How do I introduce the MBTA bus route that will be this blog’s last? I still find it hard to believe that the thing I dedicated my life to for over four and a half years is…over. The last T bus route. This is it. We’ve been through a lot, everyone, but I think the 171 featured the biggest challenge of all: surviving Dudley Station at 4 AM. Ouch!
|1796…the last bus.|
How we actually got to Dudley is another story that you’ll see at some point in the future, but the point is that our bus left the labyrinthian, sketchy bus station at 4:20 AM. We started out going up Washington Street, but we turned onto Melnea Cass Boulevard outside of a ghostly Silver Line shelter that wouldn’t see service for an hour. After a brief one-block run on Melnea Cass, we turned onto Harrison Ave.
|Guys, it’s Mass Ave! Can’t you tell?|
There were parking lots for a bit, then we got South End apartments on one side and Boston Medical Center buildings on the other side. Once we turned onto East Concord Street, we went right into the hospital campus, which continued as we turned onto Albany Street. Next, it was Mass Ave, which took us right into the industrial Newmarket area.
|Buses at Southampton Garage getting ready to go.|
We merged onto Theodore Glynn Way, then onto Southampton Street, which took us past the Southampton MBTA bus garage. This route is very well-used by early morning MBTA employees, and though it was a Saturday morning so there were far less people on board, someone still got off here. After going under the Fairmount Line, we passed the South Bay Center mall (thank God we didn’t have to deviate to it) and crossed over I-93.
|No trains here for a while!|
Next, we headed into the Andrew busway, picking a few people up, then we went north up Dorchester Ave. It was just pure industrial wasteland, although it did include the MBTA’s Cabot Yard. Usually this is a big stop, but on this Saturday morning, there were no T employees heading there.
|Duh, this is totally Cabot Yard. Can’t you tell?|
We turned onto A Street, cutting through a neighborhood of Southie, but then we entered the Seaport and there were industrial buildings and parking lots everywhere. Next, we came into Fort Point, and as we went under Summer Street (which had a very fancy colored bridge), there were brick buildings on all sides. When A Street ended, we turned onto Congress Street.
|Look, it’s the beautiful Boston skyline! Can’t you tell?|
After that, we turned onto “West Service Road Extension,” where it got industrial again. Next, it was South Boston Bypass, which let us sail onto I-90! We zoomed through the Ted Williams Tunnel under Boston Harbor, then came out at Logan Airport.
|A tunnel in the airport.|
We made our way around into Terminal A, and I’m pleased to report that the 171 uses the Silver Line airport announcements! They sounded awesome over the high-quality Xcelsior speakers. Next, we served Terminal B Stop 1, which got no passengers, but a whole three people got off at Stop 2. I wonder where they were going…
We made our way to Terminal C next, then it was off to E. Now, the route is supposed to continue on to Airport Station – every schedule around says that it does. However, it would seem that no drivers ever actually do it, and this one was no exception. We were kicked off at Terminal E, so we walked into the empty international terminal. The final trip was complete.
Route: 171 (Dudley Station – Logan Airport via Andrew Station)
Ridership: The 171 is technically the “least-used route on the MBTA,” but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get good ridership. According to the 2014 Blue Book, the route got 36 riders per weekday, 39 per Saturday, and 48 per Sunday. With only two trips per day, that’s pretty good! Honestly, though, I think it fluctuates day by day – my ride got about 15 people, but other trips can reportedly be packed.
Pros: This route serves a very specific function, and it does it well. The reason for the 171’s existence is to A) bring early-morning airport employees to their jobs, and B) get early-morning MBTA employees to their shifts. There’s even the occasional person using this to get to the airport for a flight! It doesn’t need to run any times other than when it does (3:50 AM and 4:20 AM).
Cons: The only thing wrong with this route is the claim that it goes to Airport Station when it really doesn’t. Who’s even going to Airport Station at 4 in the morning? Just take it off the schedule – the bus never actually serves it.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Well, gosh, if you’re in Roxbury or Dorchester and you gotta get to the airport really early in the morning…I guess this is the bus for you?
Final Verdict: 9/10
Hooray, we finish the T bus system on a positive note! Yeah, there’s really nothing bad to say about the 171 other than its strange, false insistence that it serves Airport Station. I do think the popularity of this route for early-morning employees (as well as its counterpart, the 5:10 117 from Haymarket to the airport) is a clear indication that the Bostonians would benefit from a 24-hour bus system, but that’s beside the point. The 171 is an eccentric route…but it’s also a great one.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Well, that’s it. The last route. It took almost 4 years and 8 months, but we did it. I’ve had an absolute blast riding the entire T, and ending it with this crazy route was awesome. I want to thank everyone for reading, whether you were there from the start or whether you just found this blog today. You’re the reason I’ve kept doing this and worked so hard to ride all these routes and write all these reviews. Of course, just because I finished the T doesn’t mean the blog is over, though. After all, I still have all of my RTA’s to get through! Don’t worry – you’ll still be hearing from me for a long while after this.
well the last route until the new sl3 starts service in 2018
Very good point!
You stll need the 195 Shattuck Shelter-Park St. route.
It's not a posted route, so it doesn't necessarily count. If I get the chance to ride it, I will certainly review it!
I stand corrected, the website does actually have a page for the 195. I guess that's one more route to do…!
You will need to do that 15 trip to Hyamarket and the 193 and the 194 aka 89/93.
Now THOSE trips I don't need to do. They don't have pages on the website, and they're not actually signed as the 193, 194, etc.
Do them anyways! the 191 is just a variation of the 15, but i think it qualifies as a review because of how different they are, the 191 has FIFTY ONE more stops than the regular 15! Its like the 34/34E, they share the route for some of it but then they split off and the 19x variation becomes a completly different route
You'll be doing updates on some routes, I'm sure. You aren't going anywhere.
Congrats Miles! I have read all your post they are great-mass bay buses an railways
Will you be reviewing Downtown Crossing, Park Street and South Station, three of the busiest stations in the system? Would like to see your review of them.
Of course! How could I forget those? Stay tuned!
Did you ride the 275 and 276?
^ Unknown, 275 and 276 are defunct now that there's no way to drive to Long Island. And 277 is/was the same route as the 195, right?
I wish they would let more busses stop at the airport, i think making the 171 all day running every 15 or 20 min would be amazing. And a route from forest hills directly to either the airport or south station would be even better, as it is now if you wanna get to the airport from any of the subburbs served by the many busses going to forest hills you have to take the bus to forest hills, then the orange line to downtown crossing, transfer to the red line, and then the silver line. A direct forest hills to south station or airport (not airport station, the actual airport) bus would speed up and simplify trips for so many people trying to get to both the airport AND south station from anywhere outside downtown boston, and would also help take pressure off of the often packed SL1.
You havnt done the 191, 192, 193, and 194! Idk if these count as their own routes as their single trip early morning variations of the 15, 39, 57, and 89 ment for fare collectors (but open to the general public) but they have their own listings on the wikipedia page that lists all the mbta bus routes, and some of them have ALOT more stops and completly different routings than that routes normal route (the 15’s early morning route has 50 MORE STOPS than its normal route!), so make of it what you will.