Monday, November 13, 2017

GATRA: Wareham/Middleborough/Lakeville MBTA Connector

GATRA! GATRA GATRA GATRA GATRA GATRA! I MISSED YOU, MY FRIEND! IT'S BEEN TOO LONG! LET'S HEAD DOWN TO WAREHAM ON THE...UH..."Wareham/Middleborough/Lakeville MBTA Connector." Really slips off the tongue, GATRA.

Wait, that says "OWL Link 4"...
Ah, so it turns out that the "Wareham/Middleborough/Lakeville MBTA Connector" is actually an extension of the Link 4 in Wareham. This leads to some confusion between the two, which we'll talk about later. Also, the route was using one of those horrible "truck" minibuses that I can't stand - the suspension is horrible, the bus is loud, and the wheelchair lift is extra-jiggly.

I can see into Lakeville!
We made our way out of the Middleborough/Lakeville parking lot onto Commercial Drive, then we turned onto South Main Street. This took us under I-495, and outside of some suburban businesses, we turned onto East Grove Street. There was a huge variety of scenery along here, including schools, houses, and businesses.

Some gross scenery.
The buildings started to get sparser eventually, with patches of forest becoming more common. There was still that mix of houses and businesses with the buildings that remained, though. We went under I-495 again, and after some more diverse places (including a cemetery exclusively for pets), we arrived at the South Middleborough timepoint, which isn't anywhere special.

A rear view shot!
We went by a cemetery (for humans this time), a church, and a fire station, then it became primarily residential, albeit with a few random industrial buildings here and there. At one point, we passed some cranberry bogs, the hallmark of this part of Massachusetts. It got industrial for a little while after that, at least until we hit some retail at the intersection with County Road.

Some of that industry.
A few things happened during this section. Firstly, we entered Wareham and the road became Cranberry Highway. Secondly, right after County Road, one of the bus's passengers got out at the Wareham District Court...with a briefcase! Someone had actually taken the train out to Middleborough and used the GATRA to reverse-commute to work! That is the craziest thing ever!

Someone commuted here!!!!!!
We went over a small river, then passed more houses and cranberry bogs. It got more industrial later on, with factories and warehouses everywhere. And just when I thought that for once GATRA had the ability to create a logical bus route...we deviated into a Walmart. A Walmart! On a rush hour-only commuter route! ARE YOU SERIOUS?

ARGH!
But perhaps that was a fluke. A one-off. We came back to Cranberry Highway, where surely we would be able to keep on chugging towards our terminus. But after travelling for a block, literally a block, we made another deviation to serve a shopping mall!!!!

ARRHGHRHGHHGRHHRHJHJGHGGHGGHGHG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After the double-deviation had been performed (garnering no passengers, incidentally), we returned to Cranberry Highway and went over I-195. There was a mixture of industrial buildings and businesses on the other side of the crossing. However, there were a few houses after we went over the Wareham River, but it went back to what we were seeing before pretty quickly.

Cranberry bogs!
There was a whole smorgasbord of different uses for a while, but we got a brief section of woods as Cranberry Highway split into two one-way sections. Once that traffic pattern ended, there were suburban businesses with parking lots everywhere, and we pulled into our terminus, Cranberry Plaza. Time to ride some more GATRA buses from here!

Nope, still says "OWL LINK 4."
GATRA Route: Wareham/Middleborough/Lakeville MBTA Connector

Ridership: This route gets very low ridership, with only about 25 passengers per day. That averages out to a mere two people per trip, which is indeed the exact number of people mine had.

Pros: Still, despite the very low ridership, I think GATRA has something here. Seeing even one person using the bus to reverse-commute was promising, and the route offers even better opportunities for regular commuters. It only runs during rush hour, but for the most part, it times quite well with trains running in both directions.

Cons: Don't get me wrong, though, this route has a lot of problems. First of all, there's that stupid double-deviation. Eliminate it. This bus is not for shopping. Secondly, the route should be considered separate from the Link 4. At the moment, they're sort of considered to be the same route, but all it does is lead to confusion, particularly on the schedule for the 4. And finally, there's the ridership. Yes, it's very low. Solutions range from running fewer trips to advertising the route better - anything they can do to get more people onto this thing is great, because this could be a very valuable connection.

Nearby and Noteworthy: If you ever wanted to get to Wareham by local bus, this is the way to do it. There's a water park next to Cranberry Plaza!

Final Verdict: 4/10
I really think this route has potential. The area it serves is an isolated dead zone for transit to Boston, but this route could theoretically bridge the gap into the city. If the deviations were eliminated, it could offer a straight, direct trip to the Commuter Rail. Maybe a section of Cranberry Plaza could be used as a park-and-ride so people from the area can come in and take the bus to the train. Until then, though, this is a very underperforming route, and it will continue to be that way until a change is made.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

4 comments:

  1. Why would you need a park and ride to the train when the train station at Middleboro/Lakeville has more than enough parking? It would create a solution where there is no problem.

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    Replies
    1. If more people take the bus from Wareham to Middleborough, then that's less carbon emissions from cars and less traffic on the roads.

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    2. People won’t take that extra step when it will add at least 30 minutes to their commute every day. Why would anyone do that? It’s unnecessary and silly.

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    3. It can be done. An example on the GATRA itself is the Medway Shuttle, which goes from the Medway Middle School (which has parking for commuters) to Norfolk Station. It has three AM trips and three PM trips, and it's GATRA's most productive route: 36.4 passengers per revenue hour and a mere $1.30 in subsidies per passenger.

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