Friday, September 8, 2017

448/449 (Marblehead - Downtown Crossing via Paradise Road or Humphrey Street, Lynnway, and Airport)

My very first review was of the 459. My second-to-last MBTA review will be of its counterparts, the 448 and 449. The funny thing is that I took the 449 over a year ago, but I just didn't want to review it until I had the 448 done and I could do both in one post! Well...it's finally time. Let's do this.

There were a few 7's blocking the actual stop...
That's a problematic destination sign! I think it's still like that on that bus...
I'll be documenting the 448 trip primarily, since I took that one, you know, yesterday. I would say the trip started off great: the bus arrived 20 minutes late. Awesome! The driver told us to hurry on, then we accelerated our way bit by bit onto Summer Street. Traffic was far more plentiful than the narrow streets could handle, and it was slow-going.

Downtown streets.
Summer Street got a heck of a lot wider as we crossed Atlantic Ave and the Greenway, then we stopped outside of South Station. We were about to cross over the Summer Street bridge, but at the last second we turned onto Dorchester Ave. Next, we made our way onto the Congress Street Bridge, featuring the Boston Tea Party Museum right in the middle of its span.

Goodbye, Summer Street!
After the Fort Point Channel had been crossed, we entered the neighborhood of the same name. There were lots of brick buildings everywhere, then Congress Street widened and we were surrounded by...parking lots. Yeah, the switch from Fort Point to the Seaport District is a sudden one. We turned onto B Street, then Seaport Boulevard, which went by the World Trade Center.

Crossing Congress Street.
We turned onto D Street, then we went by the Silver Line portal and turned onto Massport Haul Road. This took us around into the I-90 tunnel, although we did come up for air briefly...then it was into the Ted Williams Tunnel. Under the harbor we go!

Heading onto the highway.
We popped out of the tunnel and curved our way around onto Airport Road, passing two bunched and crowded SL1's in the process. Bypassing Terminals A and B, we finally made our way into Terminal C, where someone actually got on! From there, we skipped Terminal E and returned to I-90, which ran up onto an elevated viaduct next to the Blue Line tracks.

Planes!
The highway became Route 1A, but we were only elevated for a little while longer. Eventually we came back down to ground level and the road became McClellan Highway, famous for playing host to the ugliest buildings in America! Woah! From awful billboards to dreary Logan Airport parking lots to run-down industrial wastelands to the most out-of-place Starbucks ever, McClellan Highway has it all.

Oh, and traffic. Did I mention traffic?
We went by a lot of big mysterious vats, then the road went over Winthrop Ave and the Newburyport/Rockport Line tracks. After a long wait in some truly horrific traffic, we arrived at the Bell Circle Rotary. (Aren't rotaries supposed to alleviate congestion??) Here, we merged onto VFW Parkway, which went over the tracks again and past an abandoned building and a really dead-looking shopping plaza.

This diner has seen better days...
There was more traffic at the next rotary, but eventually we were able to weave our way around into Wonderland Station. It had taken us 40 minutes to get this far. Coming from the South Station area, it would only take about 25-30 minutes on the Blue Line. Even from the World Trade Center, it would still take about the same amount of time as us, 40 minutes, on the Blue Line. I'm starting to see a problem with this route...

It wouldn't be this crowded if we were right behind a 441 or 442!
Now we headed up North Shore Road, which was at first residential with a few businesses. However, there was also lots of marshland between the buildings, offering either terrific open views, including a train heading north, or awful views of the backs of apartments - depends on what side you sit on. The further we went, the more industrial the road got, at least until the Point of Pines neighborhood where it got residential again.

Some houses in the marsh.
Luckily, we didn't have to do that annoying Point of Pines deviation that the 441/442 does. In fact, the 448/449 runs express between Wonderland and Lynn, so we didn't have to make any of the stops that the 441/442 does! We went over a bridge into Lynn, where there were a few gigantic businesses and a lot of industrial buildings.

A view!
As the wide Lynnway continued north, it basically just got entirely industrial. It, uh, kinda took a while to go away, but eventually we came up alongside the water and turned onto Market Street. Next, we turned onto the Lynn Busway, right next to the Commuter Rail station, then we made our way up Union Street and turned onto Exchange Street.

Downtown Lynn.
Exchange Street merged into Broad Street, featuring a mixture of dense houses, apartments, and businesses. Eventually, it became Lewis Street and we passed what looked like an abandoned elementary school, or at least a very run-down one. The house-business mix continued as we entered Swampscott and came about a block away from the ocean.

So close!!!
Unfortunately, the 448 doesn't go by the ocean, preferring to go inland on New Ocean Street. It soon became Paradise Road, but the scenery stayed the same: dense houses lining the street. There was an elementary school and a park, then some industrial buildings after a line of telephone wires.

