Well, I’ve had it with this stupid bus. I’ve tried to take the 431 four times, and every time the driver has either decided not to do the route, or just not let me on for whatever reason. When my friend Sam and I tried to do the route recently, it was the former, and we decided enough is enough: we were going to walk the 431.
|Well…that would’ve been the 431…|
Sam was the driver on the 12:08 PM walking 431 trip. We went through the Commuter Rail busway but no one seemed to want to get on, so we headed onto Union Street, with buildings, businesses, and parking lots as the surroundings.
|Going down Union Street.|
We went under the Commuter Rail tracks, turning onto Central Square in the process. The sidewalk was rather nice and treelined here, with more businesses lining the street. We also went by a cool building reminiscent of the Flatiron in New York!
|Slightly less impressive than the Flatiron, but still quite nice.|
Alongside the Flatiron-esque building, we found a mannequin outside of a store that seemed to want to get on the bus, but it couldn’t move to pay its fare so we had to leave it behind. Next, we turned onto Oxford Street, which had a lot of parking lots alongside it. There were still a few businesses, but they didn’t seem to be as interesting as the ones back on the main drag.
It felt much less urban when we reached the intersection with the wider Market Street. Here, there was a big shopping plaza with a bigger parking lot out front. We turned onto Market (deviating from the actual route slightly, I think), which became lined with more businesses. We then turned onto Tremont Street, which had a school on one side and the back of that shopping plaza on the other.
|This is starting to feel less urban.|
Next, we went by an apartment building on one side, and an office on the other. We then merged with Neptune Boulevard, which featured a tree-lined median. There were a few businesses, then we passed a housing project and merged onto Summer Street.
|Some retail on Neptune Boulevard.|
This street was lined with more typical housing, while the back of a school occupied one side. There were a few businesses at the intersection with Commercial Street, including a convenience store and an auto shop. We turned onto Commercial for a block, then turned again onto Neptune Boulevard.
|Some more businesses on Summer Street.|
At this point, we had arrived at the route’s terminus, Neptune Towers. Now, it wasn’t exactly the grandest terminus, for one particular main reason: THERE WASN’T A STOP. No bench, no sign, nothing. Just a bunch of parked cars. Great signage, MBTA! Wonderful!
|The bus laying over at Neptune Towers.|
Leaving Neptune Towers, we passed a playground that seemed to have some really cool sprinklers for kids. We went by a school from there, then merged onto Wheeler Street, going by an apartment and some offices. We reached that shopping mall again, where we turned onto Pleasant Street, and Tremont once more after that.
|Hey, it’s a The Ride vehicle! Does that not belong at Neptune Towers more than a fixed MBTA route that never runs?|
Tremont Street was familiar territory from before, but this time we made a slight route deviation to serve Dunkin’ Donuts. Hey, we had been walking for half an hour and we needed sustenance! We returned to Market Street after that deviation, which took us under the Commuter Rail tracks and back into the Lynn busway.
|A different 431 on a different day.|
Route: 431 (Neptune Towers – Central Square, Lynn via Summer Street)
Ridership: The 431 gets truly high ridership that blasts all other MBTA routes out of the water. Get this: 45 people per weekday, 41 per Saturday, and all of 7 riders every Sunday. Perfect!
Pros: You know, on a route like this, I might say “it exists” as sort of a joke pro. But the thing is, the 431 isn’t even consistent with that! I’ve tried to take it so many times and it’s decided not to run every single one!
Cons: Um, so, like, everything? Yeah, basically. It’s one thing to operate a completely useless bus loop that gets hardly any riders and only serves to make late 435’s even later, but it’s another thing to advertise a service that only sometimes exists. And the fact that there never seems to be any people that complain when a bus forgoes its 431 trip just means that no one’s using it in the first place. Neptune Towers doesn’t even have a stop, for heaven’s sake!
Nearby and Noteworthy: Get this: on our walk, we saw an ice cream truck. NOTEWORTHY ALERT!
Final Verdict: 1/10
GET. RID. OF. THE. 431. It’s that simple. There is no point in keeping this route around in order to run a full-sized bus to some apartment complex that’s only a few blocks away from other routes, anyway. You know what they should do? Just utilize The Ride! It doesn’t have to be a fixed service, per se, although they could even just run The Ride vehicles on the tiny loop to Central Square, following the current 431 schedule. No service would be lost and it would be a much better use of resources, plus the 435 could get a proper layover (which it desperately needs).
UPDATE: The MBTA has discontinued the route, but things aren’t much better – the route is still there, but now it’s just an extension of the 435. Nothing has changed. I’m sure all of the problems mentioned in this post still exist.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates