We’re three routes away from finishing this darn system! Fittingly, our third-to-last review will be the 3, a route that calls itself “Dartmouth Street” but takes a pretty significant deviation away from it when it gets into New Bedford.

“Big Value Plaza”!

Now, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I did miss the route’s outbound-only deviation to Sol E Mar apartments. It basically makes a loop where it serves them on its way to Big Value Plaza, the shopping plaza in Dartmouth with nothing of note in it where the 3 officially starts. But while there’s a charming town center further south down the road, people aren’t gonna take the bus there, so we’re forced to start at this plaza named after a bargain store. Woo.

Too bad we don’t deviate…

We headed up Dartmouth Street, a road mostly lined with sprawly suburban businesses, with houses on the side streets. Honestly, the entire Dartmouth section of the route was like that, until six minutes later when we entered New Bedford and deviated into a Stop & Shop (connecting to the 5 and 6). Continuing up Dartmouth Street from there, the neighborhood was a lot more mixed-use, with businesses occupying the ground floors of dense houses and apartments.

The side streets were residential, meanwhile.

We passed a cemetery, and later on we made a sudden sharp turn onto Allen Street. We wouldn’t touch Dartmouth Street again for the rest of the route. Allen Street was all dense houses, and once we turned onto Page Street, it was clear why we were doing this deviation: it was to serve Saint Luke’s Hospital. Okay, that’s reasonable. What came after was annoying, though: left on Hawthorn Street, right on Rotch Street (which no bus should go down to begin with, since it’s just a local side street), right on Union Street. The street network does necessitate the jog, but it was a relief to take Union Street straight into downtown New Bedford, where we reached the bus terminal.

And this whole section was just houses.

SRTA Route: 3 (Dartmouth Street)

Ridership: As far as New Bedford routes go, the 3’s ridership is pretty lame: about 312 riders per day. But also, the route has among the worst productivity on the New Bedford system, and we’ll see why soon.

Pros: The route has great service on weekdays, running every half hour from 7 AM to past 9 PM. It also serves a lot, running down the main corridor of Dartmouth Street. The deviation to serve the hospital is annoying, but I get why the route does it.

Cons: On Saturdays, it’s every hour from 8 to 5, which is…significantly worse than weekdays. But also, why does this route with mediocre ridership get one of the best service weekdays of any SRTA route? This is why its productivity is so bad! Maybe some of those resources could be put onto higher-performing routes than this one. That jog to the hospital also gets even more annoying after 6 PM on weekdays, when for some reason, it doesn’t use Rotch Street, instead jogging further out to Rockdale Ave! Maybe it’s because residents don’t want big buses clogging up their tiny street at night? I’m not sure, but it’s very odd.

Nearby and Noteworthy: That nice downtown in Dartmouth is only a sidewalkless 20-minute walk away from Big Value Plaza! Oh, you want a place that’s actually on the bus route? Eh…

Final Verdict: 5/10
I see why it exists. I see why it does what it does. But that doesn’t make it any less unbearable to ride, and it doesn’t make the schedule any more logical. Oh well.

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