Believe it or not, the SRTA route with the most legit terminus is also one of the least frequent routes on the system. Yes, the 7 ends at a proper turn around, probably a remnant from an old streetcar! Yet it’s one of the few in-town routes that runs every hour on weekdays. Well, let’s see why that might be.
I’m not quite sure why, but the 7 has a jog up past I-195 on its outbound route. We went over the highway on 4th Street, then we used Troy Street to get to Bedford Street, passing some vacant downtown buildings and a post office. Soon after passing Main Street (where downtown is actually pretty nice), we turned onto Milliken Boulevard, crossing south over the highway again. What was the point of this jog when the inbound route doesn’t even do it? I have no idea. It was even worse when the outbound route would have a second deviation to Battleship Cove, but it’s not running right now because of construction.
We now turned onto Columbia Street, which was lined with dense houses and apartments, as well as some businesses. Columbia Street ended and we used the parking lot-filled Broadway to get to William Street. It became Bay Street as it curved south, and as the name suggested, we were rather close to Mount Hope Bay.
Bay Street was a bit of an odd one; on the bay side, it kinda switched between big industrial buildings and suburban houses. The inland side was just residential, with the occasional apartment development. We basically just sped past all this with no one on the bus until we hit the Bay Street Turn Around, just before the Rhode Island border. That was that!
SRTA Route: 7 (Bay Street)
Ridership: I’m impressed by how many people this route seems to get. It got 6,941 passengers in May 2014, which ends up being 257 per day, or around 10 per one-way trip. That’s pretty darn good for SRTA, and the total number is very close to and sometimes even higher than other, more frequent routes.
Pros: My trip only got one person, so I thought this route doesn’t get a lot of people, but it turns out it does! My guess is that some of those big apartment developments along Bay Street generate riders. Anyway, that’s what I like about it: it runs a fairly direct route down an important street in southwest Fall River.
Cons: Okay, we’ve established that the 7 gets similar ridership numbers to other SRTA routes…except the 7 is every hour on both weekdays and Saturdays when most others are at least every half hour on weekdays. It’s even a similar length to the other routes! If anything, raising the frequency to the level of other routes would generate even more ridership! Either run each route every hour or each route every half hour, because clearly, they’re getting similar amounts of people. Oh, also, that outbound-only deviation is stupid. Just had to put that somewhere.
Nearby and Noteworthy: I think the SRTA intends to have this route start serving Battleship Cove again once construction there ends. I’m not a fan of putting an even longer outbound-only deviation on this thing, but Battleship Cove does seem like a cool place.
Final Verdict: 5/10
I don’t get it. The hourly 7 gets higher ridership than at least one other route that gets half hourly weekday service. It’s a short route, so it would only take one more bus to improve service, and the way SRTA interlines, it would also improve service somewhere else. I dunno, I’m not a fan of this route double standard of sorts, especially since each trip on the 7 is going to get twice the passengers of other routes because it runs at half the frequency.
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