Monday, April 30, 2018

WRTA: 24/24A (Union Station Hub - UMass Medical Center via Belmont Street)

Heyyyy, why does the WRTA website URL still reference the former 34? That's no good! That was a Sunday-only variant of the 24/24A, but luckily it's been eliminated, so we only have to deal with the 24 now.

...or, in this case, the 24A!
We began at the UMass Medical Center, a sprawling complex that feels like its own city. We came out of there on South Road, then we turned onto Innovation Drive, which ran up a hill to serve the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital. Next, we turned onto Hospital Drive, leading us back down onto Belmont Street.

The woodsy campus of the hospital.
There was a bunch of forest on the north side of Belmont Street, but the south side was residential. The only thing that differentiates the 24A from the 24 is that it makes one deviation in each direction to two different apartment complexes; we went by Seabury Heights, the one served in the outbound direction. There was a lovely pond right after with its own little beach.

The pond, flanked by Seabury Heights.
We turned onto the narrow Hooper Street to perform the 24A's inbound deviation. It led us past houses to the Green Hill Tower Apartments, where some sort of medical emergency delayed us a bit as we tried to loop around the parking lot. Eventually we just reversed our way out of there and headed back down to Belmont Street, running by the UMass Memorial Hospital.

You can see the emergency vehicles parked in front...
We went over I-290 and passed two churches and an apartment building. We then turned onto Major Taylor Boulevard, a wide road that had lots of office buildings along it. It led us down to Foster Street, which took us to our final stop at the Central Hub.

And here we are!
WRTA Route: 24/24A (Union Station Hub - UMass Medical Center via Belmont Street)

Ridership: The 24 gets great ridership, with 878 passengers per weekday and 327 per Saturday...I guess it wasn't running on Sundays when the ridership data was taken.

Pros: Although this may not be the fastest route to the UMass Medical Center (that honor goes to the 15), it's the most frequent one, running every half hour on weekdays (where every other trip is a 24A) and every hour on weekends (where most trips are 24As). It serves three major medical centers, and it runs by some dense residential areas on Belmont Street, too.

Cons: The 24A is the real elephant in the room here. First of all, what's the deal with its single-direction deviations? Who's going to use a deviation if it only does it in one direction??? If they really want to deviate, just go to Green Hill Tower Apartments, since that's much further from the main road than Seabury Heights, which is basically right there. Also on the topic of the 24A, the weird supplemental 24A trips on weekday afternoons don't seem to be helping anyone. They only end up bunching up with regular 24s, and even when they do leave at consistent headways, it doesn't work - service from the hub runs at alternating headways of 15 and 30 minutes when the supplemental trip is going, and alternative headways are awful.

Nearby and Noteworthy: It's really just a lot of hospitals. Chances are, if you need to visit a hospital in Worcester, you'll end up on the 24.

Final Verdict: 6/10
The normal 24 is a great route. It serves a lot, it runs frequently, and it's direct. The 24A, on the other hand, is indirect, badly-designed, and screws up the headways on the regular 24. So, uh, let's just meet in the middle, huh? 6/10.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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