Oh boy, there’s nothing better to take me out of a hiatus than the T releasing its quarterly service changes! I’ve actually begun my internship with them for the summer, so I can’t promise that post frequency will be as high as it was during that really brief, amazing time when I had nothing going on and was able to post once a day. Those were the days, huh…? Well, anyway, there are a lot of stop moves happening this rating that I can’t be bothered to talk about (“Route 21 & 26 stop Gallivan Blvd @ Pleasant Hill Ave (outbound) is relocated across Pleasant Hill Ave” – yeah, that would be a super dry post), but you can check them out (along with the other schedule changes, which I will be talking about) here. Also they’ve changed the PDF URL format this time around, meaning I get to struggle to figure it out while comparing schedules! Anyway, these changes will come into effect June 21st, along with vaguely-described increases in transit service. So, with the preamble out of the way, let’s goooooooo!
9: The schedule is being changed on weekdays before noon, but it’s not easy to pinpoint what these changes actually mean for riders. Honestly it just seems like they’ve rejiggered the times, probably for on-time performance reasons, and it doesn’t have massive effects on frequency, especially when the route’s morning rush schedule is already so insane.
16: Whoaaaaaa, the 16 is getting added weekend service! It’s great to have a good change so early on! While the Saturday and Sunday schedules are currently about every 25 minutes, the route will gain a bus on both days to bring things up to a roughly 20-minute (or better) headway, and a sometimes-clockface one at that! Sunday late afternoons and evenings change from every 30 and 35 minutes to every 25 and 30 minutes respectively.
28: An inbound trip at 4:45 AM on Saturdays will now leave at 4:40.
32: Aw, this is a nice little change! Two early-morning inbound trips on weekdays that previously started at Cleary Square will now begin all the way at Wolcott Square.
35: The morning trips that don’t run to the Dedham Mall have been rescheduled to provide a more even frequency in the outbound direction, versus now where inbound frequencies are more consistent. I’m not sure what prompted this change – I’m not aware of the 35 having a ton of reverse commuters. It’s still fairly even going inbound, but the previous schedule is super clean and that simply won’t be the case anymore. The service will overall be more even when you factor in both directions, though, so that’s good.
39: The major change here is a rerouting: rather than inbound buses taking Belvidere Street around the Prudential Center, they will now directly travel up Ring Road to Copley Square. This seems like a good change to me – the new route is faster and more direct. Despite this, some inbound service on weekdays and Saturdays will get slightly less frequent (every 10 minutes or less versus every 9 during the evening rush, and every 11 minutes or less versus every 10 on Saturday afternoons – the MBTA advertises neither of these changes, incidentally), while evening service on all days will see changes, some good and some bad, but never more than by a few minutes.
43: Oh, 43…what are we going to do with you? The route’s weekend service, which already gets awful ridership as it is, has been cut even further, from every 30 minutes to every 35-40. I really have soured on this one since my initial review, when I gave it an…8/10??? Ugh! Honestly if you cut weekend service on this thing entirely, you could put those resources to much better use – it seems like we’re heading in that direction with this new round of cuts.
47: OH NO, A NEW VARIANT??? Okay, yes, four new short-turn trips between Central Square and Longwood makes sense given this route’s notorious morning rush crowding, and it looks like inbound service throughout that period will now be every 7-8 minutes instead of every 10-15. I mean, as annoying as a new variant is (and it looks really silly on the schedule because it only has one timepoint), it’s great to see more service where this route really needs it!
60: Two weekday trips are being merged into one, essentially: instead of 9:19 and 9:38 AM departures from Kenmore, there will just be a 9:25.
67: Despite the fact that the route’s layover point is moving to Forest Street at Heard Road, the map doesn’t seem to have been updated with that info. Because of the changed terminus, arrival and departure times are a bit different now.
70: Some trips are added to the weekday schedule – good to see the route get a little less messy, but it is still very very messy.
71: Oh boy, it’s Harvard bus tunnel construction season! The 71 will once again be terminating at University Road and beginning at Story Street just outside of the bus tunnel, leading to a myriad of frequency changes. Rush hour buses will come slightly less often (by a minute), Saturday afternoon service will increase from every 15 minutes to every 12, and Sunday service will decrease from every 17 minutes to every 20.
72: Get ready to hear this a lot: inbound service in Harvard Square will go via Brattle Street because of the tunnel construction, and the route’s departure times will change, especially in the inbound direction. Coordination with the 75 is going to be better, too!
74/75: Inbound service is going via Brattle Street, leading to some running time and departure time changes. Weekdays see the most change, including heading in a more clockface direction throughout the day, which is awesome! Also: a constant service issue with the 74/75 has been requiring the use of the older New Flyer buses because of the low bridge leading into Belmont Center. Well, that will no longer be a problem – buses are now going to loop around and terminate just south of the Commuter Rail station! While this does sacrifice direct access to the center, I think the operational flexibility afforded by this change will be great, especially since the MBTA is getting close to retiring those old buses anyway. Plus pedestrian connections to the center are super easy from that spot anyway.
77: Once again, inbound service is running via Brattle Street, which causes minor frequency reductions across the board. Also – and this is truly sad news – because of the tunnel closure, the 77A won’t be running! Nooooooooo!!!
