Ohhh, this one’s a real monstrosity. The trouble began when my 7 arrived at Lunenburg Crossing seven minutes late. That should’ve been okay, though – there were ten minutes of screw-up time between the scheduled arrival of the 7 and the scheduled departure of the 7A. And yet…a nondescript minibus was leaving the shopping center just as we came in. Did it leave a few minutes early or was it really late???
|While I was waiting, I got a picture of that strange red Walmart I was talking about.|
I hung around the mall for a while. I was afraid to go into any stores because clearly, this little minibus was an unpredictable rascal. The bus serves Lunenburg Crossing twice on its route, so I wouldn’t be able to find out how early or late it was until it came back, since I had no idea where it was on the loop. About 25 minutes later, there it was again, trundling back into the shopping center. I flagged it down, and the driver looked shocked. “Where are you going?” he asked. “I’m just gonna ride around if that’s okay,” I responded. “Sure,” he said. “Hop on!”
We headed out from the mall onto Mass Ave, but we very quickly turned onto White Street. This was basically just a side road, and it took us past some normal houses to Pearl Brook Apartments, a tiny residential development. This direction we were going also showed that we were early. How early, you ask? Twenty-one minutes early.
|WELL I HOPE NO ONE WANTED TO GET ON HERE!|
We made our way back to Mass Ave, and just outside Lunenburg Crossing, we turned onto Electric Ave. It was just a bunch of far-apart houses until we reached some suburban businesses at the intersection with Whalom Road. Here, we performed a deviation to CVS (lovely), turned onto Whalom Road, and deviated to Emerald Place, a luxury housing development with its own private beach. A real transit-oriented development right there!
And that whole excursion was also a big deviation. So…back up to Mass Ave we go. We returned to that intersection at Lunenburg Crossing again, but first, we had to do the Pearl Brook Apartments deviation again. And luckily, since this route gets a completely unrealistic two minutes to get from Emerald Place to there, we “made up some time,” so to speak – we were slightly less early.
|Serving lots of stuff here.|
Now we could re-deviate into Lunenburg Crossing, marking the beginning of the second and much longer leg of the trip. After that deviation, we headed east onto Mass Ave, going further into Lunenburg. What did going further into Lunenburg entail? Well…it was just some sparse houses. There was the occasional business. We went by a police/fire station at one point. Yay.
But soon, we arrived at Lunenburg Town Center! What was this? What was here? A post office, a town hall, a library, and some office-like businesses in one building? Wow! We also got to deviate into the Lunenburg Senior Center, even though it was a Saturday, and the center is closed on Saturdays. Classic.
|Welcome to the senior center.|
We still had one final deviation to do, though, and it was further east still! We came back onto Mass Ave, going by the Lunenburg High School, and then…there wasn’t much again. A few houses, a few businesses, a bunch of trees, a marsh, and that’s about it. It truly was the middle of nowhere. We eventually did come to our target: Meadow Wood Park, a trailer park. After briefly stopping outside, though, we had to continue down Mass Ave to serve a strange, tiny offshoot of it a half mile down the road. And that was where we looped around to go back.
|The larger chunk of Meadow Wood Park.|
MART Route: 7A (Lunenburg Shuttle)
Ridership: I can’t find any official counts, since this is a relatively new route, but I do have the count from the driver. Ready? Are you sure? Okay, here it is: 0-1 people per day. Zero…to one…people per day. Lord have mercy.
Pros: If this counts, I am rather impressed that MART is running a route in a tiny, middle-of-nowhere town six days a week. That’s a better service span than most minibus shuttles.
Cons: Keep in mind, though, that the first trip is at 12:26 PM. Service runs every 45 minutes until 4:11 PM. That’s a weird schedule. But also, the driver on my trip seemed to have a complete disregard for it! I guess it doesn’t matter either way, since no one uses this thing, but still! What if by chance, someone wants to? I don’t even know how he got so early! The running time is tight – the full loop really should take about 45 minutes. Yeah…this route is a mystery. Also, it’s terrible.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Literally CVS. That’s it.
Final Verdict: 1/10
0-1 people per day is all you need to know. Just kill this poor route already.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
That Emerald Place housing development was the former site of an amusement park, Whalom Park, named after the lake. It opened in 1893, making it the 13th oldest amusement park in America, as well as the second oldest trolley park (an amusement park built at the end of trolley lines to incentivize ridership). It closed, surprisingly enough, at the end of the 2000 season due to insurmountable competition from Six Flags New England in Agawam, and the last ride was removed by 2006.