Saturday, September 23, 2017

PVTA: B6 (Union Station/Ludlow via Bay Street)

Ehhh, the B6 is just kind of a boring route. Sorry, I don't have anything exciting to say for the intro...

The back of the bus at Union Station.
We went down the main drag of Main Street for a while, at least until some tall buildings at Harrison Ave. There, we turned onto it, then we turned onto Dwight Street, which went by apartments and a hockey rink. Next, we turned onto State Street, passing a library, a church, and the US District Court.

Turning onto Dwight Street.
We went by the Springfield Armory, which occupied one side of the street, while the other side held businesses. Once we hit Mason Square, our independent section began with quick turns onto Saint James Ave and Bay Street. This was a narrower road than State Street, and it was almost entirely residential, aside from a bit of retail at each intersection.

One of those retail intersections.
Eventually, a cemetery took up one side of the road while we passed a housing development. After that, Bay Street became industrial all of a sudden...but only on the left side of the street. The other side was just woods! Finally, the trees were broken by the huge Springfield Central High School.

A field for the school.
It was houses once again after that, but there was an apartment development as we turned onto Berkshire Ave. However, that went back to houses, at least for a bit until some industrial buildings cropped up. We went over some train tracks, and after a little more industry on the other side, it became residential once more.

Houses, houses, houses.
Outside of a gas station, the route splits. Some trips stay on Berkshire Ave, but others, like mine, go via Page Boulevard. This road passed a cemetery, then we turned onto Goodwin Street, which curved its way through a monochromatic apartment development. Now, at this next point, we could've just gone down Oak Street and met up with the other routing. However, for some strange reason, the PVTA elected to have the route take tiny side streets to get there: Pasco Road, Essex Street, and Myrtle Street.

Back on the main route!
We turned onto Berkshire Street for a block, then we turned onto Oak Street. Again, why didn't we just go right onto Oak Street? Who knows? We turned onto Main Street next, and we were in some sort of "downtown"? It had some pretty nice-looking buildings, but most of them were just empty, even though they would be perfect for stores and restaurants.

A little before the "downtown."
There were dense houses and some businesses, but they eventually switched to industrial buildings and suburban businesses with parking lots. We merged onto Ludlow Ave, which took us over the Chicopee River into, yes, Ludlow! Next, we headed onto East Street, passing a shopping center, a park, and a few other businesses.

Coming into Ludlow.
We turned onto Sewell Street, which started out with with a bit more retail that quickly turned to houses. Eventually we merged into Center Street and went under I-90. Right on the other side was the Big Y, which is what the PVTA chooses to call the B6's terminus...even though it's actually a shopping plaza with a number of other stores, and the bus stops as far away from the Big Y as possible.

Ready to go back!
PVTA Route: B6 (Union Station/Ludlow via Bay Street)

Ridership: For some reason, the B6s I've seen have always been pretty light, but apparently the route does get very good ridership. It's the eighth-busiest route on the system and it gets about 23 passengers per trip.

Pros: The B6 carves a straight path (for the most part) up towards northeastern Springfield and Ludlow. It has excellent service, running every 20 minutes on weekdays, every half hour on Saturdays, and every hour on Sundays.

Cons: First of all, the Pasco Road/Goodwin Street variant is just a curvy weird mess - it could take a much simpler route. Also, the Sunday service is just ridiculous. The route essentially deviates to Ludlow Big Y, then comes back to the Eastfield Mall and ends there...and on the way back, it deviates AGAIN to the Big Y. Why does it need to do it again? Why does it serve Eastfield Mall in the first place?

Nearby and Noteworthy: I utilized Joanne's Arts and Crafts at the "Ludlow Big Y" for a project, and I must say, I was happy with their services. Hooray! As for the rest of the route...eh.

Final Verdict: 7/10
Overall, despite a few weird twists, turns, and deviations, it's hard to hate the B6. It's frequent, it serves a lot, and it gets pretty good ridership. It's also (essentially) the only route to serve Ludlow, unless you want to count the B12's service to the Hampden County Jail. I don't.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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