The reason I started these guides was because the MBTA stopped listing its schedule changes on its website. Well, I’m happy to say that they’re back to doing it! But…a lot of its descriptions are still really vague. And I really enjoy writing these. And it seems like you all enjoy reading them, too. So…let’s get to it! These changes will come into effect on March 17th.
7: Just a few tweaks here and there to the weekday PM schedule. The only super noteworthy changes are that the 2:33 inbound trip will now depart at 2:30, and there will be one fewer inbound PM peak trip.
36: Watch out, schoolgoers! The 6:20 AM trip to Townsend and Humboldt will now leave at 6:15, and the 6:50 trip to Avenue Louis Pasteur will depart at 6:30. Also, both of these trips will be scheduled to take quite a lot longer than they used to – the Louis Pasteur trip will be 28 minutes instead of 22, and the Townsend and Humboldt one will take a full half hour when it used to be 17 minutes. I guess they must’ve ran late a lot. Anyway, the overly detailed analysis on two school day-only trips is now over.
39: The 39 will generally be getting less frequent throughout the weekday. It will go from every 8 minutes to every 10 minutes in the early morning, every 14 to every 15 in the late morning, and every 8 to every 10 in the evening rush. There are some places where it will improve, though: for example, from every 11 to every 10 in the late afternoon, and every 12 to every 11 at night. So, in other words, the route won’t really change all that much.
43: Oh, they did it! The ever-unreliable 43 will become every half hour on weekdays, down from every 25 minutes now. It’ll also lose evening peak service – right now it’s every 20 minutes then, but soon the half-hour headway will stick it out all the way through the rush into the evening. Finally, that long-standing rule where the 43 leaves Park Street as soon as it arrives will disappear – buses will now wait for their departure time.
47: The 47 makes its long-awaited return back to Pearl Street! Luckily, it won’t be entirely like the pre-detour route, as it’ll omit the old Magazine Street jog. Thank goodness.
62: The 3:00 PM outbound trip will arrive at Bedford VA at 3:48 instead of 3:45. I’m sure this big change will have a profound impact on your life.
64: No, ew, why? What the heck is this? Instead of a weekday midday headway of 35 minutes, it’s now going to be every…39-40 minutes. Disgusting. Also, one trip in each peak will be dropped. And finally, did you like that clean hourly schedule at night? Too bad! Now it’ll be every 70 minutes. It seems like as usual, the 64 loses out.
70: The 70 is one of the most insanely-scheduled routes on the T. So it’s a good thing we have visionaries pushing the University Park arrival of the 10:30 inbound trip ahead by two minutes. Wait…that’s literally the only change? Argh. Better luck next time, 70.
77: The 77 will generally become more frequent throughout the weekday, with small improvements like running every 11 minutes instead of every 12. There’s one exception, though: night service will improve from every 13 minutes to every 10! It seems like they’re actually adding a bus to the route to accomplish this. Look, I’m a regular user of this route, and I’m all for service improvements, but I really don’t look at the 77’s ridership at night and say “Oh yeah, this definitely needs more service.” If anything, it should be a little less frequent (every 15 minutes max) to keep the thing reliable, since buses are often late at night! 10-minute service until 1 AM will be nice, but honestly, that extra bus could go toward one of the countless other routes that actually do provide inadequate service…
80: This one is an update, since the MBTA forgot to put this one on its list of service changes! Thanks to Jared on Facebook for letting me know. Anyway, because of the Broadway Bridge closure, the 80 will now continue up Medford Street and Main Street, take College Ave to Tufts University, and then return to the regular route. This isn’t as interesting as the 89’s detour (see below), and it’s definitely more of an inconvenience. The route’s schedule doesn’t actually change, so you’ll still be picking up the bus at the same times – it just might be in a different place if you’re used to boarding on parts of Broadway or College Ave.
89: The Broadway Bridge detours will be miserable for many people, but I actually really like the effect they have on the 89. Now, outbound buses will turn onto Cedar Street just before the bridge, then take Highland Ave to Davis Square. Clarendon Hill trips will continue there from Davis along the route of the 87/88. I’m all for extra service to Davis Square – this is a clever and innovative way of tackling the detour. The headways will still be weird, but not quite as terrible as they are now. The one major issue I can see is sending buses down the narrow Cedar Street, but buses on narrow streets isn’t a new idea for the MBTA.
104/109: These routes are notoriously crowded in the early morning, so the MBTA is taking steps to mitigate that. A 5:00 AM inbound trip will be added to both routes on weekday mornings, and the 109 will gain three additional trips in the early morning on Sundays. The route will be about every 15 minutes from 5:30 to 6:30 on Sundays now! Too bad the rest of the Sunday schedule is so infrequent…
111: There are some minor trip time changes on Sunday mornings. Service will start ten minutes earlier on both ends, which is nice!
114/116/117: The 116 and 117 will gain an early-morning round trip: a 4:45 116 outbound, then a 5:20 117 inbound. As for the 114, its trip times are changing throughout the weekday. For most routes, I would try to explain the changes in detail, but the 114 times are so random, and this route is such a dead horse at this point, that I’m not even going to bother. If you’re one of the three people that actually uses the 114 for its intended purpose, check out the changes yourself.
