Friday, February 23, 2018

WRTA: 16 (Union Station Hub - Lincoln Plaza via Hamilton Street and Lake Ave)

Let's just keep on going around the loop we started with the 31! The 16 is the eastern side of the two-route loop, and it's got a few more deviations up its sleeve. Let's take this back into Worcester.

The bus at the Lincoln Mall.
We headed out from the Lincoln Mall onto Lincoln Street, running past some suburban businesses and industrial buildings. They continued after a roundabout, but we soon turned onto the woodsy Lake Ave. It took us under I-290, after which we pulled into a clinic. It was a well-planned deviation, however, as we used it to get onto the wide Plantation Street.

Nathan and I were up front talking to the really nice driver, so we'll have some interesting front-view pictures for this review!
We were more or less in the woods (aside from Plantation Towers Apartments, which a few trips deviate into) until a huge parking garage came out of nowhere. This was a sign that we were getting close to the UMass Medical Center campus, and sure enough, there were now huge hospital buildings everywhere. We turned onto South Road, entering the campus.

Some traffic on the way to the medical center.
We went around a roundabout back onto Lake Ave, taking us past some businesses and apartment buildings. One of them, Lincoln Park Towers, required a harrowing deviation down a narrow and hilly driveway into the complex. After struggling to make our way out onto the road again, it got more residential, with a ton of dense houses along the lake we were running with.

Stuck at a red light coming out of Lincoln Park Towers.
The road got a median and we entered a park, where we turned onto Hamilton Street. We entered a hilly residential neighborhood here, with suburban houses lining the twisty road. It gained a median, and the homes were slowly getting denser as we got closer to downtown Worcester.

Some houses, with the foggy North High School in the background.
The houses became apartments by the time we got to Billings Square, which was more of an egg-shaped roundabout than a square. There were some nondescript businesses here, and they continued past there on Grafton Street. It got industrial just before we went under I-290, and finally, we used Franklin Street to get around into the Central Hub.

The spires of Union Station await!
WRTA Route: 16 (Union Station Hub - Lincoln Plaza via Hamilton Street and Lake Ave)

Ridership: This end of the loop gets much less ridership than the 31's section, with 380 riders on weekdays and 157 on Saturdays. My trip showcased the low trend, getting just four people going into Worcester.

Pros: The route serves eastern Worcester, some of which is dense and some of which isn't. The UMass Medical Center connection is made a lot more useful with the loop arrangement, since riders from the 31 can continue on to the medical center. Just in general, this thing is way more useful with the loop!

Cons: First of all, the 16 has the same weird schedule as the 31, including the random weekday switch from every 40 minutes to every 80 minutes around 4 PM (but this time, it's in the outbound direction). Also, the Saturday service is just six trips, also every 80 minutes. The 16 has the additional problem of too many deviations, including a few apartment ones that only get served at certain times or in certain directions. It also costs more than double the 31 for the WRTA to run.

Nearby and Noteworthy: This is the closest route to the Ecotarium, Worcester's local science and nature museum. It looks like a great family experience, although the museum is a 15 minute walk away from the route.

Final Verdict: 5/10
Between the 16 and the 31, the 16 is definitely worse. It suffers from all the schedule problems on the 31, but it also gets less ridership and has more deviations. This isn't a bad route, per se, but it's certainly the lesser of the two sides of this loop.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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