Sunday, August 25, 2013

Service Change: Vermont - White River Junction and Burlington Bus 6

We're back in New England, but not Boston just yet; we're looking at White River Junction, a town with a railway history, and Burlington, the biggest city in Vermont.
I absolutely love White River Junction. It's always my town of choice for stopping to grab a bite on the way to Burlington. White River Junction used to be a huge railroad junction, but it is now only served by the daily Amtrak Vermonter from Washington D.C. The downtown area has relatively high buildings and a cartooning school. I didn't know until a few weeks ago, however, that White River Junction has a bus running through it.

The bus system feeds from Hanover, NH, and is completely free to ride (although it runs weekdays only). The Orange Route serves White River Junction, running every hour. I didn't get to ride it, unfortunately, but I got pictures of one of its shelters.

Nice shelter.
The map in the shelter.
I have no idea why they have schedules for all the bus routes...
WRJ also has a railroad "museum" and an old locomotive from the Boston and Maine Railroad. The locomotive is in a shelter right near the Amtrak Station. There are stairs leading up to a place where you can look at the controls for the locomotive. There are labels, as well as information about the locomotive.

The locomotive up front.
The caboose. 
The inside. 
Information on the locomotive.
The railway museum was mainly just a gift shop with a few old artifacts. It was kind of touristy, but interesting. The items on sale were mostly things like wooden train tracks, and there was a relatively creepy statue of a conductor. Through a hallway is another store with other merchandise not related to the railway.

Why did I never hear of this?
Antique railroad crossing.
Antique signal.
That conductor is so creepy.
The Amtrak station is barely anything. All it is is a low paved platform and a lot of freight cars. There's a ticket office and a baggage area, although neither of them seemed open. Admittedly, a daily service doesn't need much of a station, but it was still very disappointing.

I don't think the sign is necessary.
Hello?
Is anyone in there?
Man, this joint is hoppin'.
Burlington: Burlington has a small bus network for itself, with 19 routes: most are local routes, but there are a few "LINK Expresses" that travel to far-flung towns and cities (including Montpelier). I wanted to take a bus there, but considering how stingy my mother is with buses, I decided at first to take the short 11 bus (College Street Shuttle), since it's free. However, it turns out that the 6 (Shelburne Road) (I don't know why "Normand" is in the PDF link) goes right by the hotel we were staying at, so we decided to use it to get to downtown Burlington.

The 6 follows a very straightforward route, spending most of the time on Shelburne Road. In Shelburne, it makes a short loop and serves the Shelburne Museum, then heads back up to Burlington. It serves the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. factory part-time, more aimed for workers than shoppers. Of course, we didn't do all this. Our hotel was about halfway down the route (Harbor View Road on the map), with a nice shelter.
I love the design of the shelter! That wastebasket is overflowing, though.
A convenient schedule inside the shelter, although it would be nice if it showed the arrival times for this particular stop (that goes for you too, MBTA).
Stop! Bus!
It's hard to see, but there's a solar panel up there for the light at night.
Interesting view in the back of the shelter.
Another rainy view of the shelter.
Solar!
Not the greatest bus stop design, in my opinion...
The bus runs every half hour Mondays through Saturdays (not bad), but it doesn't run on Sundays (on Sundays, most local routes are replaced by a large loop called the 18). Fares in Burlington are $1.25 for local routes - exact change only, which is always annoying, although passes can be bought. The inside of the bus had dark green seats and pull chords to request stops. In place of ads, there were posters talking about bus etiquette (without creepy animals, MBTA).
The 6 "TO BURLINGTON."
The interior of the bus looking frontward.
The interior of the bus toward the back.
Yeah, don't hog a seat.
The 6 from the side.
This strangely reminds me of the picture of the 350 I took. Perhaps it's because they were both going to Burlington.
This is the only use of the screen up front.
Important stops are announced by the driver, meaning the screen up front is only to say that a stop was requested. There were only five people on the bus when we got on, which at first made me think it had low ridership since we were halfway down the route already. However, as the bus went toward Burlington, more people fed into the bus and by the time we were downtown, all seat pairs were taken.

Where we were, it was basically a sprawl of terrible motels, large shopping centers, and creepy preschools. It reminded me a little of Orlando, although more...alive, I guess, since there were people actually walking on the streets. After passing the pathetic highway stub of I-189 (which was originally intended to be a much longer route to ease traffic on Shelburne Road), the bus stops at a large shopping mall with a modern shelter and a lot of people getting on.

The seats are facing away from the road, for some reason.
Soon after, the bus enters a quiet suburb. I thought that was interesting, since we were entering the city. Shelburne Road becomes South Union Street, and then the bus passes a school ("READ READ," said the sign out front). It then gets very urban as the bus twists and turns through downtown Burlington. The bus passes the Church Street pedestrian walkway and City Hall, and the bus empties out, although about 10 people remain for the trip up to Cherry Street (the hub of the Burlington bus system). Nearing the hub, the bus driver asks if anyone needs transfers, which only one person requires on our bus.

I wasn't sure what to expect with the Cherry Street bus station. I was disappointed, however. Most of the station is just bus shelters. There is an area with a large shelter and benches, as well as a place to purchase passes. However, our friend from Burlington says that a lot of questionable characters hang around the station, which is apparent in the dinginess of the station.

The 6 at Cherry Street.
An example of the fleet of smaller buses at Cherry Street.
A large wall of bus shelters at Cherry Street. I wonder what that "Free Magazine" is...
The bulk of Cherry Street is just shelters.
The large shelter.
The cluttered ticket booth.
Another area of Cherry Street with just shelters.
Nice clock.
Beautiful electronic information screen!
A large system map on a brick wall.
A final note about Burlington: there also used to be a tram line on the Church Street pedestrian walkway. I can't find any information about it online, but it doesn't exist anymore. They most likely got rid of it when they converted it for pedestrians only.

Some old wires from the line.
A sign about it.
Next time, we are coming back to Boston, but not the MBTA: it's a non-MBTA shuttle from Kendall Square Station to the Cambridgeside Galleria. Until then, goodbye.

5 comments:

  1. Great post, Miles! I love your attention to detail, such as the overflowing trash barrel. I took the Vermonter up from New York years ago. It was the fall so it was especially beautiful. (I forget where I got off though. Montpelier maybe?) I shot a lot of Super 8 footage out the window, quite romantic looking.
    Best,
    Eliza

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the nice comment! I wanted to take the Vermonter up to Burlington, but my mother didn't want to change trains at Springfield (even though she wouldn't mind going ALL THE WAY to New York to change trains, even though that takes longer).

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  2. A non-MBTA shuttle? I look forward to hearing about it.
    I think the train that goes from new York to Vermont used to go all the way through Vermont and up to Montreal. I know that when I was a kid I went to a "birthday party" which was the birthday boy's father taking me, the birthday boy, and another friend up to Montreal. I think we took what was then called the "metroliner" down to Hartford, then the "Montrealer" back up to Montreal. Fun. First time I ever ate at a French restaurant. Also the only time I've ever been to Montreal, although I've been to most other big Canadian cities several times since then, for my job.
    Eric Cornell

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    Replies
    1. The train to Montreal actually runs through upstate New York, although perhaps it was different years ago. It's called the "Adirondack," named after a mountain range in New York. I've been to Montreal once and I loved it! I was disappointed that the subway is all below ground, though...

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    2. The Metroliner was the predecessor to the Acela. So, basically, you took the Acela down to New haven and then took the Vermonter up to Montpelier, passing Hartford and Springfield.

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