UMass Boston recently (okay, a little longer ago than “recently”) added a new shuttle route, the 4! It runs from the Campus Center to the parking lot of the former Boston Globe building, which UMass has now commandeered. How would I describe the route? A hot mess.

Three problems: 1. No indication anywhere that this is a 4. 2. It’s one of UMass’s worst buses. 3. “Welcome to Boston”? More like “Welcome to a warzone”! Look at the state of the campus!

So the bus pulled into the temporary busway next to the Campus Center in the middle of every construction project ever, and it didn’t have a destination sign. It also didn’t have a piece of paper in the window saying what route it was. How did the driver alert us to the fact that the bus was a 4? By shiftily holding up four fingers, of course! Great start, great start.

Okay, this is much better.

We made our way onto University Drive South, which was a pleasant street that wasn’t in an eternal construction zone (mostly). There was a nice view of Dorchester across Savin Hill Cove on one side, while UMass buildings occupied the other side. We left the campus soon and turned onto the ridiculously overbuilt William T. Morrissey Boulevard – nine lanes. This has to be the widest street in Boston!

Is it just me or are we a little off-course?

We went by Boston College High School, while on the other side was…the Boston Globe building. Okay, well, there it goes…yes, Morrissey Boulevard’s median meant that we couldn’t cross over to get to the building. We had to go all the way up to JFK/UMass Station, loop around (without actually going into the busway), and come back to the building. It was ridiculous!

Okay, these fences aren’t making this trip easy.

Of course, as we were entering the complex, we could see that there was a u-turn road just before the Globe building…not that it mattered, because there was a secondary median blocking the path to the building (Morrissey Boulevard: most overbuilt road ever). That wasn’t where the problems ended, though. Getting into the lot required traversing an obstacle course of fences and barriers that felt way too small for a bus to be going through!

Well, at least the other bus has a “4” in the window!

The lot was a mess, too. I get that it was hastily repurposed after the Globe moved offices, but man, they left it in bad condition! The whole thing feels like this decrepit old factory parking lot, and I guess that’s what it is, to some degree. At least UMass threw a few benches in for people to wait at.

Now why is our bus leaving first??

UMass Boston Shuttle Route: 4 (135 Morrissey Boulevard Lot – Campus Center)

Ridership: It seems to get light ridership, with one other person going in each direction. Maybe it gets busier at rush hour, but it’s definitely sad to see two empty buses running the 4 when every vehicle on the 1 is packed to the brims.

Pros: It connects the Boston Globe lot to UMass, and it seems to run frequently. Cool.

Cons: This route is so annoying to ride because of that stupid u-turn! You have to go so out of your way to get to this darn lot! Also, although it’s not as bad as the 3 running with a million buses on a 10 minute loop, the 4 has no semblance of a schedule. Why did my bus leave before the bus ahead of it? Now the frequency will be thrown out of whack from UMass!

Nearby and Noteworthy: A really awful parking lot. That’s it.

Final Verdict: 3/10
The 4 is so annoying to ride. Not only do you have to deal with that u-turn going towards the lot, but you also have no idea when your bus will come because the vehicles on the route seem to just play leapfrog with each other! Even the UMass website isn’t sure how often the 4 runs – it gives no frequency on there. Honestly, it seems like it would be faster to run this via Mount Vernon Street, because at least then it would feel like you’re going somewhere! I might even radically suggest combining the 3 and the 4 into a big parking lot loop, since neither route gets a ton of ridership in the first place. Hmmm…

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates