Saturday, November 5, 2016

WRTA: Paxton Shuttle (Anna Maria College - Union Station Hub via Paxton Square and Tatnuck Square)

Okay, show of hands, who's ever heard of Paxton, Massachusetts? No one? Okay, good. I hadn't heard of it either until my friend Nathan pointed out that the WRTA has a bus that runs there...but only on Wednesdays and Fridays. Well, whaddayaknow, we had a free Wednesday off from school! So let's ride this really strangely scheduled Paxton Shuttle...

The bus (if you can call it that) at Union Station.
Keep in mind that Nathan and I had to run to make this bus, having departed the chronically late MART Worcester Shuttle. We had assumed the bus would board in the actual WRTA Central Hub at Union Station, since the schedule says "Union Station Hub" like any other WRTA route. But...no, turns out it boards outside the Central Hub, on Foster Street. And the bus has no signage, so we had to ask the driver to make sure it was the right route.

The inside of the vehicle.
Of course, calling this a "bus" is a bit of a joke, since it had literally six seats. That's right, it was basically a "The Ride" vehicle! Indeed, I'll bet it is just a dial-a-ride vehicle that happens to do a fixed route once in a while. It was really strange...

Awwww yeah, rear-view shot!
We turned onto Front Street, which took us into downtown Worcester. One side of the street had the Worcester Common, while the other side was lined with multi-story buildings. We passed City Hall, then continued onto Pleasant Street, following the 2. Now, there are two things to note here: number one is that the Paxton Shuttle is supposed to follow the 6's route, but I guess we...weren't doing that? The other thing is that the route operates closed-door in Worcester, so it makes no stops - I guess that means it doesn't matter what route it takes, then.

A side street.
The street became a mix of businesses, houses, and apartments as it coasted down a hill. There were also some churches and a small park in the mix. After we crossed Park Ave, though, Pleasant Street became entirely residential, with woods on the other side!

Goin' around a small rotary.
We arrived at a roundabout, and Pleasant Street continued to be lined with houses beyond, now on both sides of the road. There were, however, some nice-looking local businesses at the intersection with Richmond Ave. After many more houses, we finally arrived in Tatnuck Square, where there were varied retail buildings. This is the Paxton Shuttle's only other stop in Worcester.

Some businesses in Tatnuck Square.
We continued down Pleasant Street, which rose up on a slight hill and started to feel rather woodsy. The spread-out houses we passed were huge, but they got a bit smaller as we entered a denser neighborhood, even passing a few businesses. Finally, we entered Paxton and began the route's unique section!

Blurry houses along Pleasant Street.
The scenery was quite nice along here, with the road curving around small houses on either side. It was basically all residential, aside from a few farms here and there. And...yeah, that was about it for this part of the journey. Most of the houses were natural, but at one point the road went through a more developed neighborhood where the residences were all the same.

Woah, check out that lens flare!
Eventually, the houses were finally broken, as we passed the nice public safety complex of Paxton, containing both fire and police vehicles. This area also featured an industrial garage, a Dunkin' Donuts, an animal hospital, and a fitness club. A little later, there were some businesses and a lovely town common in Paxton Center.

Paxton Town Common.
We turned onto Maple Street, taking us over hills and past beautiful trees and more houses. Next, we turned onto Grove Street, which was a less charming road due to its wideness. Finally, we headed onto Sunset Lane, which took us into the campus of Anna Maria College, the last stop of the route.

The bus at the college.
It's worth noting that on the way back, we actually made an extra deviation that doesn't appear in the schedule or on the map! It was pretty soon after leaving the college; we turned off of Grove Street in order to serve The Hills at Paxton Village, an apartment development. It was a strange deviation involving reversing the bus multiple times (despite an easy loop right in front of the building), but eventually we were on our way back to Worcester again.

Another shot at the college.
WRTA Route: Paxton Shuttle (Anna Maria College - Union Station Hub via Paxton Square and Tatnuck Square)

Ridership: The driver gave some very showing statistics for this route's ridership: "I get five people per day - four students and one professor." So basically, this shuttle is utilized by the same five people from Anna Maria College every day, meaning one person per round trip (this held true for us, with one person going from Anna Maria to Worcester). And keep in mind that the route only runs Wednesdays and Fridays, so it's only about 40 people per month!

Pros: The route is very useful...for five people. The same five people. Twice a week. Hmm...

Cons: Oh come on, does this route really need to exist? Paxton is such a tiny town, and a bus that only runs twice a week, five trips per day, really isn't helping anyone. Except for...five people, I guess. I mean, if they really want to increase ridership on this thing, how about giving it consistent service, seven days a week? You know, like a normal bus route.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Paxton Center was nice enough, I guess, but I doubt it would be able to hold anyone's interest for more than half an hour...

Final Verdict: 1/10
It is a rather pleasant ride, don't get me wrong, but this bus just seems so useless. I mean, who would be affected if they cut it? Just...four students and one professor. Gosh...knowing who these people are gives me such a personal connection to them...maybe they should keep this route around!

Oh wait, a route with 5 riders per day is ridiculous. CUT IT!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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