Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WRTA: 11 (Union Station Hub - The Fair Plaza via Vernon Hill and Greenwood Street)

I'm not trying to stereotype, but...are all WRTA drivers really mean? I mean, Nathan and I tried to go to the end and back from Walmart on the 11 twice. The first time, the driver wouldn't even let us on, so we ended up on the 1 instead; we were able to do it the second time (with a lot of sass), but we got a lot of flak for it. Here is the fruits of our labor...

The bus at the end of the route.
At its terminus, although the route loops through The Fair Plaza to turn around, it doesn't actually let passengers off in there - they have to board at street stops. I'll, uh, save this for the "Cons" section. Anyway, we headed up Greenwood Street, which was mostly residential aside from a few offices here and there.

The stop where passengers have to get on; the mall is behind me.
Next, we turned onto Spofford Road, which was entirely residential. This led us to Upland Gardens Road, taking us through Autumn Woods, an apartment development. We turned onto Upland Street after that, which went up a steep hill past trees and houses.

A residential side street.
Upland Street eventually led us back to Greenwood Street, which was industrial for a little while. Soon, though, it became a dense, varied neighborhood. There were apartments, businesses, and other different kinds of buildings all along the road. After a school and some more retail, we turned onto the wide McKeon Road, then Tobias Boland Way.

Going over train tracks on McKeon Road.
This took us to Walmart, where we picked up some passengers. Next, we turned onto a road in the middle of its parking lot, serving the second stop in the complex. After that, we made our way around the back of Walmart, back up to McKeon Road, over Route 146, and up Providence Street.

Looking down a hill.
We went under some telephone wires and past a residential development, then it became mostly dense apartments, which continued as we turned onto Upsala Street. As we went over a hill, we also passed a school in between the residences, then we turned onto Vernon Street. This took us on a downward slope past dense houses and a few businesses.

Another hill!
We passed the Vernon Medical Center and a church soon after, but it was still mostly dense apartments. After going over I-290, the road became Green Street, and it was suddenly almost all retail. We went under the Commuter Rail tracks, then made our final turn onto Foster Street, which took us to the WRTA Central Hub.

The bus that wouldn't let us on, back at Walmart...
WRTA Route: 11 (Union Station Hub - The Fair Plaza via Vernon Hill and Greenwood Street)

Ridership: This is one of four contenders in WRTA's "1,000 Riders Club," boasting the fourth-highest ridership on the system, with 1,108 per weekday. On my ride, there was strong ridership from shoppers, as well as local residents in some of the neighborhoods.

Pros: The 11 serves a lot of southern Worcester, including some very dense residential areas and some desirable shopping areas. It also does so with surprising frequency for WRTA standards, running every half hour on weekdays and every hour on weekends. It's also great that the ridership turnover is so good, with people getting on and off along the whole route.

Cons: I'm not one to suggest a deviation, but directly serving The Fair Plaza would be way more convenient than the current street stop...not to mention the route goes in there to turn around! I mean, come on, really? Common sense! Put a stop in there! I'm also a little dubious about the every-hour schedule on Saturdays; I could see it getting pretty crowded with headways like that.

Nearby and Noteworthy: This route takes about the same amount of time to get to Walmart as the 4 (maybe a few minutes slower at most), but it's a lot more frequent.

Final Verdict: 8/10
Despite the mean drivers giving me an initial bad impression of the 11, it ended up being a great route! It's generally frequent, although it perhaps could stand to run more often on Saturdays, and it serves a lot of Worcester. Although come on, put a darn stop in The Fair Plaza already and stop inconveniencing people!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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