I’m back! I’m sorry for not posting in about half a million years, but I’ve been quite busy. Also, I went to Bermuda over April vacation, and I rode a few new bus routes over there. I’ll leave it to you guys if you want to see posts about those (here’s one of them from last year if you want to know what to expect), so let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter what you think. Anyway, let’s get into the review.
A little while back, I did a review of the 68 from Harvard Square to Kendall Square, via Broadway. I commented on the fact that the route doesn’t have any points where it’s the only option, and it gets pretty awful ridership. Proclaiming that “I honestly feel like the MBTA could scrap this route, and it wouldn’t affect that many people,” I gave it a 2/10. After that review, a commenter named Ari pointed out that the faithful locals who use the 68 would be up in arms if the MBTA tried to eliminate the route. That’s certainly a valid point, but I still think the 68 is a bad route, and I don’t regret the low score. Basically what I’m getting at is that the 18 is like the Dorchester equivalent of the 68.
|Off-center, but it’s growing on me.|
The 18 is a mostly straight run up Dorchester Ave, running from Ashmont to Andrew. I got on at Ashmont, and we headed up – what else? – Dorchester Ave. We went through Peabody Square just north of Ashmont Station, then Dot Ave was lined with businesses. Some of them had apartments on top of them, and others were Vietnamese, since there’s a pretty big Vietnamese community down here.
|So much traffic! Those are the elevated Red Line tracks at Fields Corner up ahead.|
It got more residential after that, We went by a park, and then came into the convoluted mess that is the 18 at Fields Corner. So we turned into the Park Street busway, then onto Geneva Ave, then onto that Fields Corner busway that doesn’t have any stops on it, then onto the actual Fields Corner busway, then back onto Geneva Ave, then back onto the stopless Fields Corner busway, then back onto Dorchester Ave to continue with the route. It took over 5 minutes just to get through all this.
|This driver must’ve changed the destination board early, because the 18 doesn’t run on this street. This is at Andrew Station.|
After that, the businesses got denser, then we went through an industrial portion with lots of auto shops. On my particular trip, we stayed on Dorchester Ave the whole time from here on out, but normally buses take a strange and seemingly pointless detour. Had we been taken this detour, we would have turned onto Bay Street, then onto Auckland Street (now heading south, away from where we were heading), then onto Dewar Street, and then back onto Dot Ave, doubling back on ourselves. I think skipping it certainly sped up the ride a bit.
|That same bus heading back up Dorchester Ave.|
After crossing over Savin Hill Ave, the industrial area ended and it was back to dense businesses with apartments on top. We went by an apartment building, then crossed over Columbia Road, connecting with the 8 and 41. Continuing up Dot Ave, we passed through a purely residential area with dense apartments, then onto a bridge over I-93 and the Red Line and Commuter Rail tracks. Soon after that, we turned onto Southampton Street, then Ellery Street, and then into the Andrew Station busway.
|Look how downtown looms! It looks really close.|
Route: 18 (Ashmont Station – Andrew Station via Fields Corner Station)
Ridership: Being the local route that it is, the 18’s ridership isn’t very high. There were only about 10 people on my Saturday ride. On weekdays, it only gets an average of 619 riders, and on Saturdays, only 175 – the fifth worst Saturday bus route for ridership. Like the 68, most of the riders on this route only went for a few stops.
Pros: But unlike the 68, this route does serve a lot. Sure, it more or less parallels the Red Line and goes pretty close to its stops, but it actually has some sections where it’s the only option. Plus, although Broadway is a major street in Cambridge, it doesn’t come close to the importance of Dot Ave. I mean, this is basically the main throughway of Dorchester, and it makes perfect sense to run a bus down it.
Cons: For one thing, I think a lot of people don’t use this bus just because it comes so close to the Red Line. I mean, it directly serves Ashmont, Fields Corner, and Andrew, and comes within a few blocks of Shawmut and Savin Hill. In addition, parts of this route are just so convoluted! The 18 at Fields Corner is a mess, and it seems like it would be so much easier to just skip the Park Street busway and have it go directly into the Fields Corner busway. Also, does it really need to serve Auckland Street? I don’t know if the Savin Hill Apartments is an old-age home, but if not, I think its residents can walk a block to Dorchester Ave.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Lots of businesses along Dot Ave, but I don’t have anything specific.
Final Verdict: 3/10
I’ve been comparing the 18 to the 68 this whole review, and I do think the 18 is better. It’s longer, serves more, and even runs on Saturdays! The schedule, by the way, is not great, as you’d expect – every half hour during rush hour, and every hour during the day and on Saturdays. The last bus is at about 6 PM, which is also like the 68. But I do think the MBTA should keep the 18 around, although its route is really crazy. Seriously, it’s drawn as a straight line on the map! Just make the route a straight line!
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Governor Charlie Baker has appointed five new members to the MassDOT board after pressuring six of its seven previous members to resign. In non-MBTA news, Google Maps officially made the switch over to “The New Google Maps”, and it is the slowest, most frustrating thing ever. This could mean longer wait periods between blog posts, but hopefully nothing along the lines of the horrendously long amount of time I made you guys wait before this post comes out.