Tuesday, September 5, 2017

PVTA: R24 (Paper City Express)

I think the R24 can be summed up by what a passenger said to the driver as he got off the bus: "This took way too long! I'm never taking this bus ever again! Goodbye!" Couldn't have said it better myself.

The bus coming towards the transportation center.
We started this loopy disaster by pulling out of the Holyoke Transportation Center and heading down Maple Street. It was mostly just brick buildings and parking lots, at least until the lovely Holyoke Public Library. At this point, we turned onto Cabot Street, which became residential in the form of dense houses.

A grim-looking side street.
Outside of a nursing home, we turned onto Locust Street, then Essex Street, then Pleasant Street. Keep in mind that Cabot Street becomes Pleasant Street, but I guess we have to do that one-block deviation so the residents of some apartments don't have to walk a whole block. Geez! There were more apartments along Pleasant Street that were, incidentally, much bigger than the ones we had to deviate to.

Crossing Appleton Street.
Next, we turned onto Hampden Street, which had some retail, as well as more apartments. Wait...we stayed on Pleasant? But I've got the route map right here, it turns onto Hampden...oh, I see that's after it does a figure-8 on itself. Sigh...alright, so we continued up Pleasant, turned onto Lincoln, and then deviated to serve a Stop & Shop. Hey, you know the B48 can get you here far faster than the R24, right? And way faster coming back...at least, if the B48 actually had a southbound stop there. But I digress.

Cars, cars, cars.
Okay, now we turned onto Hampden Street and actually started going somewhere again. There were businesses along the street for a bit, but then it turned back to dense houses. Next, we turned onto the wide Northampton Street, which was simply lined with suburban businesses with parking lots.

About to head onto Northampton Street.
Around the time we got to a cemetery, it became all residential again. There were a few smaller businesses mixed in between the houses, too. Next, it was time for another deviation as we turned onto Corser Street and made our way to the Holyoke Medical Center. You know, the B23 can get you here far faster than the R24. That makes two redundant deviations so far!

Serving the hospital.
This deviation was particularly painful, too, since we now had to backtrack a ways down Northampton Street. It felt like it took forever - finally, we turned onto Sargeant Street, going by a park, but mostly houses. The street took a curve to the southeast and a few businesses made their way into the mix.

A residential side street.
Eventually we passed some apartments and the Holyoke Senior Center (which, strangely, doesn't get any kind of timepoint), and the former continued as we kept going. We turned onto High Street eventually, which featured lots of varied businesses that felt more "downtowny" the further we went. However, instead of going down Hampden Street to go to the transportation center, we had one more deviation to do. And I swear to God, it makes absolutely no sense.

So...close!!!
First, we turned onto Lyman Street, then alongside a big cathedral, we turned onto Maple Street. This took us past Pulaski Heights, the apartment building we were ostensibly deviating for. Does that mean this huge mess was over? No, not at all. We turned onto St Kolbe Drive, then Chestnut Street.

This is pretty ugly...
Now we turned back onto Lyman Street for a block, then Elm Street for a block, then Hampden Street for, yes, a block. Next, we did Walnut for a block, and after that, we were back on Lyman for, wow, a whole three blocks! Finally finally finally finally finally, we turned onto Maple Street, and that took us back to the Holyoke Transportation Center. THIS IS THE MOST INSANE BUS ROUTE IN THE UNIVERSE!

GET AWAY FROM ME!
PVTA Route: R24 (Paper City Express)

Ridership: This thing gets 17.4 passengers per revenue hour?? I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I know I should trust the numbers, but my Saturday ride had four people. Four people! Was it a fluke? Does this route get far more riders than I give it credit for? I mean...yeah, I guess so!

Pros: It serves stuff. In the most indirect way possible.

Cons: Paper City Express? Paper City EXPRESS???? WHAT PART OF THIS ROUTE SUGGESTS AN "EXPRESS" AT ALL???????? This thing twists and turns its way around Holyoke like it wants to travel down every single street in the entire city! The B48 already serves Stop & Shop! The B23 already serves Holyoke Hospital! And those ridiculous turns just before returning to the hub? What, did a child plan this route? Did they have a five-year-old scribble all over a map and say "Okay, there's our route!"? It sure seems like it!

Nearby and Noteworthy: If you're looking for a slow, agonizing sightseeing tour of Holyoke, I've found the bus for you!

Final Verdict: 3/10
This route is painful. The phrase "Paper City Express" sends shivers down my spine. You know there's actually a special bus that has a Paper City Express livery? It's never actually on the Paper City Express, so that means that this route can still haunt me, even if I'm trying to avoid it! WHYYYYYYY?????

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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