Yeah, just gonna say it right off the bat: this one is similar to the 1. Heck, the two routes even combine on Saturdays. Yes, the 8 serves similar neighborhoods, runs in a similar loopy shape, and even shares a large portion of its route with the 1. The main difference between them is that the 8 has more service at rush hour. Exciting stuff.

The bus coming into the Kennedy Center.

Alright, let’s get this redundant first bit out of the way quickly: up Thorndike Street, which becomes Dutton Street, through downtown Lowell onto Father Morissette Boulevard past the Lowell High School, and left onto Bridge Street over the Merrimack River. Shared portion with the 1 complete. We went up the main thoroughfare of Bridge Street for a little more before turning onto 6th Street, which quickly became dense houses.

Pretty cool intersection!

We got to a “downtown” area, which was a mess of five-way intersections and plenty of businesses. This is where the route’s loop section starts. We ran up Lakeview Ave, which quickly became residential, although one of the nearby houses was apparently Jack Kerouac’s birthplace. Entering Dracut, we merged onto the narrow Sladen Street, missing out on a major intersection with suburban businesses by a block.

The outskirts of the business intersection.

We turned onto Pleasant Street and then Hildreth Street, passing a Hannaford supermarket. There were some apartment developments after that, but once we got to a cemetery, it turned to normal houses again. Taking a right onto the narrow Ludlam Street, we made our way back to 6th Street, ending the loop.

A close side street.

LRTA Route: 8 (Centralville)

Ridership: The 8 has no slot in the LRTA’s Regional Transit Plan, so I have no concrete ridership info. I do have information on its combined Saturday service with the 1, which gets 119 people throughout the day on average. I also know from a driver that this route can get pretty busy at rush hour, so I would imagine its weekday ridership is higher. Then again, my weekday loop got 7 people. Slow period, maybe?

Pros: This one is a lot more logical than the 1, with a direct route and a sensible loop at the end. The schedule is also better, with hourly service throughout the day, but 30-40 minute headways at rush hour. Apparently it needs that, too!

Cons: I will say that like the 1, the 8 doesn’t have that much to call its own. That being said, I think the 8 is more unique than the 1 is, and it seems to get the ridership to back it up.

Nearby and Noteworthy: It’s not like Mr. Kerouac’s house has been turned into a museum or anything, but if you love his books, you can take the 8 to his house and awkwardly stare at it from outside. If that’s not your style, Vic’s looks like a cool local establishment to grab a bite.

Final Verdict: 7/10
Slightly better than the 1, I would say. It’s definitely a low 7, but this route seems to do pretty well for what it is. It’s simple, it has a fine schedule, and it seems to get good ridership.

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