Houses on a side street.
It started to get more hilly and rocky, although not in any kind of exciting or scenic way. We went by a few big apartment complexes, then there were a few barebones shopping plazas and businesses with parking lots. This was "Vinnin Square," but it wasn't much of a square at all, and it was, in fact, pretty ugly and boring.

Yup, there it is.
We turned briefly onto Vinnin Street, then made another quick turn onto Salem Street. We passed through a golf course, then there were some fairly dense houses alongside the road. Once we reached Humphrey Street, we turned onto it, rejoining the 442 and 449.

Tee up!
Of course, I need to talk about the 449's unique section, too, so we'll go back to Ocean Street briefly for that. That route does go by the ocean, and it goes right by the ocean. It runs along Humphrey Street with water on one side and houses and businesses on the other side, and it's really scenic.

NICEEEEEEEE!!!!
After a nice section along a beach, though, that was it - we were inland again. It was mostly houses, but we did also pass a police station and a park. The houses got a little bigger and more spread out as Humphrey Street curved north, and once we hit Salem Street, we were joined by the other routes. Back to the 448! Well, technically still both of them, but you know what I mean.

How's about one more view before we go inland again?
Humphrey Street was almost entirely houses, aside from the one-off retail building on occasion. There was also a church and a school, but not all that much else until we merged onto Pleasant Street, where there was...another church and another school. It was still mostly residential, but now we also passed a rail trail, a fire station, and yet another school.

Lotsa houses.
There was a small shopping plaza soon after, though, and then we entered Marblehead Center! Of course, there were businesses everywhere. Pleasant Street turned one-way beyond there, and it got very narrow with really dense houses on either side. There was even more retail when we turned onto Washington Street.

Marblehead is so charming!
Washington Street was just historical houses that were really close together, and the street was so narrow that cars had to pull over to let us by. Finally, we turned onto Franklin Street, arriving at the lovely terminus at the Marblehead Fire House. There was a 442 waiting right there, so after a bit of a wait for it to actually open the doors, we hopped on board and headed home.

Darn it...the bus changed to a 441!
At least we've still got the 449, albeit still with that horrible destination sign.
I love this terminus!
Route: 448/449 (Marblehead - Downtown Crossing via Paradise Road or Humphrey Street, Lynnway, and Airport)

Ridership: Okay, I'm not gonna lie and say that these routes don't get a lot of ridership, considering how many trips they have: the 448 gets 176 people per day, while the 449 gets 158. HOWEVER, these numbers don't take into account how many people actually ride this thing from Boston. You see, on both my trips, the express ridership was tiny. I can't remember what it was on the 449, but it was a measly five people on the 448. Sure, 20 extra passengers boarded at Wonderland, but they could've just as easily waited for a 441 or 442 that plies the exact same route.

Pros: The big draw for the 448 and 449 as express routes is that they offer a one-seat ride to the Seaport District. This is definitely a good thing in theory. I also love the fact that they run express from Wonderland to Lynn, meaning they don't get bogged down with even more 441/442 passengers. The schedules for the routes also make sense, with service about every half hour during weekday rush hours only.

Cons: The thing is, these routes don't need to exist. I mean, let's take South Station as an example. Google Maps affirms that it takes about the same amount of time (in fact, a little faster) to take the Blue Line to the 441/442, rather than just take the one-seat ride on the 448/449. The Seaport is a bit of a different story, since it's further from the Blue Line, but the 448 and 449 are often so late anyway that you'll have to wait a long time for them, and they'll take far longer than their scheduled time. Ergo, the 448 and 449 are essentially redundant, and they don't have to exist.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Oh, Marblehead is still a beautiful town. However, I can't imagine why anyone would want to take a day trip up there starting at 5 PM! Yeah, the 441/442 is a lot more flexible with regards to getting to Marblehead...

Final Verdict: 2/10
Look, all these routes do is get a few people to their jobs at the Seaport at a marginally faster speed than the 441/442. And you know, the 441/442 gets absolutely slammed at rush hour. Why is the T wasting four buses (five in the morning rush) to do these trips that really only get people on the combined section with the 441/442? No, a much better use of resources would be to take the four or five buses and put them on the 441/442 to increase service. Maybe there could even be a new route, the 440, that runs from Wonderland to Lynn, where most of the ridership is. The full trips on the 441/442 to Marblehead could run express between them, while the 440 would make local stops. Even just pumping up service on the existing routes is fine...but please do something with these buses other than put them on this waste of an express route.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
One more to go...

4 comments:

  1. Miles, your post reminds me - what's the black soot that is almost always seen on the back of Lynn Garage -based buses? (I'm hoping you know what I mean)

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's one bus line to go. Are you going to fill in the remaining subway stations? Yes, I have my own opinions of Park Street etc., but I'd be interested in yours.

    ReplyDelete

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