78: Say it with me: inbound service will run on Brattle Street. Unfortunately on a route this infrequent, the slightly longer headways make a tangible difference in the number of weekday trips operated. Weekends are pretty much the same, although note departure and running time changes.
80: Because the 80 is no longer detouring due to Broadway bridge construction (although the map hasn’t been updated alas), it can increase its frequencies due to the shorter trip time! Across the board, the route is going to be running 5-10 minutes more often than it does now.
85: The MBTA tells us there are changes, and yet…there are no changes. The three people still riding the 85 nowadays can rest easy.
86: Okay, this is…weird. The first thing I’m noticing is that “Harvard Station Busway” in the outbound direction has been replaced by “Harvard Square”. But…wouldn’t the 86 be unaffected by the Harvard bus tunnel detours, since it’s going in the direction that all the other buses using the tunnel will go? Huh. More concretely, the route’s Washington Street detour is over, so there are some time changes across the board and a few more trips on weekend mornings.
87: Bad news first: the evening rush is losing a trip or two. But for a tiny bit of good news, the wonky midday departure times are getting just a bit more uniform! Keep an eye out for time changes across the weekday.
88: Kind of the opposite of the 87. The morning rush is losing a trip, while midday service is getting less uniform!
89: Despite returning to its regular non-detour routing (with the map unfortunately not reflecting this), the schedule doesn’t change that much. Departure times all stay exactly the same, with only a few running time changes, plus the change of Clarendon Hill trips no longer running via Davis Square thanks to the return to regular route. One major change, though: the last trip of the night will no longer run to Clarendon Hill, instead ending at Davis.
91: The MBTA didn’t announce schedule changes for this one, but I would consider running time shifts due to the bus returning to its regular non-detour route to be noteworthy!
96: And again, no time changes announced despite there totally being shifts in running time! Sure, departure times stay the same, but the schedule is ostensibly still changing! Also, for the last time, inbound service is operating via Brattle Street in Harvard Square – that’s mostly what’s causing those running time changes.
99: Despite many time shifts on weekdays, the route had crazy departure times before and it still has crazy departure times now. Saturday afternoons and evenings see major service cuts, though, going from every 35-40 minutes to every 50-60+. And while the Sunday changes are mostly just running time shifts without departure time changes, the 2:30 PM trip from Woodland Road will now leave at 2:31…just to be annoyingly unique, I guess!
105: Sigh…what are we gonna do about this serpentine mess? It’s going from every 75 minutes middays to every 80. This route needs major changes, honestly.
108: Saturday departure times are getting shifted around, but the route’s times were crazy enough that these changes don’t help or hinder its clockfacedness. Also, contrary to what the alert says, there are changes on Sundays too – many running time and a few departure time shifts.
112: UMMMMM…OF ALL THE ROUTES TO GET A MAJOR SERVICE BOOST, IT’S THIS ONE??? Uh, okay…well, everyone’s favorite serpentine mess (sorry, 105 – see above) will now run every 30-40 minutes on weekdays rather than every 40-50, adding a ton of new trips! I mean, I’m a little baffled, but any improvement is welcome, I suppose!
117: On a route whose early morning ridership is huge, it’s nice to see a new 4:30 AM trip from Revere Center to Haymarket on Saturdays! Also, the T didn’t mention this, but note that the 5:02 AM inbound trip on Sundays will now leave at 5:01. You’re welcome.
120: Ugh…you know the consistent half-hour headway on Saturday mornings? And the relatively consistent hourly headway on Sundays? Well, thanks to a bunch of departure and running time shifts on weekends, that’s all gone.
134: Oof, the consistency of service on weekdays was already shaky, but departure time shifts make things so much worse. On the old schedule, some inbound PM departure departure times were: 1:05, 1:33, 2:06, 2:33, 3:10, 3:38, 4:20. Not perfect, but it’s fairly consistent. Now we have: 12:54, 1:31, 1:50, 2:28, 2:42, 3:35, 3:39, 4:39. AHGGHHAHGAHHGH!
325/326/351/352/501: Wait…so when they say these express routes are getting suspended (presumably temporarily, but they don’t actually say that), does that mean that every other express route will not be suspended? Will the 503 be running but not the 501, for example? I mean, that doesn’t make a ton of sense, does it? If I, the person who spends hours poring through schedules looking for and documenting the most minute time changes, can’t figure this out, then this is officially confusing.
439: Alright, guess our final route is this five-times-a-day thing. Many of the route’s departure times are changing, and it’s worth noting that the inbound midday trip will now run through to Wonderland. Also the once-a-day “Range Road” variant is kaput, whatever the heck that was.
I guess we can’t expect to have a ton of amazing schedule changes given the pandemic, but overall this was a pretty rough round. Although we saw fantastic frequency increases on the 16, 47, and 112 (still can’t get over that) and some efficient reroutes on the 39, 74, 75, most of these updates are what we always seem to see: lowered frequencies and less consistent timetables. I understand that these changes are required due to limited resources and traffic (although how much traffic really is there right now?), but it doesn’t make them any less painful.