Wednesday, February 5, 2014

214 (Quincy Center Station - Germantown via Sea Street and O'Brien Towers) and 216 (Quincy Center Station - Houghs Neck via Sea Street)

Why do I always make these beach trips when it's cloudy out? It happened again with the 214/216 (which run as one route on weekends), but at least it wasn't insanely foggy this time. The 214 and 216 both serve a peninsula to the east of Quincy Center, with the 214 ending at Germantown (a gated community) and the 216 ending at Houghs Neck (the tip of the peninsula).

When the bus came, the destination board was labeled just as 216, and I had no idea I would be getting a two-in-one trip. There weren't too many people on the bus as it left Quincy Center, only about 10 people or so. Heading through the center, it was pretty urban as we went down Washington Street. It became less so, though, once we turned onto McGrath Highway. There was a "small stores with massive parking lots" area, turning onto the Southern Artery. Right after, there was another turn onto Sea Street, and we went by a cemetery with a stop simply announced as "Cemetery."

That is awfully small text for an MBTA destination board.
There were some small apartment buildings on the right side of the road and houses on the left following the cemetery. At the intersection of Palmer Street and Sea Street, we turned onto Palmer to follow the 214 route. It was a charming little residential neighborhood, with tiny houses lining the street. Soon, though, the houses cleared and the sea was right there (or the "Town River," as it's actually called). It was a decent view, but it was short and there wasn't much to see.

I took three pictures, anyway.
After the view, we went by a school and then entered "Germantown." Germantown is a development where all of the houses are exactly the same. We made a loop around here, via the old folk's home, O'Brien Towers, where someone actually got on the bus. I was one of very few at this point, but heading back the bus started to fill up more.

We went back the way we came, until the intersection of Palmer and Sea, where we took a right on Sea to do the 216 route. Although there was much more swampland along here, it was a similar neighborhood to the one along Palmer Street. Soon, though, the houses stopped on one side and there was a beautiful view across the sea (or "Quincy Bay," as it's actually called). It was only about a five second view, as the driver was going fast and it was a short stretch of road in general, but the view of the city was fantastic.

As usual, the picture doesn't capture it, and I wonder what those strange spots are.
Sea Street soon curved away from the sea (unfortunately), and it was back to the standard (but nice) type of residential area seen earlier. Soon, there was some activity with a baseball field, a church, a school, and a cute firehouse like the one in Marblehead. After that one intersection with all the activity, it got residential again. The street soon widened into a small parking lot, right by the "Quincy Yacht Club." As the bus did a big u-turn, I noticed the numerous boats within the club. But we were soon heading back to Quincy Center, back through previously charted territory.

Not the nicest neighborhood...
I'm not really sure why the destination board was changed... also, an old man got into the picture.
Routes: 214 (Quincy Center Station - Germantown via Sea Street and O'Brien Towers) and 216 (Quincy Center Station - Houghs Neck via Sea Street)

Ridership: This bus is practically all residential, so its passengers are practically all locals. There weren't too many people going to Houghs Neck, but there were more on the way back.

Pros: Having two buses to cover this peninsula is great, as they end up serving most of it. And for Quincy Center buses, the schedules are phenomenal: every 20 minutes rush hour, every half hour during the day, and every 20 minutes on Saturdays for both (meaning coordinated service on the portion from Quincy Center to where the two routes split). The night and Sunday schedules aren't as great, running every 60 minutes and 40 minutes, respectively. But hey, it's a Quincy Center bus.

Cons: As I said before, the night and Sunday schedules aren't that good, but that can be forgiven as this is a suburban Quincy Center bus. However, I'm not really sure how the combined route thing works. I mean, I think it's a good way to reduce the number of buses on the route while still serving the same area, but there's not a word about this in the online schedule. I looked at both the 214 and 216 schedules on the MBTA website, and it just says they go along their respective routes on Saturdays. What's the deal with the 214/216, then?

Nearby and Noteworthy: Aside from Quincy Center, this is an almost entirely residential route. Nothing much to see, except for the fantastic views, particularly on the 216.

Final Verdict: 8/10
Obviously, for me at least, the views were the best part of this bus. I thought the 712/713 was a better ride overall, but that's just because it was interesting riding a non-MBTA bus in Boston. I would say the views are equally good for the two, although keep in mind that there are more on the 712/713. For practical usage, the 214/216 is also very good, providing frequent service to east Quincy (I'm not sure what the peninsula is actually called). The only real problem is the weird combined scheduling. I think it's a good idea that works, but I'm not sure about the fact that it's not mentioned at all in the schedule.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Like all storms, the Mattapan High Speed Line is running shuttle buses and many buses have snow routes in effect. More information here.


  1. Ahh, this was the first route I ever did, this is a real bottom of the barrel route for the Quincy garage, and since I was a low-rater I got stuck with it. But boy are those views beautiful, I never once minded it for my work. You should've gotten off at Hough's and walked about 5 minutes to Nut Island, it's part of the Deer Island Sewage treatment complex and has some cool maps and great views of Boston and the Great Blue Hill. Also it should be noted that the 214/216 is one of only two Quincy garage routes that waits for the last train of the night (though it waits for the last BRAINTREE train, whereas the last southbound Red Line train that waits with all the other last trains downtown is an Ashmont train), the other being the last 210 of the night that goes from Fields Corner to Braintree via North Quincy, Quincy Center and Quincy Adams.

    1. Based on Google Street View, now I wish I had gotten off at Houghs Neck. The tip of Nut Island looks absolutely beautiful! Maybe on a sunny day I can take a visit.

  2. the big turn around in Hough Neck by the yacht club was originally the turnout for the EMSR streetcars
    the 214 runs Monday -Friday from 630am -6:10p running either via McGrath Highway from 9:10a-2:50p during am and pm rush it runs via Coddington St.
    The 216 runs M-F 6:30a-6;20p cunning down Coddington St to Sea St

    The rest of the time during the week and weekends the 214 is combined with the 216 running as the 216 Houghs Neck via Germantown, on Saturdays there is a deviation as every other trip runs 216 Houghs Neck via McGrath highway to service the Stop and Shop on McGrath highway, other wise the 216 runs as Houghs Neck via Germantown traveling Coddington St and Sea Palmer Bicknell sts
    once in Houghs Neck where you can go left along the water that is where the EMSR Trolleys ran and would come out next to the fire station and take a left back on Sea St and traveling down to the turn around


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