Friday, November 25, 2016

424/424W (Eastern Ave and Essex Street - Haymarket Station or Wonderland Station via Highland Ave)

This is probably one of the strangest Lynn express routes, partly because it's only an express in the evening! That's right, the 424 only runs from downtown during the evening rush; in the morning rush, it gets cut back to Wonderland as the 424W. I took the full evening rush route, so we have a long trip ahead of us!

The bus at Haymarket.
We left the Haymarket busway and did the whole loop-the-loop shazam to get around onto I-93, then we took the exit into the Callahan Tunnel. I've always liked the Callahan and Sumner Tunnels, if only because they don't have that typical Big Dig-style tiling on the walls. We came out of the tunnel in East Boston, curving around up onto an elevated structure.

Wow, what a...great view...
After going by Airport Station on the highway, the view got a lot more industrial. Also, the road stopped being a "highway" pretty soon after that, and we started passing stops. However, the nice thing about the 424 is that it doesn't make the weird stops out here that the other express routes make, so that's a small plus (although I imagine very few people use the stops to begin with).

Oh nooooooooo...
We passed that point where the 120 joins the express routes for a block on its Waldemar loop, and then we went through more industrial wasteland (in heavy rush-hour traffic, of course). Mixed in with the huge random vats were some sketchy airport-related businesses. Next, the highway curved its way into Bell Circle, which is where we started making stops along with the other routes.

This area is so pretty and scenic, isn't it? NO.
The road entered some form of residential neighborhood, although the nature of the road certainly didn't make the area feel like a "neighborhood". Also, as we curved west, it got industrial once more before we merged onto Salem Turnpike at a rotary. This is always the best part of any Lynn express trip, where the bus gets to just zoom through open marshland at top speed!

Oh hey, it's a building!
The marshland was broken by a gigantic factory, then we crossed over a river into Lynn. The area was entirely industrial for a bit, including the MBTA West Lynn Garage, but eventually, the road (now called Western Ave) became lined with houses and businesses. Near a fire station, at the intersection with Market Square, a few routes turned off to serve Central Square, but we just stayed on Western Ave, whose scenery was still pretty similar.

Going by Lynn Garage.
We passed a Super Stop & Shop, and after that the surroundings became more residential. We did go by a baseball field at one point, and there were retail and industrial buildings at certain intersections, but it was houses for the most part. Finally, we reached Eastern Ave and turned onto it, breaking away from the 450 at last. Was it a unique section? No, we were running with the 456 now, but it was nice to have a change of scenery.

A side street from Eastern Ave.
Of course, "change of scenery" is a moot point, since the surroundings were essentially the same. We were still going by mostly houses, with the occasional businesses at some intersections. The difference was that it was a narrower, quieter street, and the bus was basically empty by this point. And then, at a random street stop...that was it. Last stop! Okay...

Welp...see ya.
Route: 424/424W (Eastern Ave and Essex Street - Haymarket Station or Wonderland Station via Highland Ave)

Ridership: Although the route only gets an average of 258 riders per day, you have to keep in mind that since it's rush hour only, the ridership per trip is much higher. My ride had about 25 people on board, most of whom got off along the shared section with the 450.

Pros: I don't have too much to say here, actually. Its role as a supplement to the 450 is good, as is the commuter-oriented schedule - five trips in the morning and four in the evening, spaced about half an hour apart.

Cons: Why the heck doesn't the route go downtown in the morning? Or conversely, why the heck doesn't the route start at Wonderland in the evening? Bottom line: BE CONSISTENT. My main gripe in this regard is if you have a commuter that relies on the 424W, perhaps for the lower fares. Well, what are they supposed to do in the evening? They have to pay the inner express fare on the 424 from downtown (which is kind of a joke anyway, considering the route is barely "express" once across the harbor), or take the 455 from Wonderland and change buses. Now isn't that a pain??

Nearby and Noteworthy: Do you like sketchy Lynn businesses? Great! There are plenty along here.

Final Verdict: 4/10
I like the 424's concept: it provides extra supplementary service to the 450. Great. However, its inconsistency between the morning and the evening rushes drives me crazy! Here's my proposal: just run all 424 buses to Wonderland. This would allow for a low-cost alternative for commuters who live along the 450 route, plus the shorter route could free up a few buses for the other packed Lynn routes. Win-win, I say!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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