Sunday, May 20, 2018

Join us on a Race to Chelsea!

Do you want to be in a Miles on the MBTA video? Do you want to see if the SL3 is actually the fastest way to Chelsea? Do you want to meet me and a bunch of other fans of the blog as we race there and back? We're going to be staging a race using five different routes to get from Park Street to Bellingham Square and back on June 8th, meeting at 4:15 PM at Park Street. Other people there whom you may recognize from some of our videos will be Sam, Nathan, Josh, Jaret, and Jordan. For more information and to sign up, please fill out this form. Due to space constraints, we won't be able to invite everyone who applies.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

MART: Athol/Orange Link

Yes! We're finally leaving Athol! We're on our way home! Let's just wait at the Athol ITC and get the lovely Athol/Orange Link, and...oh God, what is that...

TRUCK MINIBUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm just gonna come out and say it: this was the second-worst transit vehicle I've ever been on (here's the first). It was noisy, the suspension was nonexistent, the roof was like tinfoil, water came streaming into the bus from all directions, the wheelchair was insanely jiggly, and the whole thing smelled like cigarettes. IT. WAS. UNBEARABLE. Nathan put it best: "Every bump is like losing a part of my sanity that I can't get back." Exactly.

EW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'll be clear that Nathan, Sam, and I didn't get this route from the beginning. It actually starts at Hannaford on the border with Orange, then it makes its way from there to Athol via an Ocean State Job Lot deviation. We boarded at the Athol ITC for three reasons: 1) The Athol/Orange Shuttle (the loopy one - these names are confusing!) already more or less covers the route from Hannaford to Athol; 2) If we had actually started at Hannaford, it would've required waiting an hour and a half there; and 3) WE DIDN'T HAVE TO STAY ON THE TRUCK MINIBUS AS LONG IF WE GOT ON AT THE ITC.

A church.
We headed down School Street, a mostly residential road, then we turned onto Main Street. We passed Uptown Common, a small...common, with some retail clustered around it, then a few minutes later, we deviated into the Athol Hospital. Main Street became Templeton Road from there, and it was forest until we suddenly pulled into a modern shopping complex to serve a Market Basket.

In the shopping center.
Continuing east, we finally finally FINALLY left Athol, entering Phillipston. It was all woods as we curved our way under Route 2. There were a few random suburban businesses here and there, then some houses and a fire station later on. At an interchange with Route 2 (where we went under the highway again), there was a major route timepoint: the...uh...King Phillip Restaurant. Huh.

Trees, trees, trees.
We entered Templeton on the other side of Route 2, and it was...yeah, I mean, basically more woods. Turning onto Patriots Road, it was  just houses on occasion and that's it. We went under Route 2 again and it started to get a little "denser," with some more houses and a cemetery. Soon, we arrived at Templeton Center, which consisted of a common, a church, a few businesses, a post office, and this actually cool-looking museum. Strangely, the bus did a jog onto South Road, about 50 feet from Patriots Road, to make its stop. You don't really serve anything extra by pulling off for a 50-foot jog...

A gazebo in Templeton Center.
It felt at least a little like civilization beyond Templeton Center; there were at least some houses along Patriots Road. We crossed Route 2 for what would be the final time, going over it this time, and on the other side was East Templeton Center. Strangely, this center was somewhat dense and actually had a decent amount of businesses. Templeton Town Hall was even located here!

Now that is an awesome paint job.
We merged onto Gardner Road, which was still tons of forest, but there were a few industrial buildings here and there. The street became Parker Street when we entered...UGH...Gardner. After going over a railroad track, it suddenly got really dense, with houses and apartments lining the road.

Talk about a change in scenery!
We had to do a deviation to the Gardner Highrise apartment building via Waterford, Church, and Marquette Streets - that was annoying. Just before hitting downtown Gardner, we turned onto Nichols Street then made a right onto City Hall Ave, serving, yes, Gardner City Hall. And though it would've been fantastic if the horrible truck minibus ride was over, this route goes further to the Gardner MWCC Campus. More time on a truck minibus...yay...

A side street in downtown Gardner.
We could now enter downtown Gardner after serving City Hall, so we headed up Main Street and ran past all the, er, lovely retail of Gardner. It became Central Street and we soon left the center, running past houses, old industrial buildings, and churches. We used a rotary to get around onto Woodland Ave, which was lined with houses until the Heywood Hospital. Soon after that, we turned onto the MWCC driveway, and...oh my gosh, the ride was over. THE TRUCK MINIBUS RIDE WAS OVER! NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THIS IS THE LAST REVIEW I'LL EVER HAVE TO DO IN GARDNER!!!!!! LET'S CELEBRATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

EW! EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW!!!!!!
MART Route: Athol/Orange Link

Ridership: Wow, this route's ridership has gone down quite a lot over time. In 2014, the route got 25,522 people per year, or around 105 per day. That's gone down to 13,883 people in 2017, equalling about 58 people per day. Ouch! Granted, in 2014, the route went all the way out to Orange, so maybe eliminating that section lost riders? I'm not sure if it's enough to cut the people in half, though. Our trip, incidentally, got one other person.

Pros: This route is direct and highly necessary. It gets a lot of usage from students commuting to MWCC from Athol, but it's also just a really important link - it's Athol's one connection towards Boston (eventually). Using one bus, the route runs every 90 minutes weekdays only, which makes sense - we're not exactly in the city here.

Cons: OH, YOU MEAN OTHER THAN THE HORRIBLE EXCUSE OF A VEHICLE THAT THAT LEAKY, DISGUSTING, NOISY TRASHBUCKET TRUCK MINIBUS WAS??!?!?!?!??! Well, it just doesn't get a lot of people, and I don't quite know why that is. Perhaps ridership would increase if buses were extended to Orange Center, but they would have to run every two hours if that happened, which isn't optimal.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Take your pick: a depressing big city (Gardner) or a depressing small town (Athol). I'll take Athol, personally - at least it has trees and stuff.

Final Verdict: 5/10
It's too bad this route gets so few people, because I think it's a rather good one. Athol needs that connection to the outside world because it's such an isolated place, and I wish more people would take advantage of this direct trip to Gardner. Maybe it's because it's only every hour and a half. Maybe it's because it doesn't go to Orange. Or MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE IT WAS USING THE WORST BUS EVER ARAHGEHAEIEOMKLMGMGAELMLKMG!!!!! Okay, I'll stop...

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

MART: Athol/Orange Shuttle 1/2 (Counterclockwise/Clockwise)

Man, this route is out there! It officially gets to a point where it's closer to the New York border than it is to Boston. Interestingly, this far-out land has had a bus route for a while; this deviation-filled loopy-loop used to be operated by a company called Community Transit before MART took it over. It's funny, MART is treated like some bloodthirsty multinational corporation out here, even though it's actually a tiny RTA in the grand scheme of things. We're definitely not in Kansas anymore! So, let's take a look at this crazy route out here in almost-western Mass.

Well...what other kind of bus would it have used?
Nathan, Sam, and I caused a revolution in the town of Athol: we brought in the fabled CharlieCard. As it turned out, the bus was equipped with a CharlieCard reader, but the driver said he had never ever used it before. It was very exciting to be quite possibly the first people on this route ever to use a CharlieCard, and the driver was super impressed by the "technology."

This side paper said "Shuttle 1" while a paper on the dash said "Shuttle 2"! We were on the 2, for the record.
Like most MART in-town shuttles, this one consists of a loop that has separate "routes" running clockwise and counterclockwise. This is by far the longest one MART runs, with each circuit taking a full hour and a half! The crazy length of the trip was exemplified when someone was about to board here at the Athol ITC. "Do you go to Market Basket?" the person asked. "Eventually," the driver responded. The passenger ended up waiting for the other bus.

We're off!
We left the Athol ITC on Traverse Street, running past a few businesses on the outskirts of downtown. We soon turned onto Carbon Street, taking us under some train tracks, then we turned onto Hapgood Street on the other side. The scenery consisted of houses at first, but once the street became South Athol Road, it passed a few industrial buildings. Also, this whole time, the driver was regaling us with fascinating stories about his childhood and the history of Athol. "None of this was here when I was a kid," he said.

Woods.
As we came close to the Millers River, where a huge canoe race happens annually, we entered the forest. It was basically all trees everywhere, but once we turned onto Partridgeville Road, houses started to show up more often. "My dad built that house," the driver said as we passed one of them. He also told us about how he knew everybody in the area. "And I mean everybody," he said.

I like that wooden fence!
We went by a few apartment developments, then we turned onto Daniel Shays Highway. The driver had another story: "See that house on the corner? Everyone in the neighborhood thought the two women who lived in there were witches. My friends and I were the only ones brave enough to go there on Halloween, and we always got all their candy! They turned out to be the nicest ladies..."

