Okay, “GreenLink Connector”, huh? Makes it sound like some sort of frequent Greenfield shuttle. That would be great! A route connecting up major points in Greenfield that runs frequently all day! So, I’m just checking the schedule for the 20 now: let’s see, it connects up major points in Greenfield…it runs frequently…but it only operates…in the morning rush. Huh.
So the 20 is basically a more frequent version of the 21 (which loops around Greenfield) that only runs in the morning rush and goes in the opposite direction, with a million variants. My friend and I chose the 9:00 AM trip, since it seemed to do everything, although for some reason there’s no “GCC” label at the top of it on the schedule, despite the fact that it serves Greenfield Community College. Then again, the schedule doesn’t actually tell you what the GCC label means, so perhaps we missed some important deviation. Oh well, let’s get on with it.
We headed up to Main Street, proceeding through downtown Greenfield past businesses housed in 2-4 story buildings. But those buildings very quickly got shorter and devolved into suburban businesses with parking lots. By the time Main Street turned into Mohawk Trail and crossed the Green River, those buildings were interspersed with short woodsy sections.
We went around a giant rotary interchange with I-91, then outside of the Mohawk Mall (actually just a strip mall, don’t get excited), we turned onto Colrain Road. After a small office building and a BJ’s, there was a short stretch of woods and fields before a cute little roundabout that led us onto College Drive. In an island surrounded by farms, we looped around Greenfield Community College, then came back to the roundabout and went straight across.
We went through the woods a bit before rejoining civilization, turning onto Elm Street into a fairly dense residential neighborhood (but one that apparently only needs a sidewalk on one side of the road). A few apartment developments came up along here, plus a supermarket and a why-would-you-put-this-in-the-middle-of-a-residential-area jail. Things got sparser when the street turned into Leyden Road, but after two minutes of driving, we entered the huge Leyden Woods development.
Coming back down Leyden Road, we took a left onto Silver Street, running past more houses and Greenfield High School. Things got more commercial when we turned onto Federal Street, which was almost entirely lined with suburban businesses with small parking lots out front. We passed the Greenfield Middle School, and eventually it started to get denser as we reentered downtown Greenfield. Crossing Main Street, we returned to the JWO Transit Center.
FRTA Route: 20 (GreenLink Connector)
Ridership: This route was instituted after the FRTA redesigned everything, so my only ridership data comes from my ride, and that’s a big fat zero. I guess it was the 9:00 trip so it was a bit late in the rush…maybe earlier ones get more riders? Any riders at all?
Pros: Alright, I’ll rep for the 20’s frequency: it’s about every 30-40 minutes, which is insanely good for FRTA standards, and it starts at 4:35 AM!
Cons: Okay, obvious first one: it only runs in the morning rush. Um, why? When you commute in the morning, you’ve got plenty of options, but those evening commuters are stuck with the hourly 21! And within the limited time that this route runs, it somehow manages to cram in a ton of variants! There’s a total of five route patterns here, including a single express trip to GCC and another to the Corporate Center (labelled on the schedule as the “Corporate Center Shuttle”). And ultimately, I just can’t see why this route needs its own number. These can’t be branded as the 21, just running in the opposite direction? I’m also skeptical about the amount of service provided – if the 9:00 trip was empty, how busy do the other ones get? Could these resources be better used on other FRTA services?
Nearby and Noteworthy: Nothing much. The only real commercial area besides downtown Greenfield is Federal Street, and it’s not an interesting one.
Final Verdict: 2/10
Nope, I’m not convinced. Maybe the earlier trips get a ton of people, but even if they do, the route is still too darn complicated, and it provides a level of service that isn’t matched in the evening. At the very least, it could be branded as the 21 in the opposite direction, since it’s really confusing on the system map to have two routes doing what looks to be the exact same thing!
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates