Monday, March 19, 2018

GATRA: Downtown Middleborough Shuttle

I think we've done it: we've hit peak GATRA. This route, the Downtown Middleborough Shuttle, seems to do absolutely everything wrong. For example, it only serves Middleborough Station four times per day: 11:05, 12:50, 3:05, and 4:45. They time with trains, but why these specific times that don't benefit commuters in any way? Huh, I dunno! It's honestly one of the less confusing mysteries of this crazy route...

Here it comes!
Because the bus didn't time with our train, Sam and I walked to Grove Street to flag down the bus. "Where ya goin'?" the driver asked as he used his minibus lever to open the door. "We're going to Trucchi's." I said. "Oh, okay," the driver said. "Just know that it takes a while to get there, I gotta go to a bunch of places first." Oh yeah...he wasn't lying.

Some houses.
We dropped our coins into the non-electronic farebox to get to the dollar fare (because come on, coins are the only true way to pay for a GATRA bus) and sat down. One of the two passengers on board, an old lady with sunglasses, turned around to look at us. "Thank goodness for the bus," she said through a wide toothy smile. "Yup," Sam said. Now she was just staring at us. Grinning. Sizing us up. The other passenger, an old man, turned around. "The local school must be nearby," he said in an aggressive growl. What had we gotten ourselves into? The wheelchair lift jiggled.

A deviation, of course!
We deviated into an ugly, dead shopping center: Middleborough Crossing. The old sunglasses lady finally stopped grinning at us to let the driver know she wanted to get off at Ocean State Job Lot. The old man got out first, and she made her way off the bus mumbling about what she was planning on buying. Awesome, now we had some time alone!

Not too many cars parked here today.
But alas, we would get more passengers as we pulled up to Hannaford. The first was a typical GATRA old lady. The second was a man with big, bulging eyes and a mask over his nose and mouth. He stepped onto the bus with two grocery bags, then he gave us a long, hard stare with those beady eyes. We could hear his deep breaths behind the bright blue hospital mask. At some point he decided we were suitably scared, so he got off the bus to get his other two bags.

Leaving the shopping center.
Hang on, did either of those passengers pay? No, no, they absolutely didn't! And now that I think about it, the farebox was empty when Sam and I put our money in, so sunglasses lady and growl man didn't pay either! Do people just not pay for this route? Gosh, I wonder what the GATRA accountants say about this money-losing mess!

An apartment development behind a laundromat.
We went over the Nemasket River after returning to Grove Street, then it was mostly suburban businesses on the other side. We passed the Middleborough High School (perhaps the "local school" growl man was referring to?), then a few housing developments. Turning onto Wood Street, we then made our way into Middlebury Arms, an apartment development.

Coming into Middlebury Arms.
The road ended with a dead-end. So, we did what any normal bus route would do: reverse into a driveway and three point turn our way back out! Coming back onto Wood Street, we were about seven minutes early, so we pulled over into the route's...uh...layover point? I guess that's the most professional name I can give the patch of dirt next to the road we were sitting in.

Reverse, reverse!
A person in a passing car knew the driver, so they both opened their windows and had a screaming conversation, blocking the traffic on Wood Street. Once the woman left, the driver turned on the radio, which was playing an incomprehensible ad for the South Shore Gutter Monkeys. It was parodying something, but it made absolutely no sense! And then..."Call 911! No, just kidding, call [actual number]." Geez, come on, that's not okay!

An auto shop.
Finally, we pulled out of the dirt patch and headed back the way we came on Grove Street. We went over the Nemasket River again and passed Middleborough Crossing without deviating. Also, the actual radio station came on here: "Welcome to the feel-good station, playing hits from when you were growing up!" Uh-oh...cue the absolute cheesiest 70s and 80s music you've ever heard. "Lonely Boy," by Andrew Gold, anyone?

