If only I had read my own blog post. If I had, I would’ve realized that there were Red Line shuttle buses between Alewife and Harvard. Boy, you should’ve heard the curses when my father and I came to the Alewife station entrance only to see a sign that said the entrance was closed. We had to walk to the busway to catch the dreaded shuttle bus to Harvard. I’ve had bad experiences on shuttle buses: once, it was absolutely packed on Mass Ave at rush hour. There was traffic and red lights, and it was simply awful. Luckily, the bus wasn’t quite as full leaving Alewife, though every seat pair was taken.

The bus starts out on that road that the 350 and 79 use to get to Alewife Brook Parkway, and then ends up on Broadway. It continues on Broadway, then turns onto Holland Street. There is minor traffic during this portion of the route, but not too bad. It then goes by the Clarendon Hill Busway. I’ve had an awful experience there: on a shuttle bus going towards Alewife, we laid over at the Clarendon Hill Busway for a really long time for no reason at all! The bus driver was arguing with someone for a while, and after a while, we finally left. Anyway, going towards Harvard, the bus stops at that stop in Davis Square that the 87 and 88 use. Alewife-bound, the bus directly serves the busway.

Looks pretty crowded from the back corner of the bus.

There were some standees as we left for Porter, going right through downtown Davis Square. This can be a pretty torturous part of the ride in terms of traffic. The bus turns onto Beech Street, following the 96, and then turns again onto Mass Ave. This is the absolute worst part of the ride, as anyone living nearby knows the sort of traffic one can find on Mass Ave. Stopping at Porter, we’re pretty darn full as we head for Harvard. After getting off at the busway, we enter the chaos known as Harvard Station while shuttle buses are running. The station already has huge crowds, and now the shuttle buses make them bigger. There was a huge mass of people leaving the station. So much, in fact, that the fare gates wouldn’t close with the crowds going through them! Nonetheless, I was honest and I tapped my CharlieCard anyway.

At the platform, there weren’t any trains coming. We waited for 15 minutes, which is a lot, even for a Sunday. Finally, a train came. You could feel tension in the crowd as the many people inside the train shoved themselves out. Then it was a mad dash for seats as everybody rushed in at once. Luckily, we got seats as the train left the crowded platform.

Say goodbye to the crowded deathtrap!

After this ride, I decided I’d evaluate shuttle buses as a whole:

Cons: Let’s start with these, as they’re numerous:

  1. Much slower than the train
  2. Really crowded
  3. Chaos at the train station

Pros: They’re free. That’s actually really nice if you’re going between just the stations served by the shuttle, because who doesn’t want a free ride? And at least they’re numerous. You won’t have to wait long for one.

But what do you think? Say your opinion on shuttle buses in the comments (as you might know, I attempted to do a poll about the very subject, but my polls seem to be cursed or something; they never work!). Also, if you have any “shuttle bus stories,” leave a comment as well. They might be compiled into another post!