Don't pass!
We deviated into Quabbin Valley Healthcare, a small clinic, then we came back a ways down Daniel Shays Highway. Next up was a right on East River Street, running through some forest before coming out into a clearing for Orange Municipal Airport - we were now in that town. The airport was on one side of the road, while the other side had a trailer park.

Pine Crest Apartments are this way.
We went by the Pine Crest Apartments, the Orange Police Department, and a solar farm all at once, then we briefly came up to the Millers River again. It was a residential neighborhood here, but we also went by a park and some old industrial buildings. We entered the neighborhood further by turning onto Hayden Street, and this was almost all residential.

Houses on a side street.
It turned out that we were in here for a deviation to the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School. Interesting choice to have the bus deviate there all day, but okay. We headed back up through the neighborhood on South Main Street, which not only had the houses from before, but also some retail, a few churches, and a post office.

There's a lot of character in this old church.
We were almost in Orange Center, but first we had to do a deviation onto West River Street, which was lined with houses. It curved its way up into sparser neighborhoods, eventually culminating with the West River Health Center. After that deviation had been completed, we went all the way back to South Main Street and used it to cross the Millers River.

Going over the river.
We finally came into Orange Center, turning onto Water Street. After going by the Orange Fire Department and crossing a single train track, we pulled up on the other side of the street from a decrepit shelter. "Hey Joe!" the driver called to someone sitting in the shelter. "Are you gonna sit there all day?" Joe, looking dazed, slowly nodded his head. "Okay!" said the driver as we pulled away. Also worth noting: this shelter kept its FRTA branding unlike at the Athol ITC, because the FRTA actually comes here! One could travel from Orange to Greenfield if they so wished!

A nice-looking hair place in Orange Center.
We turned onto East Main Street, running down the short and mostly boring main drag of Orange Center, but the street became West Main Street when we crossed the intersection with North Main Street and South Main Street. Gosh, what an intersection! After a brief pullover so the driver could receive a call regarding evening plans (uhh...), it instantly became residential on West Main Street, at least until we deviated into the Orange Innovation Center. Sounds like a cool place!

Of all the places to find an "innovation center," Orange is one of the strangest!
We returned to Orange Center on Main Street, but this time we passed straight through and continued going eastward from there. There were a bunch of dense houses along here, but retail was also mixed in at certain places. Things started to get sparser as we came up alongside the Millers River, then we did a deviation to good ol' Walmart.

FRTA SIGHTING!!!!!
East of Walmart, Main Street became a much smaller road as it curved away into a mostly residential area. We turned onto Brookside Road, going over the train track and passing a big auto shop before the neighborhood turned to houses. Entering Athol once more, we headed over that train track again near a cemetery, then we turned west onto South Main Street. (all these Main Streets are confusing!)

What an interesting place to put a boat shop.
We deviated into Hannaford, where the driver said hi to practically every single person in the parking lot. He wasn't kidding when he said he knew everybody in the area! From there, we came back out and went east down South Main Street. There was a brief section where it was just forest and the occasional homes, but we soon reentered civilization. There were dense houses, some businesses, and an apartment development before we crossed the Millers River.

Some industrial-looking buildings on a side street.
We were almost in Athol Center, but at the last second, we used Freedom Street to deviate into a very depressing Ocean State Job Lot. Now we could come back to Main Street and run through Athol's downtown, which was just like Orange's except bigger and with a few more interesting businesses. Finally, we turned onto School Street and pulled up to the Athol ITC. Were we done???

A view of the ITC.
HA! No! We still had the eastern side of the loop to do! There was still another 40 minutes of minibus fun to be had! Unfortunately, a bridge we were supposed to take was out of commission because of a storm the night before, so we had to take a detour. Thus, we turned around from the ITC and used the Crescent Street bridge to get over the Millers River.

A rather bleak scene.
There were huge old factories along Crescent Street, but once we turned onto Lake Street, we entered a residential neighborhood with dense houses. We turned onto Pequoig Ave, where the homes continued, with the added bonus of a playground! The road curved north to become Pinedale Ave, where the buildings lost some of their density, but it came back once we turned onto Lenox Street.

A little convenience store.
It was a right on Silver Lake Street next, and it was more of the same, give or take a cemetery. We used Chestnut Hill Ave to get over the Millers River, getting a nice view of a gigantic old factory building. Next, we turned onto Main Street, which continued to be mostly residential, but there was a retail-oriented section centered around Uptown Common at the intersection with Chestnut Street.

