A holiday season-only bus route in February? Well, it’s better than a summer-only route in January! Not only does the elusive 19 only run from Black Friday to the beginning of the new year, but it also travels to New Hampshire! I’m very excited to say their state motto later on!!!
|This is a rare sight, guys!|
We headed up Thorndike Street from the Kennedy Center before quickly turning onto Middlesex Street. This was a mix of industrial buildings and businesses (some closed permanently), but it soon got residential – the road became lined with dense houses and apartments. Once we arrived at the intersection of Middlesex and Pawtucket, there was a burst of industry before it turned over to suburban retail.
There was a long stretch where the road had a little bit of everything alongside it, continuing as we entered Chelmsford. Once we hit Vinal Square, though, it was definitively all businesses…not very interesting businesses, but businesses. We merged onto Tyngsborough Road after that, another mix of houses, retail, and industry, with the added bonus of random patches of forest.
|A few train tracks!|
The road eventually came up next to the Merrimack River, with a single train track being the only thing separating us from it. The scenery was still all over the place, even as we entered Tyngsborough and our street became Middlesex Road. We arrived at Tyngsborough Center soon, which consisted of a few businesses, a fire station, and the old town hall.
|This is about it for Tyngsborough Center.|
It was diverse scenery again after that. Keep in mind that I don’t mean nice diverse scenery – it was really ugly! The buildings were ebbing more and more towards suburban businesses, and eventually we reached a shopping plaza to deviate into. It was a very boring plaza…
We crossed Middlesex Road into the Pheasant Lane Mall. This was our last stop, but it was a much more substantial mall than the one we had deviated into before. Now, technically the bus never enters New Hampshire: a portion of the mall’s parking lot is in Massachusetts, and the bus only stays in that bit. But still, the mall itself is all in Nashua, NH, so…LIVE FREE OR DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
|Oh, it’s a 20 now? Alright, then…|
LRTA Route: 19 (SEASONAL: Pheasant Lane Mall via Middlesex Street)
Ridership: There are no online statistics for the 19’s ridership, but I think it’s pretty good. I mean, my ride got 12 people…on the day after Black Friday! Who the heck shops on that day? I’ll bet it was insane the day before.
Pros: The Pheasant Lane Mall is unquestionably the most popular mall in the area, so the connection provided by the 19 is crucial. The trip from the Kennedy Center to the mall is about 35 minutes, so it’s not competitive with driving from a timing perspective (driving takes about half the time), but having a transit connection is still important and the route is well-used. It even offers a connection with the Nashua Transit System!
Cons: Let’s face it, this thing needs to run all year. I’m sure it would get great ridership if it did! Also, even when it does run, the frequency is pretty bad – the bus runs every 80-90 minutes. It would be great if it could run every hour, and if it ran all year, it could interline with another route to achieve that frequency.
Nearby and Noteworthy: There really isn’t much along the way until you get to the Pheasant Lane Mall – that is the one and only draw to the 19, as far as I’m concerned.
Final Verdict: 6/10
This route is important, and I’m glad that it runs in the first place. That being said, it would be way better if it could operate during the rest of the year, too! Perhaps there’s a conflict with the State of New Hampshire regarding service areas that prevents the route from running outside the holiday season, although the thing never actually enters NH, so I don’t see the problem. Of course, I’m no expert in this topic, so take my complaints with a grain of salt. It would still be great if this was a full-year service, though.
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