It’s time to go west! Leave the constraints of Fall River and escape to the idyllic countryside of Swansea! It’s home to such wonderful points of interest as, and this is a direct quote from Wikipedia, “Swansea Motor Inn (featuring water beds)”! Featuring water beds? Sounds like a great place to me! Let’s hop on the 14 and head out there!
“Are you Max?” the driver asked. “No, I’m Miles,” I responded. “Then you can’t take pictures of the buses,” the driver said. “Only Max can take pictures.” Welp, looked like I wouldn’t be getting a photo of the 14. Shoulda just said my name was Max, it’s close enough! The bus, with its picture having not been taken, headed up 4th Street, crossing I-195. As soon as we made it to the other side of the highway, we turned onto Pleasant Street and then hopped onto a ramp to get onto it.
We zoomed through the short tunnel underneath Fall River City Hall, then the highway headed onto the impressively high Braga Bridge over the Taunton River. Taking the first exit on the other side of the bridge in Somerset, we merged onto Wilbur Ave, a street offering a mix of houses, woods, and farmland. It curved north, passing the Clifton Rehab Center, and some suburban businesses dotted the road as we got closer to the river.
We used a roundabout to get onto Riverside Ave, but we were only on it for a few seconds before turning onto Slades Ferry Road (right across the street from an abandoned bridge). Among the sights to see were suburban businesses and what is apparently a park and ride – I imagine it has to be for this route, since there are no other buses here, but there’s no indication of its existence anywhere on the route schedule or the SRTA website. We used Brayton Ave to get onto Grand Army of the Republic Highway next.
G.A.R. Highway was a very very very wide road that was near-impossible to cross, so I suppose the route’s Stop & Shop deviation was inevitable. After that deviation, though, we went up Brayton Point Road, a pleasant residential street. Read Street, which we turned onto, was similar, but we soon headed down Lees River Ave to return to G.A.R. Highway. It was at least slightly narrower as we took it over the Lees River, entering Swansea.
The road had a brief stint in the woods before the retail came back, and when it did, we performed an outbound-only deviation to Target. Next, we turned onto Swansea Mall Drive and did another outbound-only deviation, this time to Swansea Crossing. Finally, we looped around into the parking lot for the dying Swansea Mall, making a stop in between the mall and Walmart. Contrary to what Google Maps says, the bus doesn’t actually deviate into the Walmart, which created a lot of confusion when it came to Sam finding me in order to pick me up.
SRTA Route: 14 (Swansea Mall)
Ridership: As you might expect from a suburban bus route, overall ridership on the 14 is low (187 people per day in May 2014) and cost per rider is high ($10.77 in the same month). However, this was one of the routes of the day where I saw the highest number of people on board at once: 11 people leaving the terminal. This is probably because, as a suburban route, the 14 is bound to get less local ridership and more people coming from Fall River.
Pros: This is the one connection to Somerset and Swansea, and the route generally serves the biggest locations in each town. It’s only every hour, but because the route is longer than others, it makes sense from an efficiency standpoint to run it less frequently. Also, it makes up for the low frequency with a large span of service, with buses running until 9 PM on weekdays.
Cons: I don’t know if commuting into Fall River is a common thing, but because the route doesn’t start until 9 AM, it’s impossible to commute with the 14. The route is also pretty crazy, and it felt maddening when I was on board. Now that I look at the map, though, the deviations make sense – these are just spread-out places, and it’s hard to serve everything well with just one route. The outbound-only ones are all close enough to the end that it’s basically treated as a loop.
Nearby and Noteworthy: If you get off at Swansea Crossing, it’s just a 15-minute walk to the SWANSEA MOTOR INN! WATER BEDS, BABY!!!!! No, there really isn’t much to see along here. If you like dying or dead malls, though, it might be worth checking out the Swansea Mall, since it’s definitely on its way down.
Final Verdict: 6/10
Y’know, it’s a suburban route, and it does its best. There’s a lot to serve in these towns, and if you can only afford to run one route, you’re gonna end up with something a little crazy. It still gets people, and it’s nice that it runs pretty late into the night.
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