This is the last Silver Line route to be reviewed on this blog! Huzzah! That said, the SL4 follows almost the exact same route as the SL5, and was only created to provide a connection from Dudley to the SL1 and SL2. But actually, it ended up being more useful than it might seem.
|A swaggering man exits the bus at Dudley.|
From Dudley, we headed up Washington Street through a pretty bad neighborhood, and soon we went into the bus lane. There were some nice parks around Melnea Cass Boulevard, then a mixture of small businesses, lovely brownstones, and tenements. There was a huge cathedral at Dartmouth Street, then the uglier buildings started to dwindle.
|These views down articulated buses never get old.|
We crossed over I-90, and that’s where the bus lane ended. Of course there was plenty of traffic to contend with, and the bus slowed to a crawl. The buildings got taller and taller as we went through Tufts Medical Area and Chinatown Stations. But whereas the SL5 continues down Washington Street into the theater district, we turned onto the much less crowded Essex Street. Chinatown is only served by South Station-bound buses because of the loop it makes over here.
|Bus inception never gets old either.|
There was barely any traffic on Essex Street, and near South Station the bus lane came back! And there was a legitimate shelter! It was amazing. There was a crowd waiting to get back on the bus, and then it looped around to head back to Dudley.
|The bus outside of South Station.|
Route: SL4 (Dudley Station – South Station at Essex Street via Washington St)
Ridership: Sitting in the back of an articulated bus (because come on, who wants to sit in the front), I couldn’t get an accurate ridership number. The best I can say is “a lot.”
Pros: Like the SL5, the section along Washington Street is pretty quick. And the shelters are pretty swanky, offering shelter (obviously) and countdown clocks for the buses. That said, the clocks aren’t particularly useful when buses are late:
|Good to know…|
But the SL4 has an advantage over its counterpart in that the trip to South Station is so much quicker than the one to Downtown Crossing! If you have to get to the Red Line from along the route, the SL4 is a better decision. Chinatown and Downtown Crossing aren’t too far apart, but the traffic along there can be really bad. The SL4 just has to breeze down Essex Street to get to South Station.
Cons: There’s still the traffic at that one area between I-90 and Chinatown, but it’s not as bad as what the SL5 has to deal with.
Nearby and Noteworthy: See the SL5 post.
Final Verdict: 8/10
Just for comparison, the SL5 got a 5. I really hated the traffic when I rode that route. The traffic can be kinda bad here, so Essex Street turned out to really speed up the journey. This bus certainly isn’t an adequate replacement for the Orange Line by any means, but it’s much better than the other route on Washington Street.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
I’m going to Washington D.C. for a few days on a school trip, so don’t expect any posts in the next week or so. I plan to do a Service Change on the bus that takes us there (an 11 hour drive, hooray!), but unfortunately won’t be riding the Metro. See you in a week!
You were lucky enough to catch a ride on 1 of 3 New Flyer built 1200 series buses wrapped for Silver Line Washington Street.
When the XDE60s replaced the CNG-Powered AN460LFs, those 3 buses don’t run as much as they used to pre-XDE60 era.
This bus is always late to south station. Someone has to do something about this very tardy bus! It’s unbearable! The SL4 was supposed to be according to be at union park at 11:53 AM. Right now it’s 12:05 and i am still waiting on the SL4 to south station which makes me a very late for work!
Yeah, honestly, my thoughts on the SL4 have changed a lot since this review. You make a very good point, it’s SUPER unreliable.
Yeah the SL4 used to run a little better in the past but (except during the pandemic times) has become pretty more unreliable.
Honestly i dont get why people dont like this route that much, i took it a few days ago to get from nubian to south station and i didnt see any of the problems everyones complaining about. Traffic wasnt any worse than the rest of downtown boston and the bus lanes helped alot, it was only a min late leaving nubian and that was because another bus was blocking the exit, only complaint is that there arnt any luggage racks on the bus, i think a good 60-70% of the people on the bus had large suitcases and were headed for SL1 to the airport and since theres nowhere to put them they just kinda took up space in the isles which could be a pain if the bus is busy