Saturday, March 17, 2018

BAT: BSU Service (Bridgewater State University)

Since BAT labels its free student-run Bridgewater State University shuttle service as one route, I guess I'll have to review its lines in one post! Although to show how much BAT itself cares about the service, that link on the BAT website has outdated information - this is where everything is up-to-date.

Oh no, don't tell me this is a system of truck minibuses!
Route 28 (Express to/from BAT Centre): We begin with the university's only numbered service, a route that runs from Brockton down to BSU. Sam and I boarded the bus at its own special T berth in the BAT Centre, and we departed down Montello Street. This closely paralleled the Commuter Rail tracks, and it had some hardcore industry on that side, while the other side had dense houses. Interestingly, no other BAT routes travel down this road.

Okay, it's no surprise why that's the case.
The street basically darted between residential and industrial sections, all the way until Keith Park. Here, we turned onto Plain Street along the south side of the park, then we went onto Main Street, joining up with the 2. This street was a smorgasbord of stuff, including suburban businesses, houses, some huge apartment buildings, and the BAT bus yard.

Coming onto Main Street.
Suburban businesses eventually became the primary buildings along Main Street, and we passed some of the most decrepit and abandoned-looking shopping malls I've ever seen. The route actually used to begin at one of these shopping centers, and Brockton-bound riders would be forced to transfer to the 2! Good thing that's not the case anymore.

A gas station.
We continued beyond the terminus of the 2, entering West Bridgewater. There was a clear drop in development over the border - although suburban businesses still showed up in droves, there were no cross streets, and it was just forest beyond North Main Street. We eventually passed a cemetery and a solar farm, after which it briefly got residential with some proper woodsy sections.

The sun rises over the trees!
West Bridgewater Center wasn't much: there were just some chain businesses with parking lots surrounding a pretty inaccessible "common." We made our way onto South Main Street here, crossing the Town River and going by mostly houses with a few industrial buildings in there. Eventually, we entered Bridgewater proper.

Liquors! Now open!
After lots of houses, we arrived at Bridgewater Center, which was much better than its western counterpart! There was a pedestrian-friendly common here, and it was surrounded by some nice businesses in charming buildings. We turned onto Central Square, which went around the common.

Heading along the common!
We turned onto School Street next, and that took us straight into the BSU campus. We made a stop at the Art Center, then we looped around a green to the second and final stop, Harrington Hall. Oh...or we could skip Harrington Hall entirely, instead turning onto Summer Street, then Plymouth Street, then Burrill Avenue, making our final stop at Hart Hall. Okay...I guess that works too?

Interesting place to end.
BSU Route: Route 28 (Express to/from BAT Centre)
Ridership: My ride got about 10 people, which isn't huge, but people are definitely using the service.
Pros: This is a fast connection to Brockton - it only takes about 20 minutes. And sure, the Commuter Rail takes 12, but this bus is free! It only runs five times a day, but I honestly don't think it needs to come much more often than that.
Cons: The NextBus data for this route is really out of date. It has the bus only going as far as that shopping center just over the Brockton line, and it doesn't mention anything about going to Hart Hall. Was that supposed to happen?
Nearby and Noteworthy: Brockton, of course - not that anyone who isn't at BSU has much reason to take this there.
Driver's Radio Preference: Top 40
Final Verdict: 7/10
This is a quick free shuttle for anyone coming from or going to Brockton. My guess is that the departure times reflect commuting patterns for students, and the bus would probably run empty if it ran more often. Its only big issue is the outdated NextBus data.

Hey, a proper bus!
Green Line (East/West Connection): Next, we move onto the Green Line, which begins at Bridgewater Station and the parking garage for commuters next to it. We looped around onto Great Hill Drive from there, running through a bit of forest until a few buildings with parking lots. We turned onto Burrill Ave next, passing a few dorms - we did a deviation into one of them. However, we didn't deviate into Miles Hall, so honestly, I should just give this route a 1/10!

Some of the dorms.
We turned onto Hooper Street, passing Burnell Hall and a commuter lot. It was a left on the residential Plymouth Street after that, then we crossed the Commuter Rail track (with a painfully long railroad stop). From there, we turned onto Summer Street, and completed the route by looping around Boyden Hall, with stops at Harrington Hall and the Art Center.

Time for another trip back.
BSU Route: Green Line (East/West Connection)
Ridership: My ride only got two people, but I saw another bus on the line that had a full-seated load. It was prime commute time, though, so I wonder what it's like middays, for example.
Pros: Well, at least at rush hour, people do seem to use this thing! It runs about every 10-15 minutes from 7:15 AM to 7:00 PM, supposedly.
Cons: The problem is that it could be replaced by the "Red Line" at any point - we'll get to that later. No, the other thing about the Green Line is that it's kinda useless unless you're really lazy. Thanks to BSU's network of pedestrian paths, the furthest possible distance on the route is only about a 15 minute walk. That means that if you just miss a bus, it's faster to hoof it!
Nearby and Noteworthy: Miles Hall, of course - duh!!
Driver's Radio Preference: Soft Rock
Final Verdict: 4/10
I was wary of giving this route any higher than that. Sure, it gets used by commuters during rush hour, but it's kinda useless for campus transportation unless you're lazy. Everyone I've talked to who went or goes to BSU have said that they rarely, if ever, use the shuttle. Not to mention it's unreliable, since it could be changed to a different routing at a moment's notice. Gosh, maybe a 4 is too high...

The Blue Line bus...from above. This is on the other end of the route, but it's better than the photo I got at the Art Center.
Blue Line (Commuter Express): That's a misleading name. Indeed, this "express" is the more annoyingly deviation-filled route on campus. We began it by heading out from the Art Center, turning onto Summer Street, and merging onto Plymouth Street. We were lucky because we were going eastbound, but the westbound route does a really long deviation just to serve a parking lot within a three minute walk of the main road. That deviation also comes really close to a mall, but for some reason it has no stop for it!

Looking down Spring Street.
Plymouth Street became mostly residential past there, but once we arrived at a big football stadium, we turned onto an access road. This was a deviation to the Tinsley Center, where we looped around and headed straight back up. It was back onto Plymouth Street, where we went by a baseball field and some more houses. Next, we turned onto Great Hill Drive, which took a longgggggg, windy trip through the woods until we arrived at the Commuter Rail station.

In the parking lot.
BSU Route: Blue Line (Commuter Express)
Ridership: My trip got two people, and I wasn't able to see what other ones got, unfortunately.
Pros: Hey, the Athletic and Tinsley Centers are actually kinda far, so I can see how this route would be useful for those. However...
Cons: The longest possible distance on this route is an 18 minute walk. The route runs "every 15-20 minutes." So again, if you've just missed a bus, it's faster just to walk (it didn't help that our driver was really slow...)! Also, why does this route bother to serve the Commuter Rail station? The Green Line already covers it, and the Blue Line could be much more frequent to its unique sections if it didn't take that long trip there. Finally, that mall on the westbound Spring Street Lot deviation is legitimately far from everything else, and all that would need to be done is adding an additional stop on that deviation!
Nearby and Noteworthy: People mostly use this to get to the Athletic and Tinsley Centers, I imagine.
Driver's Radio Preference: Country
Final Verdict: 3/10
This route has a lot of improvements that could be made to make it more frequent and useful. Eliminate the Commuter Rail section, run the shorter route more frequently, and add a stop on the Spring Street deviation for that mall. Also, this route can be replaced by the Red Line at any time, which is annoying! Speaking of which...

Red Line: Okay, so I didn't actually get to ride the Red Line, but I can at least talk about it. The route is a combination of the Green and Blue Lines, doing every single one of their deviations. It comes every 15-20 minutes, and it runs..."as needed." Okay, that's vague. Based on a few inspections of the system at various times of day, the Red Line will just randomly replace Green and Blue Line service! Why can't it just have set times, say, middays, while the lines run separately during rush hours? This whole "as needed" business just makes the system more complicated and unpredictable than it has to be.

Gold Line: There are a lot of routes for such a small campus, huh? The Gold Line is the only route that runs nights, from 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM. It's also the only route that runs on weekends, but only during those nighttime hours. It's similar to the Red Line, but it uses two buses (thus running every 10-15 minutes), and it has a few on-demand locations that can be requested by calling a number. I appreciate that these deviations can be done spontaneously, since that's probably how most decisions are made by college students at 2 in the morning!

Overall, this all feels like a "courtesy" system more than anything. Most of the destinations these shuttles serve are within easy walking distance from each other, but these buses are here as a courtesy to those who are unable to easily get between them...or those who are lazy. I think it's overly complex considering how many destinations it serves, but it is nice that the buses are student-run. Still, this system isn't too useful, and it's WAY too complicated for its own good. I'm going to have to give it a 3/10.

5 comments:

  1. i like the new "driver's radio preference" thing,lol

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  2. You were probably on my bus as i was driving

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