Friday, December 4, 2015

50 (Cleary Square - Forest Hills Station via Roslindale Square)

Need to get from Cleary Square to Forest Hills? Sick of using the frequent, albeit crowded 32? Well, boy, do I have the bus for you, then - it's pretty much the exact opposite. Cue the 50! (Incidentally, it took me way too long after that 32 post to realize that it wasn't my last Key Bus Route. Sorry about that, there's still one more...)

The bus laying over on Hyde Park Ave.
When I tried to get on the bus at the stop above, the driver told me to wait across the street, along with a few other people already there. After a few minutes, the bus left its stop and banged a uey around an intersection, returning north on Hyde Park Ave. Everyone waiting boarded the bus, and we continued up the street, passing the businesses of Cleary Square.

Ignoring the weird stuff in the foreground, here's the bus making its u-turn.
We only spent a block on Hyde Park Ave, though, turning onto River Street almost right after we started. After going over the Commuter Rail tracks and Hyde Park Station, it instantly got residential. We turned onto Gordon Ave just after the crossing, then onto Summer Street. This was a residential one-way street, with the inbound route running a block away on Austin Street.

The bus again, this time on River Street.
We soon turned onto West Street, joining the inbound route again a block later. After struggling up a hill (with some interesting noises from the bus), the street became Poplar Street, still lined with houses. And after that hill, we were just speeding past everything.

At this point, the Stony Brook Reservation occupied the left side of the street. Something I didn't realize, though, was that apparently they put golf courses in reservations, as we passed one along Poplar Street. The street then curved to the northeast, once more lined with houses, aside from a small school at one point.

We turned onto Metropolitan Ave, which was up on a hill that sank down to the north. This meant that in between houses there was an absolutely amazing view of the Boston skyline. The problem was that it would show up for less than a second at a time, making it incredibly hard to get pictures. All of mine were terrible, and we started going down the hill disappointingly soon.

This is on Washington Street. It is also an awful picture.
Turning onto Washington Street, we joined a few other bus routes on their way to Forest Hills. After a few businesses at the intersection, the street became lined with dense houses and apartments. Of course, once we reached Roslindale, there was lots of retail once more. The businesses thinned out as we headed north from the village, now joined by a bunch of other Washington Street routes.

We passed a big field, but from there the surroundings were mostly houses and apartments again. There was a short industrial section, then after a bit of an open stretch, we pulled into the Forest Hills busway. The...roofless Forest Hills busway. Because they removed the roof. Um...why did they do that?

The bus at Forest Hills.
Route: 50 (Cleary Square - Forest Hills Station via Roslindale Square)

Ridership: The 50 is pretty low on the MBTA's ridership list, slotted at number 99 on weekdays. That equates to an average of 1,310 riders. On weekends, meanwhile, the 50 gets 412 riders every Saturday, while the 40/50 combo gets 309 riders on Sundays - the 9th worst Sunday route. My ride was quiet, with about 10 people.

Pros: Well, for one thing, this bus is quick. Since its independent portion is so local, it can cover the whole route in 20 minutes at most. Its schedule isn't great, but it makes sense - every 25 minutes during rush hour, and every hour all other times. On Sundays, the 50 combines with the 40, making a loop that covers both routes. I think this is a good way of keeping costs down, although the 6 minute layover at Cleary Square could be annoying for those going further around the loop.

Cons: This is a very hilly route, which does make for a fun ride. However, this means that when it snows heavily, the 50 doesn't run at all. How annoying must that be for people? I mean, okay, I get why it wouldn't run, of course, but still - cancelling the route entirely seems a bit unfair. They could throw extra trips onto the 40 that continue to Cleary Square, at least. That would soften the blow on snowy days.

Nearby and Noteworthy: You've got Cleary Square, and...that's about it. I mean, this bus goes through Roslindale, too, but in terms of its independent portion, that's all houses.

Final Verdict: 6/10
Look, this is the sort of route that just inherently gets a 6. It's uber-local, it doesn't get much ridership, and it doesn't run often. It wouldn't make sense to run the 50 more frequently, though, since again - not much ridership. I also don't like how they completely write off this route on snowy days. They could use the extra buses to buffer service on the 40, running all the way to Cleary Square to at least help some 50 riders.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates


  1. They took the roofs away for the all new upper busway they're putting in as part of an overall Forest Hills modernization/ADA upgrade that goes along with the replacement of the old Casey Overpass with surface roads (the Orange Line will get a new headhouse on the other side of New Washington St., which is the road that connects the two sides of Washington St. Bonus fun fact: The golf course you saw, Stony Brook Reservation and the hill you passed on the right were all once owned by Old Man Grew, um, Henry Grew, who lived up there on Grew Hill all alone, except for the Hermit of Grew Hill, whom he let live in a shack (the 50 passes the Henry Grew School in Hyde Park as it meanders around Austin and Summer streets).

    1. Wow, I didn't know they were modernizing Forest Hills as part of the overpass replacement! That's fantastic!
      And wow, that's a very interesting story...almost sounds like a local urban legend, except true.

  2. Gets even better: Coming from Hyde Park, the bus turns left onto Metropolitan Avenue. Had you gotten off there, turned right and walked a couple of blocks, you'd have seem this huge old house, way larger than anything around it. It's the Fox House, named for William Fox, as in 20th Century Fox. For some reason, he decided Roslindale was the perfect place for a summer retreat, so he had the house built there, a couple blocks away from what was then a stop on the main train line from New York (this was back when movie companies were still based in the New York area). He lost pretty much everything in the Depression, including his movie company and the house - which was so large, somebody cut a third of it off and moved that piece a few yards away. The train station closed long ago and now the Northeast Corridor divides Metropolitan Avenue in half - with only a pedestrian bridge for getting from one side to the other. And that concludes your lesson about my neighborhood's history :-).


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