Okay, that's an awesome town hall!
There were some suburban businesses at Main Street, onto which we turned. It was residential for a bit, but we soon arrived at Middleborough Town Hall, marking the beginning of downtown Middleborough...except we turned onto Webster Street before reaching the thick of things, because we had a deviation to do!

Heading onto Webster Street.
There were dense houses along here, and they continued as we turned onto Benton Street. We then turned onto Spencer Street, taking us down a hill to the Riverview Apartments. Using a roundabout within the development to turn around, we pulled over, and...oh, we're three minutes early, so we have to wait? Sigh...

One of the apartments, with regular houses in the background.
We finally pulled out of there, making our way onto Wareham Street. As it became Center Street, it took us into downtown Middleborough proper, which was a very...lifeless place. Everything about it was bland and dead. We turned onto Oak Street next, going by houses and a small hospital.

Woooooo! Downtown Middleborough!!
We turned onto Maple Ave, then Maddigan Way, which was an apartment development. As we made our way down to Sproat Street, we entered a different apartment development, Nemasket Apartments. From there, we made our way onto Forest Street, although the route was supposed to return on Oak Street. Mask guy got off along here, and it took forever because he had to get his four bags out of the bus, while also staring at us the whole time. I was overjoyed to see him go, and I took solace in the fact that I would never have to be stared at by him ever again.

Coming off of Forest Street.
We turned onto Center Street, and for the first time on the route, we were actually going somewhere without deviating! The road went over some freight and Commuter Rail train tracks, then we were in a mostly residential area. It was all houses, aside from Middleborough's Central Cemetery. As the road made a southerly curve, it became Anderson Ave.

Finally, I was getting deviation withdrawal!
We turned onto North Grove Street in order to serve...gosh, I don't even know. The street just had sparse houses along it. We did a sharp turn around onto Grove Street proper, and there were a few...landscaping businesses there. Is that what GATRA's trying to serve with this jog? There was a section of mostly woods after that, mixed in with a few suburban businesses, including two vape shops, apparently!

A very flashy diner.
Near a State Police station, we passed a scheduled timepoint: Acorn Hill. I guess this is what we were serving? Doesn't look like much to me! There were some suburban businesses as we went through an intersection with Anderson Ave, and then we pulled into Trucchi's. Wait, hang on, we were supposed to go past it to deviate to Southeast Health Center! We're not doing that, huh? Alright, then...last stop, Trucchi's.

Give us a wave!
GATRA Route: Downtown Middleborough Shuttle

Ridership: This route averages 46 riders per weekday, and based on what we saw, not one of them is under 65! The route gets about 5 passengers per hour, and since the route runs every hour, that means every 5 passengers per round trip. Pretty bad...

Pros: Well, I'll say this: people are at least using it. It serves a purpose within the community. Sort of. And the every hour, weekdays only schedule is fine.

Cons: It's sooooooo bad! It does almost everything wrong: it serves the Commuter Rail station at random times, the time given between timepoints changes on certain trips, the route is insanely deviatory, it doesn't go the route it's supposed to go, it costs $15.22 per passenger to run, it's early everywhere so it has to wait, it has a 3.3% farebox recovery ratio, but it's probably more like 0% because the passengers don't pay (and are really creepy), and the route gets just 5 passengers per hour! WHAT DOES THIS THING DO RIGHT???

Nearby and Noteworthy: I have to say, Trucchi's was the most GATRA supermarket I've ever been in. Just like on the bus, there was no one, worker or customer, under 65 in there!

Final Verdict: 1/10
There aren't too many cases where I would say this, but come on - just replace this thing with dial-a-ride service. Everyone who rides it fits the requirements to ride GATRA's dial-a-ride buses, and they'd probably get where they're going a heck of a lot faster than on this route! The one problem is that dial-a-ride fares are $1.25 instead of a dollar, and, presumably, people would actually have to pay it. But I guess if GATRA wants to keep this free loop running around, that's up to them.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
If you think this route was crazy, just wait until our next GATRA route tomorrow. It blows this one out of the water!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2018


The original Bridgewater station was closer to downtown, but I actually like the Old Colony placement more! Yes, you heard me: the Old Colony station is in a better location than the original. That's because this stop now serves Bridgewater State University, and it's right there.

