Tuesday, September 26, 2017

PVTA: 30 (North Amherst/Old Belchertown Road)

The 30 was a really nice convenience in the summer, mainly because of its clean schedule. Whereas the 31 runs every 35 minutes during the summer, the 30 is a nice every half hour. Of course, they both run every 15 minutes during the school year, when most people use them, but still...the clockface headways were great.

The bus coming into Puffton Village Apartments.
After some confusion about where the heck the Puffton Village stop was (it doesn't have a sign), Sam and I hopped aboard the 30 at its northern terminus, a student apartment complex. From there, we headed onto North Pleasant Street, going by more apartment complexes before reaching the roundabout just north of the UMass campus. We served the three main stops on campus, then we made the quick trip to Amherst Center.

That library really sticks out!
From Amherst Center, we made our way down Main Street, which, despite its name, didn't feel all that "main" - it quickly became residential. There were still a few businesses here and there, but the street was mostly lined with houses (although we did pass the former Amherst Amtrak station, which was awesome). They continued as we turned onto South East Street, but we hit a bunch of suburban retail at the intersection with College Street.

Some houses.
We continued down South East Street a bit in order to deviate to serve Colonial Village Apartments. It was a typical housing development deviation, what do you expect? We turned onto Belchertown Road at the other end of the development, which was lined with houses and a few farms. We passed a few more housing complexes too.

Coming out of Colonial Village.
We had to make a horrible deviation after that. This one was to serve the Valley Medical Center, and looping around the tiny tight parking lot was tough. I mean, this route sometimes uses 60-foot buses! Imagine how hard that would be! We came back to Belchertown Road, then we turned onto Old Belchertown Road, using it to loop around...and that's it. Kind of a weird place to end, but that's where the 30 stops!

Wait, don't leave us here!
PVTA Route: 30 (North Amherst/Old Belchertown Road)

Ridership: The 30 is one of UMass's key routes, and its ridership is insane. The route gets about 3,057 riders per day, but that's just taking the yearly amount and dividing it by 365 - on weekdays, this thing gets packed. Well, school weekdays anyway...in the summer, you only get about a full-seated load, which is still pretty good.

Pros: Like the 31, the 30 connects important apartment complexes to the north and south of UMass to the campus. During the school rush hours, the 30 gets packed, despite its 15-minute headways (on weekends when ridership is lower, it's every hour), but the PVTA does a good job of spreading the crowds - the 31 skips certain stops in order to get more people onto the shorter 30. The route also runs late into the night on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with service until 1:15 AM.

Cons: There should really be a sign at the Puffton Village Apartments stop. Also, that Valley Medical Center deviation is hard to make, pretty pointless (it's about a 3 minute walk from Belchertown Road), and a waste of time.

Nearby and Noteworthy: This is a primary route from UMass to Amherst Center, but other than that, it's mostly just boring apartment developments.

Final Verdict: 8/10
The 30 isn't quite as useful or straightforward as the 31, but it's still a really solid route. It's frequent, it has a great service span, and it gets lots of riders. I have to say, though, I would be very interested in seeing a 60-foot articulated bus trying to navigate that stupid Valley Medical deviation...

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

1 comment:

  1. Speaking as a driver: Navigating the Valley Medical deviation is easier in an articulated 60 footer than a straight 40 footer, but both are very doable.
    Also, I've had the same thought about Valley Medical, but there are two points you didn't consider. One, it's the only good bathroom for drivers on that route. While it is possible to go on-campus in a pinch, it makes many more people late and thus angry, due to the way the schedule works out. When we get to Valley Medical, it's right before Old Belchertown Road where we're going to have to wait out our rather long timecheck anyways. There are usually no people on my bus at that point, maybe one or two, and I'm making them a little later getting home, not to class, so they're not as peeved about it.
    Two, consider what Valley Medical is. The people that get off there are not usually what I'd call able-bodied, they're very often elderly and have a little trouble walking. While you might make the claim that there should be another special service to bring the less able-bodied to their appointments, the fact is there isn't a reliable one, and if you don't make your appointment on-time at Valley Medical, they reschedule it.
    I'm happy to make a "stupid" deviation if it makes life easier for even one human without the privilege that I have of being able to walk up that hill easily.

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