The old factory and the river.
We deviated into the tiny Athol Hospital, then we returned to Main Street and went by businesses, a fire station, and the Athol High School. Main Street became Templeton Road and went through the woods for a while, but we finally broke out and entered a modern shopping center. Once we were done serving that, it was time to go alllllllll the way back the way we had come...

Going alongside a tiny creek.
Well, not quite: we did get to do an extra deviation coming back. Yes, turning onto Pleasant Street, we ran through a residential neighborhood before looping around at the Athol/Royalston Middle School! Lots of people going there at 1:30, yes indeed!

Nice...
So then it was back to Main Street, and we stayed on that for a while before reaching a new section of the route by heading down School Street. There were dense houses along here, and they continued as we went down Cottage Street, eventually serving an apartment development. We turned onto Harrington Ave, then Sanders Street, and that led us to Carbon Street. We went up Exchange Street, took a right at Main Street, and finally made the final turn to arrive back at the Athol ITC. That ride was SO LONG!!!!!!!!!!

That was truly a slog.
MART Route: Athol/Orange Shuttle 1/2 (Counterclockwise/Clockwise)

Ridership: For such an awful shuttle, it's funny that this thing does get some people. I mean...okay, only around 75 per day, but that's something! I guess it is pretty bad, though, when you realize that that number represents both the 1 and the 2, and each trip takes an hour and a half.

Pros: Athol is a much larger town than I originally thought, and it definitely needs a bus route. I guess that town whose name is oh-so-easy to make fun of is more substantial than we realized! Orange is a lot smaller, but it makes sense to connect the two towns up.

Cons: It's an hour and a half of just endless deviations! It was bad enough having to sit through it on the jiggly minibus, but reliving it again when writing this post was almost just as bad! The 90-minute frequency is awful, too, but man, the one thing on my mind right now is just how crazy the darn route is.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Please just get me out of here. I WANT TO GO HOME!

Final Verdict: 3/10
These routes are long and all over the place, but honestly, I think the residents are completely okay with that. We'll just leave them be, alright? Meanwhile, please get me out of Athol! I'll do anything! I'll even ride a horrible truck minibus! Wait...uh-oh...

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Monday, May 14, 2018

MART: Athol ITC

Oh no, ATHOL has an "intermodal transit center" too? This has to be even worse than the Gardner one, right? Well, right off the bat, I'll say this: the Athol ITC is in an old train station, so it's more "intermodal" than Gardner's transit center is! Plus, the FRTA used to come here, which counts for...something. Maybe.

Hey, this is something!
Well, we've instantly got a better "hub" than the Gardner ITC. Look, it's an actual place to wait! Still, there's no denying this is a lame shelter. Aside from the solar-powered light, the whole thing feels simple, dirty, and outdated - just look at the FRTA logo on the side!

That's pretty cool!
I guess it's worth walking over to where the actual buses are kept. The "yard" here in Athol is actually the old station building, and it's a great old building. I believe this is mostly just used as a parking lot, with buses having to drive to Gardner in order to get serviced and whatnot. Alright, so I guess that concludes our Athol ITC review...

WAIT, YOU CAN ACTUALLY GO IN?????
HANG ON, YOU CAN ACTUALLY ENTER THE ATHOL ITC! AND IT'S NOT A FLUKE LIKE THE GARDNER ONE! THERE ARE SCHEDULES RIGHT WHEN YOU COME IN, AND THEN THERE'S A DOOR THAT HAS A BUTTON THAT CAN BE USED TO OPEN IT AND EVERYTHING! OH MY GOSH, LET'S KEEP GOING!!!!!!

WOW!!!!
Okay, in all seriousness, the place is pretty strange. Everything just feels strewn together: there are different seats, tables, and desks in random places, as well as pure junk lying around. The place is under renovation, so that could be part of it. Still, regardless of how unprofessional it feels, there's no doubt that the Athol ITC has a very charming and homely feeling to it that I like a lot. Also: it's got a bathroom!

Yeah, it's a little all over the place...
MART Station: Athol ITC

Ridership: Probably very few people. I mean, it's Athol. The two routes that serve this hub are all every 90 minutes!

Pros: The actual indoor part of this hub is awesome! It's a little all over the place, but it does have a lot of charm, and it's very welcoming (unlike the Gardner ITC). As for the shelter where you actually wait for the buses, it's...functional.

Cons: It's strange that the indoor section and the shelter are so far apart with no signage. It's only a two minute walk, but I wouldn't be surprised if most people have no idea the building exists!

