Friday, October 6, 2017

PVTA: G2 (East Springfield via Carew/Belmont-Dwight)

We're getting to some of the PVTA's really long local routes! The G2 forms a big crescent, running from the Memorial Industrial Park in northeast Springfield, down to Union Station, and back out to southeastern Springfield and East Longmeadow. Let's see what the journey is like!

I see that X92 lurking in the background...
We made our way out of the industrial park via Memorial Drive and Roosevelt Ave, which took us over a train track and I-291. I was worried that this would be another empty trip like the X92, but I didn't have to - even at the very first stop after we turned onto Page Boulevard, there were a few people waiting to get on. There were various businesses along here with houses on the side streets, but it got more residential when the street became Saint James Boulevard.

Pretty ugly...
There were lots of businesses at the intersection with Saint James AVE (lots of Saint James's!), then we merged into Carew Street and got a median for a bit. After going by the Springfield Renaissance School, the street became lined with houses. We also passed an elementary school, as well as retail at the intersections with Newbury Street and Liberty Street.

A side street.
There were more businesses, as well as a church, at Armory Street. From there, we passed a hospital and many more houses, and then it was time for another hospital. This one, Mercy Hospital, was big enough to warrant a deviation, so we briefly headed down Cass Street to get in there. Coming back to Carew Street, it was starting to get more urban.

The intersection with Chestnut Street.
There were lots of different buildings on the next two blocks, ranging from a giant apartment tower to some small churches. We turned onto Main Street next, a wide street that took us under I-291. After some office buildings and a post office, we turned into Union Station, where there was a huge turnover of riders.

Coming out of Union.
We went back onto Main Street after Union Station, and after going under the train tracks of the station, we were in downtown Springfield. There were tall buildings with retail everywhere! We had to make a construction-based detour on State, Maple, and Union Streets, but soon enough we were back on Main.

Darn it!
It was almost entirely retail for a while, albeit in much shorter buildings than before. Eventually we turned off Main Street onto Locust Street, which became Belmont Street - this had dense houses and apartments. The retail came back soon enough, though, and it culminated at The X, a six-way intersection with businesses all around.

Some retail and houses on another street.
After The X, Belmont Street was almost entirely dense houses. There were a few stores as we merged onto White Street, joining the X90. However, soon after that, the G2 splits into two: one variation follows the X90 to its terminus at the East Longmeadow Big Y, while the other heads down Dwight Road. I was on the latter, so we turned onto that.

Looks like a nice neighborhood!
Aside from a church at one point, this was just dense houses for a while. They eventually started to get further apart, and we were just speeding by everything - there was only one other person on board at this point. We spent a while passing a golf course, then after some offices, we went from Longmeadow to East Longmeadow. And then, out of nowhere, we reached the terminus: the Redstone Nursing Home. This whole thing seemed kinda pointless...

Looping around the home.
I'll briefly touch upon the East Longmeadow Big Y routing, even though I didn't get to do it. The route basically travels down North Main Street past lots of trashy-looking businesses. First, the route deviates to serve Stop & Shop, then it pulls into the Big Y and presumably waits a while, since the schedule is set up for the route to be early here. Cool!

At least the Big Y is an actual...like...place where people want to go. This is at the nursing home.
PVTA Route: G2 (East Springfield via Carew/Belmont-Dwight)

Ridership: Oh yeah, the ridership on this thing is great - the route averages about 31 people per trip. My ride had a lot more people on the northern section, but that could be because it was the morning so more people were going into town, and also because my trip wasn't going to the Big Y. Either way, I'm sure both sections get good ridership...except for that Dwight Road variant!

Pros: The G2 serves a lot, including lots of dense residential and retail areas of Springfield. It's also really frequent for PVTA standards, running every 20 minutes on weekdays, every half hour on Saturdays, and every hour on Sundays. It's an interesting choice to have this be one route that goes right through Union Station instead of being two separate routes, but I think it works fine in the G2's case.

Cons: There are a few weird quirks in the schedule that are worth addressing. For one thing, the weekday schedule has a few half hour gaps and a few ten minute gaps, the former resulting in a really crowded bus and the latter resulting in a really empty bus. It would be nice if it was a little more consistent. Also, do we really need the Dwight Road variant? The one person who stayed on down there was just a friend of the driver, and she took the bus straight back. All it does is add weird service gaps to East Longmeadow Big Y service, where I'm sure the ridership is much higher.

Nearby and Noteworthy: There are a lot of small businesses along the route, as well as bigger shopping plazas on the East Longmeadow section.

Final Verdict: 8/10
This is one of the better routes on the PVTA. It serves some dense important neighborhoods, gets lots of ridership, and operates with frequent service. Those scheduling quirks definitely make my heart weep a bit, but they're generally few and far between. Dwight Road seems like a real waste, though...

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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