It’s no secret that I, or indeed anyone, dislikes shuttle buses. When I’m trying to get somewhere for fun, planned weekend shuttles can be a minor annoyance. But when I’m trying to get to school during rush hour, it can be devastating. When my friend Leo and I reached the smaller entrance at Alewife, the doors were locked. Annoyed, we assumed that entrance was locked for one reason or another so we headed to the main entrance. This was open, and there were people in the mezzanine. Good.

As soon as we walked in, we heard one of the employees below mention shuttle buses. Oh, no. We didn’t even know why they were running buses (turns out a maintenance vehicle got stuck on the tracks), but we had to walk into the busway. Upon getting there, there was another surprise: they were running the buses from Cambridge Park Drive. And what’s more, there were a few CNG buses in the mix, something you never see at Alewife. Still, they can’t fit in the busway, so I guess that’s why they weren’t using it. But the other buses could’ve still boarded from it.

We were the first people to get onto the second bus (the one ahead was too crowded), and the driver asked where we were going. “Harvard,” I replied. “Hmm,” the driver replied, “Is that what it says on the outside? I don’t know where I’m going.” Pause. “But get on.” Well, this driver certainly knew what he was doing.

Typical shuttle bus crowd (photo credits to Leo and his iPad).

The whole line of buses then proceeded down Cambridge Park Drive (away from Harvard, mind), going by a bunch of offices. We went all the way down until the end, when we turned around and headed back the way we came. This involved some reversing, and it took about five minutes to get back to where we started.

So we finally made our way up Route 16, which was moving at a pace a snail would scoff at. After what seemed like forever, we turned onto Broadway, then Holland Street at Teele Square. Coming into Davis, the buses slowed to a crawl. A massive crowd was denied entrance onto our bus for some reason, and so we headed on towards Porter. We moved pretty quickly through downtown Davis Square, and Mass Ave was fast, too.

Massive crowd at Davis.

During the ride, I could see how the MBTA was throwing anything and everything it had at this service. There were regular diesels, CNGs, articulated buses, and even Silver Line dual modes! It was pretty cool seeing all these different buses in neighborhoods that usually just see the diesels. Anyway, we ended up not going into the Harvard Square bus tunnel, opting for the square instead. This meant a few more minutes of heavy traffic, then we finally got let off. Looking at the long line of buses behind us, I knew that this was certainly the most haphazard shuttle bus service I’ve ever taken. Yet surprisingly, we were only 15 minutes late for school!

A line of shuttle buses at Harvard.