120: Huh…it’s kinda hard to rationalize these changes. If I were to describe them in one word, I would say they’re…inconsistent. Whereas the route currently has consistent 25-minute service middays, it will change to 20-25 minute headways with no pattern. Rush hour ends up in a similar boat, with 20-30 minute headways in the morning and 25-30 minute headways in the evening. Overall service ultimately isn’t gained or lost (the route will have the same number of weekday trips), but this just doesn’t sit well with me. Why sacrifice consistency for…well, I don’t even know what the advantage here is?
134: You thought the last one was bad? Oh, honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The 134’s current weekday service runs every half hour on the combined portion to West Medford, with hourly service to North Woburn. Pretty nice, right? Yeah, well, just have a look at the new schedule. Long story short, this thing gets crazy. And it loses service, too. This schedule makes absolutely no sense. Check out the 1:18 Playstead Road trip from Wellington – I’ll bet that thing’ll be empty, considering that it leaves just fifteen minutes after a North Woburn trip! Same deal with the 2:17. And the running times are all over the place, too. Sorry, 134 riders, but your life is about to get a lot more miserable.
238: Service during the evening rush will decrease from every half hour to every forty minutes, plus midday service will be every 65 minutes instead of every hour. Not good.
240: Many outbound morning peak trips will disappear, but more importantly, the evening rush loses service in both directions. Granted, the losses with this route mostly affect sections with service every ten minutes, where because of the frequency, buses tend not to be as crowded. But it’ll now be every 15-20 minutes, which might be too steep of a drop. I’ve been on this route in the evening rush, and it definitely has the potential to get packed!
325/326: The South Shore isn’t the only place that loses peak service – these rush hour express routes get major cuts. The 325 will lose one trip in the morning and one in the afternoon, while the 326 gets absolutely severed in the morning: it goes from twelve inbound trips…to seven. I know the route doesn’t get a ton of ridership on a trip-by-trip basis, but if you cut half its service, you can bet this express route will have standees. Strangely, the 326’s evening rush gets off mostly scot-free, losing just one trip.
351: All of the running times for this express route are lengthened to allow for extra travel time. Also, the 7:05 outbound will leave at 7:00, and the 5:20 inbound will leave at 5:25.
424: The route will be scheduled to take longer to get to its destination. Hopefully this will help its horrible lateness problem!
436: The one trip a day from Broadway at Conomo Ave will now leave from Broadway at Euclid Ave. I looked it up on the map – it’s one block away.
439: Yay, the 439 is no longer scheduled to leave Bass Point before it arrives! I would’ve been curious to see how that worked, though.
450/456: Great, another route whose changes I can only describe as “random”. Service on the 450 will just get a lot less consistent throughout the day, creating short service gaps in some cases and really long ones in others (how d’ya like the gap in inbound service between 1:16 and 3:02?). Also, this will make the 456 even more useless, ruining the 40-minute coordination between it and the 450. Oh, incidentally, the 456 will get a few running time changes.
455/459: Consistency? See ya! Coordination? Bye-bye! Lost service? Hi, come on in! Yes, the 455 and 459 will be less frequent, but with no consistent headway with this upcoming schedule change. It’ll be about every hour and a half on the 455, down from every 70 minutes, while the 459 will be every 100-120 minutes. And you know what that means: the semblance of coordination that the routes used to have is all but gone! Yes, there will in fact now be a 459 that arrives at Salem three minutes after a 455, then a nearly two-hour gap on the whole corridor. Look, I know these routes have abysmal on-time performance, but there has to be a better solution than this! At least the 455 gains a new early-morning trip from Lynn to Wonderland on Sundays.
501: Some of the 501’s times are shifting, but it’s not losing that much service – about one or two trips per peak. Also, all inbound evening rush trips will now operate via the shorter Cambridge Street routing. This change is a long time coming, and it should help reliability on the way out. I don’t even know why some trips went the long way to begin with!
502/504: Both routes lose a minimal amount of peak service, but nothing to go crazy over. The 504’s midday service changes from every 30 minutes to every 35 minutes, though! Another clockface route has been killed.
505: Based on the trend of these changes, you would probably guess that the 505 is losing a bit of peak service. And you’re right! The evening rush loses one peak-direction trip, and running times throughout are lengthened by ten minutes or more because let’s face it, the Pike is a mess at rush hour.
Summary: Sadly, these changes seem to mostly represent further steps down a dark path the T is taking. We seem to be heading toward a world with completely random headways, no coordination between routes, and overall less service. I don’t want to continue down this path, and I hope that Better Bus changes (particularly in Phase 2) will lead to serious improvements to a bus system that is clearly declining in quality. I understand that most of these changes are to offset truly horrible on-time performance (check out any bus route profile and you’ll see how bad the situation is), but the service is getting so much worse as a result! It’s clear that the bus system needs more investment so we can have buses with clear, clockface schedules…that also run on time.
There is one positive, though: the MBTA continues to invest in better early-morning service on multiple routes. Hopefully we can one day have a system that truly runs 24/7, so it wouldn’t have to run such intensive early morning service because there’s nothing from 1 AM to 5 AM. Either way, it’s nice to see the early morning getting some much-needed love. Oh, also, the 77 is getting better night service. For some reason. Seriously, I really don’t understand why they’re doing that. Each 77 after 9 PM gets, like, 20-25 people max with perfectly frequent headways. And there are so many other routes that could use better service! Okay, okay, I’m done…