A little over 3 months after I left Amherst, we’re finally finishing my summer tenure with the PVTA! And what better way to end that summer with a summer-only UMass route? Yes, today we’ll be looking at none other than the 36, a route which kinda defies logical explanation…

A bus on the route, but I can’t remember for the life of me where this was.

This route starts in the weirdest place: the Atkins Farms grocery store. It doesn’t go into Hampshire College, which is right next to the grocery store – it just kinda starts at the grocery store. I guess it makes sense in a way, but it’s just such an odd place to start. It also deviates right into the parking lot, unlike the other routes around here, which just go past it on their way to Hampshire College.

Hanging out in the Atkins Farms parking lot.

We looped our way out of the parking lot and made our way through what is apparently the only double roundabout in Massachusetts! Wow, if that isn’t the coolest thing ever, I don’t know what is (note: slight sarcasm, but just a tinge of nerdy seriousness!). We headed up West Street, which was basically just woods and farmland for a while.

The long and winding road.

Eventually, houses started to line the street, and there was even some suburban retail with parking lots at the intersection with Pomeroy Lane. It went back to being residential after that, and it was like that for quite a while. We did pass quite a beautiful view of some rolling hills at one point, though.

I love this view!

The road was called South Pleasant Street now. We eventually went by Amherst College, and soon after that we were in Amherst Center. There were businesses everywhere for a little while, but as we got further away from the center, they gained parking lots in front of them.

Foliage in front of Amherst College.

Unlike other UMass routes, which go directly to, you know, UMass, the 36 has a different agenda in mind. Thus, instead of continuing down North Pleasant Street, we merged onto East Pleasant Street, which does in fact go east of the campus. It was mostly houses for a while, aside from a few fringe UMass buildings at a certain point.

There was some foliage, too!

Soon after those fringe buildings, we had to make a deviation onto Olympia Drive. We looped around a little complex up there consisting of the UMass admissions building, a housing development called Olympia Oaks, and a fraternity. After all that, we returned to East Pleasant Street for a bit before turning onto Eastman Lane outside of the UMass police and fire stations.

The police station.

We headed down a woodsy hill, then we passed some student housing. It got more and more abundant as we came into the campus proper, where we turned onto North Pleasant Street at a roundabout. We headed through the campus, but Sam and I got off at the southernmost stop, the Studio Arts Building, while the bus continued on to go back to Atkins Farm.

The bus at UMass.

PVTA Route: 36 (Olympia Drive/Atkins Farm)

Ridership: Darn it, another route without online ridership statistics? Alright, I guess I’m on my own, then. The 36 never seems to get that many people, but it gets enough – my trip had maybe 10-15 people who rode.

Pros: I guess it connects the residential areas around UMass to Atkins Farms? I mean, I honestly don’t know what this thing does, but it gets passengers, so who cares? It runs every 45 minutes, but only during school holidays – not a bad schedule, given the ridership.

Cons: I guess it’s mainly a question of “Why does this route exist?” It has to be said that the 36 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I mean, it’s sort of covering for the 34/35 and 38 routes, which don’t run over the summer, but only small sections of them? I dunno.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Atkins Farms is the main place this route serves, I guess. UPDATE: I’ve gotten a LOT of comments on this post and on Facebook about how amazing Atkins Farms is. I hear their cider donuts are incredible!

Final Verdict: 6/10
It’s good, I guess. I dunno, the 36 really just does its thing! It has its little loop around UMass and its little deviation to Olympia Drive and its little trip down to Atkins, and I guess that’s enough to give it a few riders. Sure, why not?

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