Our first entrance.
Bridgewater Station features four pedestrian entrances. The first one is at a little roundabout on the western edge of the station, and it has a payphone and some bike spaces. The other three are simple stairs or ramps leading from the parking lot. The easternmost one also has some more bike spaces, adding up to a total of 24.

The parking lot...from above.
It's an Old Colony station, so of course the parking lot is huge - it has 504 spaces. It can't be seen in this picture, but I appreciate how the central entrance from the station has a sidewalk going straight across the parking lot, so it's easier for pedestrians to get into the university. There's a garage right nearby (from which I took the photo), but I believe it's only for BSU purposes.

On the platform.
This is an Old Colony platform, so there isn't much to say, but I do like it. The Bridgewater platform has two shelters on separate sides of the station, which is great. Both of them have essentially the same things underneath: benches, wastebaskets, information, and screens. Great!

On to Middleborough!
Station: Bridgewater

Ridership: It's huge! With 1,036 inbound riders per weekday, this is the busiest station on the Middleborough Line and the 20th most-used station on the Commuter Rail.

Pros: It has all of the Old Colony amenities you would want (plus a second shelter!), including a high-level platform and a big parking lot. However, Bridgewater goes above and beyond that with its location. Yes, we're right in the Bridgewater State University campus, and thanks to fantastic pedestrian paths, practically anywhere on campus is walkable. If not, there's always the BSU Shuttle!

Cons: The station got so wrapped up in serving the university that it totally forgot about the residential neighborhoods to the south! Now, granted, this isn't Anderson/Woburn - people in those houses only have to walk about ten minutes to get to the station. But seeing as it's right there, a direct path would cut the walk down by a huge amount!

Nearby and Noteworthy: BSU, of course! Bridgewater Center is also rather nice - it's a fifteen-minute walk away.

Final Verdict: 8/10
This is a great Old Colony station, and just a flat-out great station. It has a totally high-level platform and it's very convenient for students at BSU. It's too bad there's no access from the south, but creating it would require a lot of infrastructure for not too many riders - they only have to walk ten minutes to get to the station, anyway.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Saturday, March 17, 2018

BAT: BSU Service (Bridgewater State University)

Since BAT labels its free student-run Bridgewater State University shuttle service as one route, I guess I'll have to review its lines in one post! Although to show how much BAT itself cares about the service, that link on the BAT website has outdated information - this is where everything is up-to-date.

Oh no, don't tell me this is a system of truck minibuses!
Route 28 (Express to/from BAT Centre): We begin with the university's only numbered service, a route that runs from Brockton down to BSU. Sam and I boarded the bus at its own special T berth in the BAT Centre, and we departed down Montello Street. This closely paralleled the Commuter Rail tracks, and it had some hardcore industry on that side, while the other side had dense houses. Interestingly, no other BAT routes travel down this road.

Okay, it's no surprise why that's the case.
The street basically darted between residential and industrial sections, all the way until Keith Park. Here, we turned onto Plain Street along the south side of the park, then we went onto Main Street, joining up with the 2. This street was a smorgasbord of stuff, including suburban businesses, houses, some huge apartment buildings, and the BAT bus yard.

Coming onto Main Street.
Suburban businesses eventually became the primary buildings along Main Street, and we passed some of the most decrepit and abandoned-looking shopping malls I've ever seen. The route actually used to begin at one of these shopping centers, and Brockton-bound riders would be forced to transfer to the 2! Good thing that's not the case anymore.

A gas station.
We continued beyond the terminus of the 2, entering West Bridgewater. There was a clear drop in development over the border - although suburban businesses still showed up in droves, there were no cross streets, and it was just forest beyond North Main Street. We eventually passed a cemetery and a solar farm, after which it briefly got residential with some proper woodsy sections.

The sun rises over the trees!
West Bridgewater Center wasn't much: there were just some chain businesses with parking lots surrounding a pretty inaccessible "common." We made our way onto South Main Street here, crossing the Town River and going by mostly houses with a few industrial buildings in there. Eventually, we entered Bridgewater proper.

Liquors! Now open!
After lots of houses, we arrived at Bridgewater Center, which was much better than its western counterpart! There was a pedestrian-friendly common here, and it was surrounded by some nice businesses in charming buildings. We turned onto Central Square, which went around the common.

Heading along the common!
We turned onto School Street next, and that took us straight into the BSU campus. We made a stop at the Art Center, then we looped around a green to the second and final stop, Harrington Hall. Oh...or we could skip Harrington Hall entirely, instead turning onto Summer Street, then Plymouth Street, then Burrill Avenue, making our final stop at Hart Hall. Okay...I guess that works too?

Interesting place to end.
BSU Route: Route 28 (Express to/from BAT Centre)
Ridership: My ride got about 10 people, which isn't huge, but people are definitely using the service.
Pros: This is a fast connection to Brockton - it only takes about 20 minutes. And sure, the Commuter Rail takes 12, but this bus is free! It only runs five times a day, but I honestly don't think it needs to come much more often than that.
Cons: The NextBus data for this route is really out of date. It has the bus only going as far as that shopping center just over the Brockton line, and it doesn't mention anything about going to Hart Hall. Was that supposed to happen?
Nearby and Noteworthy: Brockton, of course - not that anyone who isn't at BSU has much reason to take this there.
Driver's Radio Preference: Top 40
Final Verdict: 7/10
This is a quick free shuttle for anyone coming from or going to Brockton. My guess is that the departure times reflect commuting patterns for students, and the bus would probably run empty if it ran more often. Its only big issue is the outdated NextBus data.

Hey, a proper bus!
Green Line (East/West Connection): Next, we move onto the Green Line, which begins at Bridgewater Station and the parking garage for commuters next to it. We looped around onto Great Hill Drive from there, running through a bit of forest until a few buildings with parking lots. We turned onto Burrill Ave next, passing a few dorms - we did a deviation into one of them. However, we didn't deviate into Miles Hall, so honestly, I should just give this route a 1/10!

Some of the dorms.
We turned onto Hooper Street, passing Burnell Hall and a commuter lot. It was a left on the residential Plymouth Street after that, then we crossed the Commuter Rail track (with a painfully long railroad stop). From there, we turned onto Summer Street, and completed the route by looping around Boyden Hall, with stops at Harrington Hall and the Art Center.

Time for another trip back.
BSU Route: Green Line (East/West Connection)
Ridership: My ride only got two people, but I saw another bus on the line that had a full-seated load. It was prime commute time, though, so I wonder what it's like middays, for example.
Pros: Well, at least at rush hour, people do seem to use this thing! It runs about every 10-15 minutes from 7:15 AM to 7:00 PM, supposedly.
Cons: The problem is that it could be replaced by the "Red Line" at any point - we'll get to that later. No, the other thing about the Green Line is that it's kinda useless unless you're really lazy. Thanks to BSU's network of pedestrian paths, the furthest possible distance on the route is only about a 15 minute walk. That means that if you just miss a bus, it's faster to hoof it!
Nearby and Noteworthy: Miles Hall, of course - duh!!
Driver's Radio Preference: Soft Rock
Final Verdict: 4/10
I was wary of giving this route any higher than that. Sure, it gets used by commuters during rush hour, but it's kinda useless for campus transportation unless you're lazy. Everyone I've talked to who went or goes to BSU have said that they rarely, if ever, use the shuttle. Not to mention it's unreliable, since it could be changed to a different routing at a moment's notice. Gosh, maybe a 4 is too high...

The Blue Line bus...from above. This is on the other end of the route, but it's better than the photo I got at the Art Center.
Blue Line (Commuter Express): That's a misleading name. Indeed, this "express" is the more annoyingly deviation-filled route on campus. We began it by heading out from the Art Center, turning onto Summer Street, and merging onto Plymouth Street. We were lucky because we were going eastbound, but the westbound route does a really long deviation just to serve a parking lot within a three minute walk of the main road. That deviation also comes really close to a mall, but for some reason it has no stop for it!

Looking down Spring Street.
Plymouth Street became mostly residential past there, but once we arrived at a big football stadium, we turned onto an access road. This was a deviation to the Tinsley Center, where we looped around and headed straight back up. It was back onto Plymouth Street, where we went by a baseball field and some more houses. Next, we turned onto Great Hill Drive, which took a longgggggg, windy trip through the woods until we arrived at the Commuter Rail station.

In the parking lot.
BSU Route: Blue Line (Commuter Express)
Ridership: My trip got two people, and I wasn't able to see what other ones got, unfortunately.
Pros: Hey, the Athletic and Tinsley Centers are actually kinda far, so I can see how this route would be useful for those. However...
Cons: The longest possible distance on this route is an 18 minute walk. The route runs "every 15-20 minutes." So again, if you've just missed a bus, it's faster just to walk (it didn't help that our driver was really slow...)! Also, why does this route bother to serve the Commuter Rail station? The Green Line already covers it, and the Blue Line could be much more frequent to its unique sections if it didn't take that long trip there. Finally, that mall on the westbound Spring Street Lot deviation is legitimately far from everything else, and all that would need to be done is adding an additional stop on that deviation!
Nearby and Noteworthy: People mostly use this to get to the Athletic and Tinsley Centers, I imagine.
Driver's Radio Preference: Country
Final Verdict: 3/10
This route has a lot of improvements that could be made to make it more frequent and useful. Eliminate the Commuter Rail section, run the shorter route more frequently, and add a stop on the Spring Street deviation for that mall. Also, this route can be replaced by the Red Line at any time, which is annoying! Speaking of which...

Red Line: Okay, so I didn't actually get to ride the Red Line, but I can at least talk about it. The route is a combination of the Green and Blue Lines, doing every single one of their deviations. It comes every 15-20 minutes, and it runs..."as needed." Okay, that's vague. Based on a few inspections of the system at various times of day, the Red Line will just randomly replace Green and Blue Line service! Why can't it just have set times, say, middays, while the lines run separately during rush hours? This whole "as needed" business just makes the system more complicated and unpredictable than it has to be.

Gold Line: There are a lot of routes for such a small campus, huh? The Gold Line is the only route that runs nights, from 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM. It's also the only route that runs on weekends, but only during those nighttime hours. It's similar to the Red Line, but it uses two buses (thus running every 10-15 minutes), and it has a few on-demand locations that can be requested by calling a number. I appreciate that these deviations can be done spontaneously, since that's probably how most decisions are made by college students at 2 in the morning!

Overall, this all feels like a "courtesy" system more than anything. Most of the destinations these shuttles serve are within easy walking distance from each other, but these buses are here as a courtesy to those who are unable to easily get between them...or those who are lazy. I think it's overly complex considering how many destinations it serves, but it is nice that the buses are student-run. Still, this system isn't too useful, and it's WAY too complicated for its own good. I'm going to have to give it a 3/10.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Wickford Junction

The MBTA has made many mistakes over the years. Wickford Junction is one of them.

We begin with the busway.
Throughout this review, we'll be talking about the various ways Rhode Island has tried to make this waste of a station into something that comes even close to its ridership projections. Here's the first one: RIPTA abandoned one of its park-and-rides to reroute all of the area routes to Wickford. Thus, the 62, 65x, and 66 all deviate into the busway here.

The busway itself is fine - it's just a few benches and...wait, this sign is interesting. They have a normal RIPTA sign, but they just threw an MBTA-style sign above it! Hey, did you know that MBTA Commuter Rail monthly passes are valid for free travel on the bus routes that come here? That's Failed Ridership Booster #2!

