At this point, I had been riding the SRTA more or less continuously for 9 hours, so as you can imagine, I was exhausted. Ergo, I wasn’t happy when for the second-to-last route, the SRTA decided to throw me this:

So that’s what we’re up against. The NB 6. Ugh.

Bad picture. Oh well.

We began by heading west on Mill Street, passing houses and a few businesses. We then turned north onto Park Street (bearing in mind this route’s final destination is south), a local road through a residential neighborhood. Next, it was a right onto Parker Street for two blocks, then a left onto Shawmut Ave.

Yup, just this for a while.

There were some small businesses at the intersection with Durfee Street, then a bit of industry at Potter Street. We turned onto Potter, a local road that went past a housing development. When that road ends, many trips just take a left. But I was on one of the ones that gets to do an additional deviation! Oh boy! Right we go!

That housing development on Potter Street.

So we went over Route 140 and entered a residential neighborhood. The following streets are so local that you really wouldn’t expect a bus to be using them. Also, bear in mind that our driver was flying around each turn, probably to get this stupid deviation over with faster. Okay, here we go: left on Granite Ave, left on Sandstone Drive, right on Pamela Drive, left on Carriage Drive, right on Bryant Lane, right on Hill Road, right on Rockway Street, right on Roseanne Street, left on Pamela Drive, left on Sandstone Drive, right on Granite Ave, right on Rockdale Ave. I had no idea where we were, all I could see was houses, no one was getting on or off, and I just wanted the ride to be over.

The right side of the picture that’s in focus is me before the deviation. The left side that’s all blurry is me after the deviation. I have no idea why this photo came out like it did, by the way.

Well, at least now we could continue with the regular route on Rockdale Ave, which was mostly residential, although we did also go by an elementary school and the New Bedford Police Headquarters. At this point, we had been driving for about 20 minutes, but crossing the one-way pairs of Mill and Kempton Streets, it dawned on me that the 9 and 10 run here…and arrive in a third of the time! It was houses after the brief splurge of businesses around those streets.

Not interesting businesses either.

Oh, hey the 6 has a by request deviation to the Buttonwood Community Center! That’s right, if you’re going outbound, just ask the driver to take you there; if you’re going inbound, you have to talk to the secretary at the community center to call SRTA to deviate the bus for you. Oh, gee, that’s real intuitive. Luckily it only does this deviation on weekdays (although I doubt it happens much to begin with), so we just sped by the community center and the rest of Buttonwood Park.

The edge of the park.

Oh, this route is nefarious. Just when I was starting to get used to being on the same street for a while, we got to do…a deviation! Yes, we took a left on Hawthorn Street, a road that was, yes, way too local for a bus, passing, yes, more houses. These were generally bigger and more spacious than the ones we had been seeing before. We turned onto Page Street in order to serve Saint Luke’s Hospital (along with the 3), then it was a right onto Allen Street to head right back to where we were before.

Did I mention houses?

There were a few businesses when we turned back onto Rockdale Ave (for what felt like the 50th time). It quickly turned back to houses, though, but there was also a bit of retail and a big cemetery, so that was a nice change of pace. Finally, we reached Dartmouth Street, and this was where we made our final deviation into a Stop & Shop. The bus stopped in this weird industrial area next to the store, but at this point, I really didn’t care. We were done.

It had already become the 5 when we got to Stop & Shop, so here’s the bus back when I got on at the hub.

SRTA Route: NB 6 (Shawmut/Rockdale)

Ridership: This route has the second-lowest ridership in New Bedford if you don’t count the North End Shuttle (which, frankly, I don’t). It got about 252 people per day in May 2014.

Pros: Well, hey, on the bright side…it does serve stuff. That is an advantage over the North End Shuttle.

Cons: The route itself is absolutely bonkers. You’ve seen the map! You know how many crazy turns it takes! Not to mention the “Rockdale West Extension” deviation, that one where it loops around a residential area, and the Buttonwood Community Center deviation, the on-request one that I’m sure very very very few people use because…it’s an on-request deviation. During the day, the route has a sad schedule, with service every 45 minutes on weekdays and every hour on Saturdays, which I suppose matches demand, at least (although the Rockdale West deviation makes some trips longer, creating confusion in the timetable – and they carry over to the 5 on Saturdays when the two routes interline). There’s an additional school trip that skips part of the route in order to serve New Bedford High School, but…it only happens in the morning? That doesn’t make sense! Usually school trips run in the afternoon because the end of the school day doesn’t align with parents’ work hours. Plus, New Bedford has an extensive list of its own school bus routes, although strangely, they don’t seem to run in the afternoon either. Maybe the school just sucks up its students for them never to return…

Nearby and Noteworthy: This is the closest bus route to the Buttonwood Park Zoo, which does look awesome, but just take the 9 or 10 and walk a little bit. It’ll be a lot less painful.

Final Verdict: 3/10
I thought the North End Shuttle was useless. And, to be fair, it got a lower score than the 6. But honestly, I think this might be my least-favorite SRTA route. I mean, it’s trying to be crosstown but it still leaves from the terminal! It ends up not working as both a radial route and a crosstown route. But…what if it did become a crosstown line? And what if in doing so, it could make another route a lot simpler? Take a look:

I turned the 6 into a fully circumferential route and had it take over the 11‘s deviation to Market Basket, thus eliminating its redundant portion with the 2 in New Bedford (and providing overall more residents with a one-seat ride to Market Basket). One flaw with this plan, though, is that the 6’s radial section out of New Bedford is lost. This is definitely a tough tradeoff, but most of that part of the route is within a 3-minute walk of the 8.

In Fairhaven, I originally had buses going to the town center further south on Main Street, since I had lamented the fact that no bus actually runs there. However, people probably wouldn’t take the bus there, especially when it’s a circumferential route, plus residents would likely oppose and the streets in that neighborhood are very narrow (not that that hasn’t stopped the SRTA before).

I tried to write a schedule for this, but SRTA interlines like crazy at the terminal with no rhyme or reason that I can see. If it’s helpful, though, a one-way trip on this new route 6 should take about 35 minutes, an outbound 11 trip (with all the deviations) should take about 20 minutes (an improvement of 15 minutes over the current route!), and an inbound 11 trip should take, no joke, about 10 minutes. I think it’s about time the SRTA looked into doing a redesign…

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