Tuesday, August 15, 2017

PVTA: B12 (Stonybrook Express)

Heyyyyy, let's hop on the Prison Express! No, I'm not joking, that's literally what the B12 is: a nonstop, highway-running express route...to a prison. Like, a gigantic, proper prison. Huh. Yeah, I'm just gonna go ahead and say that this is a strange route.

Here we go!
I mean, it was a hassle just to get on this thing! Granted, it's not often someone asks to take a route to a maximum security prison just to stay on and come back, so I can see how it would be a bit sketchy. The driver had to ask his supervisor, and they agreed that if I just did whatever the driver told me to do, it would be fine. I was in!

Some parking lot.
We went west down Main Street for a bit, going by Springfield's newspaper, the Republican, then we turned onto Congress Street. After passing lots of offices, we turned onto Dwight Street and immediately made our way onto a ramp to I-291. There wasn't much of a view, just formless office and industrial buildings, mostly. 

A formless apartment building? I guess that works too.
After a little while, though, it basically just became trees. Sure, there were houses and buildings fairly close to the highway, but the foliage blocked it, so we couldn't see much. We did eventually get to see some industrial buildings, for what it's worth.

Woooo.
Soon enough, though, it was back in the woods for us. We entered Chicopee and crossed over a river of the same name, then we went under I-90...and that was the end of 291. Now it was a local street called Burnett Road, and there were suburban businesses and industrial buildings everywhere. Eventually, it got more residential, but the B12 makes no stops, so we sailed past the houses.

A "business" and a motel.
There were a few more businesses and industries, then it became all houses. Once we entered Ludlow and the road became Holyoke Street, it was again industrial, including a huge solar farm. Next, we turned onto West Street, going by a trailer park and some more industrial buildings.

Very rustic!
Eventually we turned onto Randall Road, which went through pure woods. The street curved around through the trees until we entered a parking lot: we were now in the Hampshire County House of Corrections. We made our way to the visitor's lobby, where all the other passengers got out. Meanwhile, we had one more stop to make in the prison.

Here we go!
We looped around the parking lot and headed onto Texas Drive, going by a small lake-pond-something? There were random buildings along the way, then we pulled into the Pre-Release Center, where prisoners are allowed to spend the day outside of the prison with trackers around their ankles. The driver said that operators of the B12 are specially trained to report to the Sheriff if any of the pre-release passengers act up even a little bit. This is intense stuff! There was no one getting on there today, though, so we just headed back to Springfield with an empty bus.

Security is high...
PVTA Route: B12 (Stonybrook Express)

Ridership: This route has two classes of ridership: there are the pre-release prisoners, as I mentioned, and there are also visitors. My ride was entirely the latter class, with seven women going to see people in the prison. In 2016, the route averaged about 4 passengers per trip, which makes sense, considering the first inbound and last outbound are almost guaranteed to be empty.

Pros: It's, uh, a prison express? You know, it's a weird thought, but it definitely provides a really important service. Plus, the entire route is paid for by the Hampton County Sheriffs Department, so PVTA doesn't have to worry about a thing!

Cons: The schedule is really weird. Maybe it has something to do with how the prison works, but there are four trips from Springfield, weekdays and Saturdays: 1:48, 4:03, 6:03, and 7:48. Strange times...

Nearby and Noteworthy: Uhhhh...literally just the prison. That's it. Have fun!

Final Verdict: 7/10
This is sort of a hard route to review, but I think a 7 suits it pretty well. It definitely provides an important service for a very limited group of people, and it's fully subsidized, but...gosh, it's just weird! The fact that it makes no other stops is strange, and those schedule times (seemingly) make no sense. One thing's for sure, this was an interesting experience, and I'm really glad I was able to ride this crazy route!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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