How does the 39B differ from the 39A? In a lot of ways, actually! Like, to the point where I’m wondering how you can even justify naming them like that…

Buses everywhere!

From Buckley, we made our way onto Common Street, which ran alongside Campagnone Common before hitting up some retail sections. We reached a big factory at Union Street, and as we turned onto that, it generally got more industrial. Crossing a canal and the Merrimack River, we came next to the Lawrence Commuter Rail station, but unlike the 33, we didn’t deviate to serve it. For some reason.

The canal, because I always seem to use the Merrimack River picture instead.

We went over the Commuter Rail tracks and turned onto Market Street, going along a park. Next, we turned onto Loring Street, a residential road, and the houses continued as we merged around onto Salem Street, coming up…alongside…the park again. Pretty sure we could’ve taken a more direct route there, but okay…

Maybe the park is so nice that the MVRTA decided it had to be served twice!

We turned onto Phillips Street, which was allllllllllll houses until the intersection with Laurel Street, which had an apartment development next to it. And…oh no…we’re not moving…are we…great, we’re four minutes early. LALALALALALA WAITIN’ AT THE STOP!

The beautiful view for four minutes.

We went by Plaza 114, but we didn’t serve it, since it wasn’t the 10:00 or 11:00 outbound trip. You know, those trips go into the plaza, but nothing else does. No, instead we just turned onto Winthrop Ave, running past suburban businesses galore and under I-495. We barely entered North Andover with just enough time to pull into the North Andover Mall…one minute early.

A MVRTA bus outside of Buckley! Wow!

MVRTA Route: 39B (North Andover Mall/Phillips Street)

Ridership: The 39B gets pretty good ridership for MVRTA standards, although it’s not nearly as high as the 39A: we’ve got 381 passengers per weekday and 212 per Saturday, exactly the average ridership for that second figure.

Pros: The Phillips Street corridor is pretty dense, so it needs a bus service. Also, of course, we’ve got that MVRTA pulse schedule, so service is every hour seven days a week, plus every half hour during the weekday peak periods.

Cons: This route is way too short. It’s scheduled to take 20 minutes to get to the North Andover Mall, and that’s with a lot of padding. Heck, the buses on this route spend 22 minutes just sitting in Buckley! Over a third of the route length is just doing nothing, and that doesn’t include the times when it’s early and it gets to sit for a while anyway!

Nearby and Noteworthy: Most of the route’s independent section is residential, so the biggest attraction is probably the North Andover Mall. And I hate that mall.

Final Verdict: 5/10
Alright, so we’ve got a case where the 39A serves way too many things and the 39B serves way too few. You know what that means? Have the 39B serve some of the 39A stuff! For example, the 39B could absolutely run beyond the North Andover Mall to serve one of the deviations that the 39A has past there. The Plaza 114 deviation is a little tougher to deal with – if the 39A serves it in the same way it currently does, then it makes more sense for the 39B to go in instead, but if the A adopts my suggestion from that post, then that’s more efficient.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates