There’s no denying that the 439 offers a great ride. The fact that you’re on a isthmus and surrounded by water makes for great views on both sides of the bus. There are some caveats, though – mainly the fact that the bus only runs five times a day, and that most of the time it leaves from Lynn, where there is no subway connections. This makes the 712/713 a great alternative – mainly, it runs more often than five times a day.
In fact, it actually runs quite often. So often that when my father and I were at Orient Heights on a Saturday, we winged it with the schedule, barely missed a bus, and still didn’t have to wait that long for another. That said, it’s still two separate routes. The 712 and 713 have fairly similar routes, splitting up in the middle to serve the north and east sides of Winthrop in the 712’s case, and the south and west sides of Winthrop for the 713. The routes are coordinated, though, meaning buses run fairly often along the shared portions of the route.
There’s a wrinkle to all of this – this route is not operated by the MBTA. The MBTA subsidizes it, but it’s actually run by Paul Revere transportation. This means different prices, different bus stops, and even entirely different buses. This post would be considered a service change if it weren’t for the fact that the numbering technically makes it part of the MBTA (although this post does have a comparable amount of photos to a service change). My father and I found this out the hard way. I knew that the bus wasn’t operated by the MBTA, but I didn’t know you can’t use CharlieCards on it. We had to purchase a CharlieTicket to be able to board. Luckily the fares are only $1.50.
|This 713 was about to become a 712 at Orient Heights.|
|The same bus, only it looped around and changed its number.|
The buses operated on the route are painted white and blue and are a little smaller than regular MBTA buses. Inside, they have seats that look comfortable, but actually aren’t. There is an electronic screen up front that flashes names of stops, but there are no automatic announcements. There were about 20 other people on the 712 as we left Orient Heights, heading down Saratoga Street. It was a mostly residential neighborhood, with a small plaza just before entering swampland and crossing over a bridge (which would’ve offered a decent view had it not been so foggy) into Winthrop.
|The inside of the bus. Those seats aren’t as comfy as they look.|
There were a few gas stations and convenience stores before it got residential again. At Harmon Street, the 713 would turn off, while we stayed on Main Street. There were some businesses at the intersection of Main Street and Revere Street, and they continued as the bus turned onto Revere for a stretch. There was a sharp turn onto Crest Avenue, and the bus went by the shore for a short time before heading back inland on Beach Road.
|The bus stops along the route are unique.|
The route splits at this point, with inbound buses going on Veterans Road and outbound buses on Shirley Street. We were on Shirley, which was mostly residential with the occasional convenience store dotted in. Once the 712 and 713 joined up again, there was a marina with a lot of boats. There were a few points along here with fantastic views, one of which I took a picture of:
|I really like the effect the ice has on the picture.|
Shirley Street became a pseudo-isthmus after that, with houses on one side (with water beyond that you can’t see from the bus) and a beach on the other, separated from the street by a wall. Soon after there were houses on both sides, and then the isthmus ended. The bus turned onto Tafts Ave, going through a residential area, which eventually turned to a field on one side and another would-be-fantastic-view had it not been so
foggy. On the day we went, it looked rather eerie, and I took a picture of it.
|Like I said, eerie.|
After that, the bus came to a small parking lot. This is the parking lot for the Deer Island sewage plant, and I was very surprised that 10 people came down to this point – why would you want to go to a sewage plant on a Saturday afternoon? The bus looped around the parking lot, the driver changed the destination board to read “713,” and we were off in the other direction. And no one got off.
As we were heading back down Shirley Street, I noticed a strange sort of machine on the coast. It didn’t look like it was part of Deer Island, although it was in the same general area. Does anyone know what it is? Leave a comment if you do:
|A fairly bad picture, I suppose.|
|I unfortunately don’t remember where along the route I took this, but it just looks really weird!|
Before the bus turned onto Washington Ave, it made a strange loop around a single block that didn’t seem to have a point. The street went over a bridge with a nice view of a small lake, then it turned residential. It turned into Pleasant Street, but the bus soon turned onto Pauline Street. It entered Winthrop Center, and frankly, I was disappointed. I was expecting some more of the lovely small businesses we had been seeing along the 712, but it turned out to be large stores with big parking lots. The area with the town’s municipal buildings was nicer, though. It was here that the bus turned onto Herman Street and the view once again became residential. The bus soon turned onto Main Street, going back into previously charted territory and heading for Orient Heights.
|The 713 at Orient Heights.|
Route: 712/713 (Point Shirley – Orient Heights Station via Winthrop Highlands or Winthrop Center)
UPDATE: Now the routes use MBTA buses! Yay!
UPDATE 2: And now the routes have CharlieCard support! Wow!