Hey, the LRTA is a thing! Yeah, I’ve made the least progress with LRTA, so it’s time to change that. Here’s the suburban 12 route from Wilmington to Lowell!
|Good to be on this system again!|
We headed out from the Wilmington Commuter Rail station onto Main Street, going through what I presume to be is downtown Wilmington. If so, all it consisted of was suburban businesses with parking lots and strange industrial buildings with parking lots. The road eventually opened up for two shopping plazas, one on each side…with parking lots.
|One of the plazas.|
It got residential soon after that, though we still got some random retail buildings mixed in there. We also passed Silver Lake, offering a great view, but then it was more of the same until a brief section of woods. It went back to being ugly suburban businesses after the forest, where we entered the town of Tewksbury.
Hey, here’s a nice part where we go over the Shawsheen River! Okay, back to gross businesses again. Oh, and the Tewksbury Country Club with its golf course that somehow managed to squeeze between them. We turned onto Livingston Street at the Country Club, running past some athletic facilities and apartment developments.
|A patch of nothingness between the fields and the apartments.|
We suddenly turned onto a rather shoddy road, taking us up to the Tewksbury State Hospital. After looping around the campus, we headed down to East Street, going by some houses and a cemetery. This led us to Tewksbury Center, or rather, a hodgepodge of municipal buildings loosely clustered around a common. It wasn’t much.
|Well, the common is nice, I will say.|
What came after we merged back with Main Street? More suburban businesses? Sigh…well, okay. There was at least a break for some pylons and a few houses mixed in, but eventually Main Street started to get quite wide. This led us into…a Walmart deviation. Boy oh boy, it doesn’t get better than this.
|Not Walmart, but still ech.|
We passed more suburban businesses back on Main Street before going under I-495. After that, it was time for another deviation, this one into Stadium Plaza. We entered Lowell from there, and the street became Rogers Street. It still had the same ol’ ugly scenery, though…
|Hey, something different!|
Okay, eventually things started to change. The businesses were getting less prominent, replaced by dense urban houses. After passing a park, the transformation was complete and we were now in a residential area. Rogers Street curved around past another park, then we turned onto High Street, which was lined with more dense homes.
|The sun is in my eyes!|
We soon turned onto Andover Street, which took us over the Concord River. We were in downtown Lowell on the other side, although at this point it was just a lot of boring buildings. Once we merged onto Green Street and it became Middlesex Street, we were now in the thick of things, with…boring buildings, but taller. Well, admittedly, the route doesn’t really go into true downtown Lowell. Finally, we turned onto Thorndike Street, taking us down to the Kennedy Center.
|I don’t have anything at the Kennedy Center, so here’s another one at Wilmington. “Happy holidays”!|
LRTA Route: 12 (Tewksbury via Route 38/Wilmington Train Station)
Ridership: The 12 got fairly average ridership in 2015, with 274 riders per weekday and 152 per Saturday. The weekday total was slightly below the LRTA average, the Saturday total was slightly above it. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with how many people rode my bus on a Saturday morning: there were 10 going into Lowell. Sure, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a good amount for one of the first trips of the day!
Pros: Offering a mostly direct route through Tewksbury with hourly headways six days per week, the 12 serves as an important suburban connector. It links up residences, malls, and the Tewksbury State Hospital to Lowell and Wilmington Stations, so there are a lot of places people can take this.
Cons: As much as I harped on the scenery, there isn’t much wrong with the 12. A slight nitpick is that the departure times shift forward by ten minutes in the late afternoon on weekdays, which is a little annoying.
Nearby and Noteworthy: You read the post. I didn’t like what I saw along this one…
Final Verdict: 8/10
This is a great route that serves all of the major ridership draws of Tewksbury. It’s used by shoppers, people going to the hospital, and maybe even commuters heading for Wilmington Station (although one earlier trip would be much more helpful for that). It’s just a shame the 134 can’t be extended just a little further from its terminus to create another MBTA-LRTA connection!
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