Wednesday, January 4, 2017

GATRA: Mayflower Link

Hooray, we're back on the GATRA! Oh boy oh boy, I can't wait for all the fantastic deviations and beautiful minibuses we're going to see! Well, I shan't delay any longer - today we're looking at the Mayflower Link, running from Plymouth to Manomet via the least direct route possible!

Welcome to GATRA's Plymouth hub!
GATRA's Plymouth routes are based out of a hub in the downtown area. Of course, "hub" is a loose term, as it's just a shelter and a wastebasket. That said, GATRA wants to TURN the area into a hub - just look at their grandiose (overblown?) plans for the stop!

Why can't we be on that MiDi in the background instead of this...minibus?
This minibus...it was one of the worst I had ever been on! For one thing, it had an uber-jiggly wheelchair lift that got annoying fast. Also...there was a stop request strip on the floor. Just kinda...hanging out. At one point I accidentally stepped on it and triggered the stop request. WHYYYYYYY?!

Ugh! Gross!
We headed down Memorial Drive, then turned onto Court Street. This took us through downtown Plymouth, with some very charming businesses on either side. According to Google Maps, the route is supposed to deviate to serve - ahem - Plymouth Rock. Luckily, we just stayed on Court Street. I really hope Google Maps is wrong there, because that would be the stupidest deviation ever!

A dense side street.
Eventually we went onto a small bridge over a creek leading through some lovely-looking gardens. We passed a little common soon after, and it became more residential. Our road became Sandwich Street, but then we turned onto the narrower South Street, which was lined with houses.

Some houses along South Street.
Other points of interest besides the residential neighborhoods included a random auto shop and a small park. All in quick succession later on, we passed a housing development, a nursing home, and a library. And soon after that, it started to get more commercialized, with a small shopping plaza opposite another housing development.

Welcome to the oldest town in Massachusetts...
We went under Route 3, then after passing a small solar farm, we made a rather strange deviation to serve a Plymouth and Brockton park-and-ride. There are definitely noble intentions here, but without proper advertising, I don't think too many people are gonna be hoppin' the Mayflower Link to get into town. Also, it's too bad the GATRA doesn't at all time with P&B arrivals - passengers might have to wait a very long time for a bus. What I'm saying here is that this deviation is basically pointless.

That's a lot of people that didn't take the GATRA!
We returned to what was now called Long Pond Road, and we were in serious parking lot land. Malls to the left! Malls to the right! It got slightly more industrial for a bit, then we deviated to serve some ancient-looking medical center.

Like I said...oldest town in Massachusetts!
From there, we headed down Camelot Drive for a bit, then ran through the parking lot for a rather large mall: the Grove at Plymouth. This took us back to Long Pond Road, where we retraced our steps for quite a ways - not until we crossed under Route 3 again did we finally go somewhere new! That was when we turned onto Obery Street, passing a farm right next to a giant modern courthouse.

A senior center...oh wait, and a high school. Who thought that was a good idea?
We made yet another deviation after that, serving a Beth Israel hospital. We made our way to Sandwich Street from there, which was lined with houses. At a rather nice historical town center-looking place (featuring a country store and a church), we merged onto River Street.

This is really nice!
This took us to one of the strangest and most unnecessary deviations I've ever seen: we served Plimoth Plantation. Yeah, okay, because GATRA gets so much ridership from tourists. Look, I'm sorry, but without proper advertising, this deviation is just a waste of time. Even if there was advertising, I imagine it would only work on some sort of tourist route from the Commuter Rail to here, rather than a deviation-filled mess that only runs from downtown Plymouth.

That's how people get to Plimoth Plantation!
Admittedly, Plymouth Plantation is on the way of the route - an indirect route, mind you, but on the way, regardless. We made our way to Warren Ave, which came right up along the ocean! We passed a small hotel and some fancy beach houses for a bit, then merged onto State Road via a grade-separated interchange.

No one's on the beach today...
We came pretty close to a country club and passed by houses for a bit, but then the scenery became complete forest. I mean, literally nothing but trees. We did pass by a random boat place at one point, but yeah, it was all trees for quite a while. Finally, after going under some telephone wires, we arrived back in civilization.

Aww, yeah, how 'bout that rear window shot?
We reached some businesses at the next intersection. By this point, we were fairly close to the terminus, but first we had to make a really long deviation that barely serves anything! So, we turned onto Beaver Dam Road, running past some houses, then alongside an admittedly pretty marsh. There were some more houses beyond there, as well as a farm with some proper animals!

What a valuable deviation. These horses definitely need the bus.
And then, abruptly, the bus pulled over. And...started reversing? Yes, the method of turning around at the end of this deviation is apparently the time-honored three-point turn...which seems like just the most GATRA way of ending a deviation, doesn't it? Ah, well, so we headed back the way we came for a while...

There's a nice view, at least...
Finally, we returned to State Road and crossed over onto White Horse Road. This street was mostly residential, with a few parks here and there as well. The houses got denser and denser until we curved right onto Taylor Ave, which once again ran right alongside the ocean!

Another water view! Wow, I wasn't expecting this route to be so scenic!
After some condo buildings, we turned back inland on Manomet Point Road. This street was residential, too, though much less dense. Eventually, we came across some shopping plazas, including the terminus of the route: Stop & Shop. Wow, that was quite a trip!

GATRA would like to apologize to any cars who were hoping to park in those spaces...
GATRA Route: Mayflower Link

Ridership: Hey, for a GATRA route, ridership isn't bad. The Mayflower Link gets about 125 riders per weekday and a little over 90 riders per Saturday. That's about 6-7 people per trip, which sounds terrible, but...well, it's a GATRA route.

Pros: The route definitely serves a lot, covering much of the eastern section of Plymouth. It runs as frequent as any GATRA route should, with every-hour service weekdays and Saturdays.

Cons: This route makes so many deviations. I mean, come on, some of these are ridiculous! Plimoth Plantation? The Plymouth and Brockton park-and-ride that doesn't coordinate with any trips? Whatever the heck that long deviation with the livestock was? Okay, so a lot of people take this thing out to the end to get to that plaza out there - how about we play the driving vs. taking the bus game?


Wow. So even with Google Maps' longest suggestion, the bus still takes twice as long as driving! People say that taking the bus is slow, but this is just ridiculous! On a side note, Google Maps drew the route slightly wrong, but I'm not sure if that's their fault or GATRA's.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Well, you can't deny that Plimoth Plantation is a big attraction! I still think it's stupid that this route deviates to serve it, but if you have a lot of time, this could be your way of getting there.

Final Verdict: 5/10
Ech, this route just takes so long! And sure, it definitely serves a lot, but some of these deviations are just ridiculous. I understand that the route's primary ridership is seniors, and that they often need direct service to places, but oftentimes no one even uses these deviations! If they had some sort of call-in service to "request" deviations, I'm sure the bus could be sped up significantly.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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