks on both sides. Next, we turned onto County Street, entering the ridiculously long Silver City Galleria deviation. It required looping around the whole complex, with stops at Bertucci's, the main entrance, and Bristol Community College.

A view of the mall.
From there, we headed onto...the highway? Yes, the 8 actually has a short express portion on Route 140! However, after the next exit, it became a regular road, and we turned onto Mozzone Boulevard after another railroad level crossing. The scenery? Businesses with parking lots and office parks.

NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT THE T-REX!
Next, we turned onto Allison Ave, which led us to a deviation into a small shopping plaza, Taunton Depot. After that, we made our way back onto Route 140 (County Street), going by some housing developments. There were a few businesses at "Hart's Four Corners", which is considered a major stop on the route. Here, we turned onto Hart Street.

A liquor shop.
At this point, the route got interesting. You see, our trip was scheduled to be a school trip, running up to the Taunton High School. But school wasn't in session during my ride, so of course GATRA wouldn't deviate to serve it right? Right? HAHAHAHA, NOPE. WE TURNED ONTO JOHNSON STREET, HEADIN' UP ON TOWARDS THE SCHOOL!

Some houses.
Johnson Street was mostly residential, but we did see some retail as we crossed County Street. We went under some telephone wires, then merged back into County Street, which was also residential by this point. From there, we left the road and headed up towards the high school. Wanna guess how many people we picked up? ZERO. NO REALLY, I'M NOT LYING! PRETTY HARD TO BELIEVE, BUT IT'S TRUE.

What's this? The empty parking lot for the school? Gee, if cars have the sense not to come here in the summer, why not GATRA?
From that incredibly busy deviation, we headed back to County Street, which crossed over the Taunton River. At this point, we rejoined the regular route...in the wrong direction. That's right, we had to head down Ingell Street like an outbound bus in order to serve a residential neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, this would make perfect sense if the bus had students on it, but...it didn't. BECAUSE IT'S SUMMER.

Going over the Taunton River.
Ingell Street was lined with houses for a bit, then it became industrial. We went over yet another railroad level crossing, and reached some businesses as we turned onto Weir Street. There were some houses, a big factory, and another railroad crossing, then it became residential with some businesses sprinkled in. 

What a lovely...um...lot.
Weir Street led us into downtown Taunton, where retail abounded, of course. Now, for some reason, the inbound 8 deviates to serve the Taunton "Historic Courthouse" and I have no idea why - no other GATRA routes do this. Regardless, it meant turning onto Court Street, going by deserted buildings and parking lots. Finally, we turned onto Washington Street, and after one final level crossing with a railroad, we entered the Bloom Bus Terminal.

The bus setting out on another outbound journey.
GATRA Route: 8 (East Taunton/Raynham Walmart)

Ridership: Like I said, this is GATRA's busiest route, so prepare for astronomically high numbers. Are you ready for this? About 315 people per weekday and 190 per Saturday. WOOOOOOOWWWWWWW. My trip got about 15 people, which is simply huge for GATRA! I mean...crazy!

Pros: It's a GATRA route that people use! That alone is incredible! It's also the only full route to serve the southeastern part of Taunton (the 3 is rush hour only), including some busy malls. It has that classic GATRA schedule of every hour Monday-Saturday, and it works.

Cons: Some of those deviations can feel too long, but I guess if they get people, there's nothing wrong with them. And, uh, yeah, I guess that's it for the cons. OH WAIT YEAH WHY THE HECK DID WE SERVE THE SCHOOL IN THE SUMMER?

Nearby and Noteworthy: A lot of people use this route for shopping, and you can too! If you really want to go all the way out to Taunton, of course...

Final Verdict: 8/10
Ayyyyyy, the 8 gets an 8! Honestly, it's really the ridership that sells it for me, since it gets so much more than any other GATRA route (about 100 more riders than the second-busiest route, the 10). The 8 may be a windy crazy trip, but hey - at least it gets people! But you know where we got no people? Oh yeah, THE SCHOOL. Only GATRA would serve a freaking school in the middle of summer...

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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