Stairs up to the platform.
There's a line of parking spaces right along the platform in the loop area outside the station. I'm not sure if they're any different from the ones in the garage, but they're here. From these spaces, there's a simple staircase up to the platform, as well as a ramp that takes a loopy route to get up there.

Looking over at the building.
Well, for a modern station, this is an awesome building! It still has a good amount of character, what with its clocktower and an art piece on a second tower. I don't know what the art is supposed to be, but hey, it was nicely lit up at night - I can't complain.

Inside the waiting room.
Wickford has a full-time waiting room whenever trains are running, which is awesome. The ground floor gets a few airport-style seats, a posted train timetable, and paper schedules for the RIPTA routes that serve the stop. There are vending machines, too - let's take a closer look at those.

Woah, woah, woah, WHAT??
Like all normal people do, I thought I would check the expiration dates on the vending machine items to see how often they were being purchased., they were very close to their expiration dates! How long could these snack items have possibly been in here? How often are these vending machines used??? How often is this station used?????

Inside the parking garage.
So Wickford Junction has one of the largest parking garages on the Commuter Rail. 1100 spaces. But the lot would only get 213 cars per weekday in 2014. Now maybe there are more that park in there now, and they certainly have incentive to: the parking is free. Yes, it's our third Failed Ridership Booster! Beautiful glass elevators traverse the four floors of the garage, whose parking, if I may remind you, is free! I can't get over that!

There are signs everywhere at Wickford Junction saying "Restrooms located on Level 1! Restrooms located on Level 1!" Okay, we looked everywhere in the first floor lobby and couldn't find them! Where the heck could they be? Oh...they're in the parking garage...on the first floor. Okay, guys, let's work on the signage, huh?

Well, these are very nice bathrooms otherwise. They have buttons that open the doors for disabled folks, which is a great touch, and inside they're mostly spotless, although the men's room did have some graffiti on one of the stalls. Overall, though, these are great. Too bad the door-opening button doesn't work for the doorway going back into the lobby.

Up on the second floor.
Believe it or not, Wickford still has more building to explore! There's a whole second floor here! The second floor lobby features some seats for waiting, another schedule, some historical information, and a Wickford Junction FAQ's placard about how the train is free to Providence "until the end of 2017." (an outdated Failed Ridership Booster) There's also a parking payment machine that has been turned off, with a piece of paper on it saying "FREE PARKING." Finally, there are signs advertising a cafĂ© coming soon, but the retail space where it's supposed to be coming in looks pretty darn bare.

The platform.
Wickford's platform is surprisingly underwhelming, considering everything else. It's what you would expect with a modern Commuter Rail station: the whole thing is high-level, and there's a shelter next to the main building entrance with benches and wastebaskets underneath. The platform extends further out, and there's a connection to the other end of the parking garage a ways down. Well...this was an anticlimactic ending.

This is the furthest from Boston this train can ever get, at least in revenue service!
Station: Wickford Junction

Ridership: Alright, the most recent projection for ridership here (cited from a 2005 prediction, though) is 3,386 riders by 2020!  Well, with those lofty aspirations, I'm sure Wickford Junction has to be very close to that amount. Let's see here...on July 5th, 2017, the station got 353 riders. And that was right after Rhode Island started offering free train service from here to Boston. So even when the service is free, ridership is a tenth of the projection. Mm-mm, fantastic numbers right there.

Pros: Well, hey, the station itself is excellent! In its efforts to make it a welcoming place for Commuters, Rhode Island really did build themselves a fantastic train terminal. The platform is standard, but the building has a ton of awesome amenities, including vending machines, indoor waiting areas, and bathrooms.