Nearby and Noteworthy: I dunno. I mean...it's Athol. There's not much here.

Final Verdict: 6/10
The whole place is pretty haphazard, but it has a lot of charm. It's hard not to like all the random paraphernalia thrown around this old train station building! It's really annoying that the building isn't the place where you actually get buses, though, and the signage to the actual bus stop is nonexistent.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Friday, May 11, 2018

MART: Gardner Route 1/2 (Counterclockwise/Clockwise)

Ohhh...we get to go back to...Gardner! And ride a really long, deviation-filled bus route around the whole...city. My...favorite......place..........

YAY! GARDNER!!!!
The bus was very nice, at least. It was that rear door-less Gillig that we had gotten before on the Intercity/MWCC route, and it was just as good of a vehicle as it had been then. A little strange on a city bus, but I'll take it! We left Gardner City Hall and turned onto City Hall Ave for a block before heading up Nichols Street.

Gardner!
We were also on this for a block before turning onto Parker Street, but we were only on this for two blocks! Our next turn was onto the residential Greenwood Street for a block, then Moran Street for a block, then Marquette Street for a block, then Church Street for a block, then a deviation into Gardner Highrise, an apartment building. This route is insane already!

Some houses.
Church Street again for a block, Waterford Street for a block, Parker Street for...oooh, two blocks! It was all houses along here, save for a few businesses where we headed off Parker Street onto Robillard Street. We had to do a jog via Douglas Road to get onto Foss Road, but it was only for, yes, a block, before we turned onto West Street.

Heading onto West.
This took us back to the intersection with Nichols and Parker that we had already visited, and we merged onto Parker. We entered the main downtown of Gardner, which continued as we went down Central Street, and it was one of the most depressing downtowns I've ever been to. Turning onto Pine Street alongside a huge factory that has thankfully been rehabilitated, we went by the Heywood Memorial Library.

Scenes of downtown Gardner...
It was a left onto Cross Street next, which took us past houses, churches, a field, and another huge old factory. At the corner of Cross and Elm, Gardner's "famous" giant chair was visible as we turned onto Elm. This was a residential road, but we saw a huge church as we made our way around an oddly-shaped rotary onto Woodland Ave.

The lonely Pearl Street.
It was all houses along here until the Heywood Hospital, which we surprisingly did not deviate into! We turned onto Matthews Street instead, which was mostly forest aside from Gardner District Court and Mount Wachusett Community College's two huge wind turbines. Speaking of MWCC, we did deviate into that, and it was a lovely time indeed.

The empty MWCC parking lot.
We made our way across a field and turned onto Green Street, which led us back down to the Heywood Hospital. Past the hospital, we were in a residential neighborhood, and we made quick turns onto Bertha Ave, Becky Ave, and Blanchard Street, the last of which went through the Hillside Gardens apartment development. At the end of the road, it was a left onto Pearl Street.

One of the snowy buildings of Hillside Gardens.
It turned out that this was a deviation, and possibly the weirdest one on the route; it took us to a place called Dunn Pond. Not a housing development called Dunn Pond. Not a shopping center called Dunn Pond. Literally just...a pond. Sure, it had a beach, but I rode this route in the winter! No one is going to the beach in the winter!

Get your swim trunks, the water's perfect!
We came back the other way down Pearl Street, running by lots of houses until we reached that oddly-shaped rotary from which we had gone onto Woodland Ave. We went back down Elm Street, and if you remember going the other way up that street from, like, 50 paragraphs ago, that makes everything we had just done a mega-deviation! Luckily, we hit new territory when we made our way onto Chestnut Street.

Looking up a hill.
There were some industrial buildings and suburban businesses where we turned onto Main Street, crossing a decrepit railroad track. We then deviated into Price Chopper, truly a magnificent institution of a supermarket. After that, something really weird happened: the driver said there was a problem with our bus, so we had to drive across the street to the Gardner ITC to get a new one. Would the new bus be just as good as the current one?

Awww...
Nope, it was an awful 30-foot Gillig. Way less fancy than the 40-footer with cushy seats that we were on before. Oh well...we headed back down Main Street and turned again onto Chestnut Street, passing various suburban businesses. We deviated into Gardner Plaza, a bland and boring shopping plaza, then we went under Route 2 via a big rotary.

