Coming down the hill from the Lee Premium Outlets, our surprisingly-not-the-worst-thing-ever truck minibus turned onto Housatonic Street and crossed I-90. There were some suburban businesses around the exit, but as we turned onto Main Street, we entered another lovely Berkshires downtown, Lee Center. But the experience was made much weirder when we, for some reason, deviated into a gas station next to the road! I get that that’s where Greyhound buses stop, but it’s literally right off the road, and Greyhounds only stop there once a day in each direction.
We turned onto Center Street after the gas station, which turned into Columbia Street as it snaked past some industrial buildings. It became Mill Street before we crossed the Housatonic River, entering Lenox and the residential village of Lenox Dale. We turned onto Crystal Street in the village, which ran along the river past more industrial buildings.
We turned onto Housatonic Street, which ran through the woods before getting houses pretty consistently. This road led us to our second wonderful downtown, Lenox Center. We headed onto Main Street from here, heading past leafy houses and inns. Any kind of charm was lost when we merged onto the wide Route 20, though, which had little pockets of suburban development.
We deviated into a Price Chopper, returned to the main road, deviated to a Stop & Shop, and returned to the main road again. We were in Pittsfield now, but there was actually an extended forest section before we entered the city’s urban area. Denser houses lined the road, eventually leading us into downtown Pittsfield and to the BRTA terminal.
BRTA Route: 2 (Pittsfield/Lee)
Ridership: My ridership data is from summer 2017, when this was the second-busiest route on the BRTA: around 275 average weekday passengers and 175 average Saturday passengers. As a long route connecting up multiple towns, I can definitely see why this one performs so well relative to the rest of the system. It averages out to around 11 people per ride, which is…exactly what mine got!
Pros: Similar to the 21, the 2’s path is a bit windy, but it’s impossible to serve all of the major population centers without being twisty. The timed connections to the 21 at Lee Premium Outlets are great; it would be cool if there was just one route from Pittsfield to Great Barrington, but at least the transfer is easy. With hourly headways on weekdays and Saturdays, this route provides a pretty good baseline for a rural service.
Cons: There’s not a ton that’s inherently wrong with the 2. It would be nice to see ridership by stop on this thing, especially when it comes to the feasibility of straightening the route from Lenox Dale to Lenox, but the twists don’t add that much time to the service.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Again, too much! You’ve got the fantastic downtowns of Lee and Lenox, plus the route goes straight past the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum!
Final Verdict: 8/10
A really solid backbone to the BRTA system. It would be awesome to see this one combined with the 21 to create a north-south spine along the whole southwestern part of the state, along with route modifications to perhaps straighten the thing out. Still, at least there’s a timed transfer at Lee Premium Outlets, and taken on its own, the 2 does its job pretty darn well.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates