Monday, October 16, 2017

PVTA: G1 (Chicopee/Sumner-Allen/Canon Circle)

The G1 is honestly the most legit-feeling bus route on the PVTA. Sure, the B7 is busier and more frequent, but the deviations along the route still make it feel like an RTA. The G1, meanwhile, could honestly pass for a T bus route in Boston, at least for most of it.

Okay, not this part.
Granted, the route does start with a double-deviation. Sam and I got on the bus (which was 10 minutes late, of all things) at the Big Y, but it deviates to serve Walmart before that. I would like to point out that I was originally going to take this route on a different day, but the only mention of the Walmart deviation being first is a tiny footnote at the bottom of the schedule with no asterisks leading down to it. Heck, the route's line map even shows Walmart as being the second stop! So yeah...needless to say, I didn't realize it serves Walmart first, and I missed the bus waiting there. Thanks, G1!

Coming onto Memorial Drive.
We turned onto Memorial Drive, a wide road with suburban businesses and parking lots on either side. They got a little sparser after we went under I-90, and in fact, it even got a little woodsy. There were a few more businesses, then we went over the Chicopee River, where there was an amazing view.

On the other side of the bridge.
After the river had been crossed, we turned onto Main Street, then Grove Street. There were businesses at first, but Grove Street added some apartments to the mix. We merged onto Front Street next, which was mostly retail, but there were a few random houses in there as well.

A residential side street.
We went by a park, then it started to get more urban, with lots of different buildings lining the road. There were dense houses, businesses, a library, a basilica, and a school, among other things! We soon entered Chicopee Center, where we turned onto Cabot Street, taking us through the really boring and run-down downtown.

Oh, gross!
We passed a post office and a small park, then we merged into Center Street. After a mix of auto shops and normal retail, the road grew really wide for an interchange with I-391 and we came up alongside the Connecticut River. It was woodsy for a little while, but it got industrial after we went under I-91.

Some random auto shop.
Soon we entered Springfield, and the street became Main Street. We went through part of the Baystate Medical Center complex, then we went under I-91 again. On the other side, there was a gas station, a post office, and some businesses later on. We also passed the PVTA garage; there are lots of short-turn "G1" trips that pull back here from other routes.

A side street.
From that point, Main Street was basically lined with businesses for quite a while. Eventually it grew really wide and we went under I-291 (so many highways to go under!) and past some office buildings. Finally, we came into Union Station, the midpoint of the route. There were a lot of people waiting to get on.

Union Station!
We returned to Main Street, going under the Union Station tracks and past lots of buildings and businesses. The buildings were tall for a while until eventually they lowered and it became just pure retail. There were also some apartments and churches mixed in there, too. Also, did I mention the bus was packed by this point?

This is getting a little ridiculous! Remember, this isn't the MBTA!
Eventually we merged onto Locust Street, then another merge onto Fort Pleasant Ave. This was a wide road lined almost entirely with dense houses. Next, we turned onto Sumner Ave, which was...basically the same. We passed a park, and there were lots of businesses when we went through The X, but it was back to houses after that.

Leafy!
There were a few bits of retail at certain points, but it was almost entirely residential by now. Also, at some point along here...we were passed by another G1. I'll repeat: we were passed by another G1. THIS IS AN RTA ROUTE WITH BUNCHING! HOW COOL IS THAT?? Okay, it was also kind of annoying, but still!

Houses, houses, houses...
We merged into Allen Street, which was one-way, and it continued to be the same kind of housing as before (aside from an apartment development at one point). Once the two one-way roads merged back together, there were suburban businesses with parking lots, mostly to the south. Allen Street eventually got narrower, and after a run through a semi-woodsy area, we turned onto Cooley Street.

More, more, more houses.
After some regular residential areas, we turned onto Canon Circle, which was home to Spring Meadow Apartments. We looped around the development, then made our way back up Cooley Street. This time, we bypassed Allen Street in order to deviate to both Stop & Shop and Five Town Plaza. Yeah, the G1 feels like a legitimate bus route except at both of its termini...

More people! Poor bus!
Two G1's going in opposite directions - the one on the left was our bunch.
PVTA Route: G1 (Chicopee/Sumner-Allen/Canon Circle)

Ridership: This is the third-busiest route on the PVTA, so...yeah, it gets great ridership. It averages about 33 passengers per trip, but my late bus got absolutely packed, as you could see! The buncher behind us wasn't that busy...

Pros: The G1 provides frequent service to lots of dense parts of Springfield and Chicopee. By "frequent," I mean every 20 minutes on weekdays, every half hour on Saturdays, and every 45 minutes on Sundays. This is an important route!

Cons: Wow, as it would turn out, I have a lot of problems with this route. First of all, the G1 is decidedly busier than the P20 (not by much, but still), yet the P20 is far more frequent on weekends. Also, the whole Walmart thing with the G1 bothers me - it needs to be way more obvious in the schedule that the route serves Walmart first. Finally, there's the fact that this is a huge beast of a route that clearly gets late a lot. It seems like it would be better to split it into two - are there really that many people going from one side to the other, anyway? If it was two routes, I'm sure the on-time performance would be much better.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Meh, I didn't see much of note along here. The malls and stuff that it serves are probably the most interesting places, since downtown Springfield and Chicopee Center are not.

Final Verdict: 6/10
Huh...okay, well, turns out I dislike the G1 more than I thought I would. It's an important route, but in that vein, it feels like it should be more frequent on weekends. As for the Walmart bit, I think I wouldn't care if I hadn't experienced it the hard way, but I did, so now I'm a big advocate for making the footnote on the schedule way more obvious! And then there's the lateness...this seems to be the one PVTA route that normally gets late (from my experience, at least), and I think a good way of fixing this would be to split the G1 at Union Station. That way, late buses would get some layover time and they wouldn't have to stay late all the way to the other side of the route.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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