Some houses and a pizza joint.
It was more suburban businesses on the other side, but it changed to mostly dense houses as we turned onto South Main Street, which merged into East Broadway at "South Gardner Center." We passed a small school, a church, and a few industrial buildings before turning onto Waterview Drive. It went over Mahoney Brook and entered the Heritage Village housing development, but we turned right around upon entering and headed back.

Crossing the brook.
We went through "South Gardner Center" again (I put it in quotes because there isn't much there), but this time we continued down West Broadway. After a level crossing with a railroad track, we crossed over Travers Pond and went by a few homes. It became suburban retail at the intersection with Timpany Boulevard, though, and we turned straight onto that.

The intersection with Timpany Boulevard.
The scenery quickly thinned out into forest, until...hallelujah, a Walmart!!!! We did a wonderful deviation into there, then it was straight back down Timpany. Back where the suburban businesses were clustered, we did an additional deviation into Timpany Plaza, which was, as usual, thoroughly boring.

At least it had a movie theater!
Back at that same intersection, we now had to do another deviation, continuing west on West Broadway. It became residential quickly, but there were many industrial buildings around as we turned onto Manca Drive. There was a stretch of forest, then we looped around at an apartment development called Olde English Village. And then...then it was time to go back up to that same intersection for the third time.

Some industrial stuff coming out of the Olde English Village deviation.
Now we went north on Timpany Boulevard, having traversed every stretch of road at that four-way intersection. We passed a few suburban businesses and a few houses, then we went around another Route 2 rotary, returning to the north side of the highway. We looped around a Hannaford onto Main Street, and there were a few more businesses before we turned onto Willow Street. Entering a residential neighborhood, it was just a few more turns before...City Hall! WE MADE IT!!!!!!!

GOODBYE FOREVER!!!!!!!!!
Oh wait, there's also a 1. Luckily, there's very little difference between the two routes - the 1 does the exact same loop except counterclockwise. Later in the day, Nathan, Sam, and I took a 1 from MWCC to downtown Gardner (possibly the most direct trip one can take on this circuitous route) for one reason and one reason only:

Dear Lord, what is that?
Yes, the 1 was operating with that...thing. We had seen the Gillig Phantom running around on it earlier in the day, and we knew we had to ride it! It was about what you would expect on the inside: high-floor, loud, and not a pleasant ride at all. Granted, it felt like heaven compared to the bus we had ridden before that, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. We'll talk about that a few reviews down the line...

Inside the beast.
Man, that bus is dirty!
MART Route: Gardner Route 1/2 (Counterclockwise/Clockwise)

Ridership: Well, there's no denying it gets people. Our full ride on the 2 had about ten people in total, which about fits with the route's 9.7 passengers per hour figure. Yearly, it gets around 47,548 people, which averages out to a little over 150 per day. I mean...it's not the worst thing in the world?

Pros: Gardner is a big(ish) city, and certainly one that deserves bus service. This one is all over the place, but at least it does serve a lot of the city. The bidirectional service is nice, since you theoretically never have to take the long way around the loop.

Cons: You read the post. It's just deviation after deviation after deviation, and while most of them get people (not all - I'm looking at you, Dunn Pond), it makes getting around town take forever. Also, the routes run every 65 minutes (six days a week), which is such a bad frequency! It seems like a few substantial deviations would have to be cut to get it down to clockface hourly service, so I'm not sure if it could be done with this current setup.

Nearby and Noteworthy: You know, I was inclined to just say Gardner is a boring town with nothing of note in it and move on, but I did find a nearby and noteworthy! How about a freakin' HAUNTED HOUSE?!??!??! This is right in South Gardner Center, and it's supposedly the 9th most haunted house in America!!!!!!!! Too bad it doesn't seem to be open right now - it's been undergoing renovations since 2015. Maybe the ghosts scared away the construction workers...

Final Verdict: 4/10
Look, this loop thing? Yeah, it's not working out so good. It's functional, but I don't think it's the best way to serve the town in the most direct and simple way possible. What if, for conversation's sake, we used the two buses in Gardner to run two linear routes instead?





Here are links to the full map and the full schedule. I created two north-south routes in Gardner, and in each direction, they have a timed transfer with the other route. All of the same deviations are covered (except for Dunn Pond), except now buses are able to run every 60 minutes instead of 65, which is much simpler. The hard part was making sure they would have enough to "do" in order to get back to the timed transfer at the same time. Thus, the 2 is loopier on its northern leg than I would want it to be, but the alternative was giving it 20 minutes of layover at Gardner Highrise - I figured it might as well serve the library while the 1 runs straight up towards MWCC.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
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