Cons: Aside from the minor quirks I've mentioned above, Wickford Junction just has the little problem of being a huge boondoggle. It's such an unnecessary station! There's already extremely fast bus service from here to Providence, and hey, it's free with a Commuter Rail pass! And good luck doing the 100-minute commute from here to Boston - have fun paying that $12.50 Zone 10 fare! Also, you gotta love that 10 trains per day, weekdays-only schedule. 3,386 riders per day indeed.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Walmart? Staples? Home Depot? There isn't much around here...

Final Verdict: 8/10
Well, I'm here to review the station, not the service. There is no denying that Wickford Junction is a fabulous station. Also, I can at least imagine people commuting to Providence from here, since the $3.50 fare is very reasonable, but geez, who's going to Boston from here? Honestly, Rhode Island would probably benefit more from its own commuter rail with closer stops - let's let the T just go back to Providence, okay?

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Thursday, March 15, 2018

203 (Narragansett Flex)

So...why is there a Flex service down here, exactly? Within the 203's Flex Zone, we have two fixed routes that run daily service and cover most of the zone. Plus, RIPTA has extensive paratransit service throughout the zone that uses the same reservation system. So basically, the 203's target audience is people who:
  • Are under age 60
  • Don't have a disability
  • Can't use a fixed route for some reason
  • Are willing to call in advance, or get on the bus at a timepoint, which only happens four times per day
So...basically nobody. We're off to a great start!

Just hanging out in the parking lot, I guess.
Sam and I were waiting at Salt Pond Plaza for the 6:00 timepoint trip, the last one of the day. It was getting late enough that we were considering just walking over to the bus, but it finally started to move. Would it come our way? Yes, thank goodness, it pulled up and we came to the door. "Where are you going?" the driver asked gruffly. "Galilee," I responded. "Are you serious?" he said. "I'm supposed to go back to Providence now! Why didn't you just take the 66?" "We missed it," I replied. "Alright, get in," he said. "Just this once. I should be going back to Providence now."

Okay, what the heck was the deal with that??? Look, obviously we didn't miss the 66, but the principle of this is terrible! The route schedule clearly states that passengers can get on at a timepoint and request to go anywhere in the Flex Zone. There's no footnote at the 6:00 trip saying "Oh yeah, you can't actually use this timepoint because the driver wants to just go back to Providence." Look, if the driver doesn't want to do it (and based on his reaction, I doubt anyone actually uses it), just get rid of the timepoint. It's not that big of a deal.

The pictures only get worse from here...
We headed onto Point Judith Road from Salt Pond Plaza, and it quickly devolved into woods with houses here and there. We went past a golf course on one side and a farm on the other, and there were actually some dense-ish residential pockets after that. Although we had been following the 66 this whole time, the route turned off onto Burnside Ave for its Scarborough Beach deviation. It returned only about a minute later at an intersection with a few businesses.

This is basically my only picture of something.
It was more trees and houses until we turned onto Galilee Escape Road. The 66 takes a slightly longer route, since it goes to serve another beach, so we were once again solo. After running through marshland, we turned onto Great Island Road, coming past the many docks and fish markets of Galilee. "Sorry about making you come down here," Sam said to the driver. "Eh," he grumbled. "It is what it is." He let us off at the Block Island Ferry Terminal just as the 66 home was leaving, so we wandered around the empty roads of Galilee waiting for the next one to finish its hour-long layover.

A minibus in Galilee!
RIPTA Route: 203 (Narragansett Flex)

Ridership: Well, clearly there's no one at 6:00! Just based on the character of the route, I'll bet this thing doesn't get many people.

Pros: Huh...I have to say, there isn't much I have to say here.

Cons: This is just such a niche route! I mean, there are just so few people who happen to be travelling to places fixed routes don't go, and don't qualify for RIde service! Hey, at the very least, the 6:00 timepoint could be eliminated.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Well, gee, nothing that's not already covered by fixed routes.

Final Verdict: 1/10
I see no reason to keep this thing around. It seems to benefit only a tiny amount of people, and I'm sure many of them could just switch over to RIde instead. Narragansett is well-served by fixed routes, particularly the 66, and the 203 just feels pointless and redundant.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
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