Unlike the SEPTA debacle, the T has been getting better and better at releasing its schedule changes. These ones don’t come into play until June 23rd, and the website has a comprehensive list of everything changing – I’m barely needed here! But I can still make pithy remarks about all of them, right? Let’s do this.
CT3: The CT3’s rush hour short-turns from Andrew to the BU Medical Center are being eliminated. Those trips didn’t get much ridership, and their absence is being used to improve service along the rest of the line. It admittedly doesn’t do much to the morning rush (aside from making the 20-minute frequencies more consistent), but evening rush service improves from every half hour to every 21 minutes (okay, gross headway, but it’s still better). Reverse peak service is also more frequent than it was before, about five minutes better for most of the rush. Not that the CT3 gets at all busy in the reverse peak direction, but it’s still a nice thing to point out.
15: “Saturday schedule changes between 10:00 AM and 6:30 PM.” Does this mean the 15’s abysmal Saturday service is finally getting fixed??? Yes…sort of. Currently, the route operates every 15 minutes in the outbound direction, with every other trip ending at Kane Square; inbound service, however, is essentially every half hour because of really bad coordination. With this new schedule, outbound Saturday service will still be every 15 minutes, while inbound service will now run at (mostly) alternating intervals of 14-16 minutes. So much better. I do have to point out, though, that the Fields Corner trips are scheduled to take seven minutes longer to get from Kane Square to Dudley than the short-turns do, which makes no sense. I should also point out that the service is inconsistent, and gaps can be as small as 11 minutes and as large as 19, with random, inexplicable run time changes being the culprit. And finally, I should point out that this new schedule requires either a one-minute layover at Kane Square (seems risky) or an added bus to the route that just sits there for half an hour. I guess we’ll just have to see: will we get insanely unreliable inbound service, or will we get ridiculously long layovers at Kane Square?
16: A nice quality of life change: half-hourly service will now continue to 11 PM, when it used to end at 10. Anything helps!
21: Well, this is a little bizarre! The 21 will now run every 15 minutes or better all day on weekdays, up from every 20. That makes the 21 one of the most frequent non-key weekday routes on the entire system, which is crazy to me because the weekend service is still terrible! Every 45 minutes on Saturdays? Every hour on Sundays? What’s the deal with that? Still, kudos to the T for that weekday upgrade.
31: Oh yeah, speaking of non-key routes that provide frequent service, the 31 remains a route that is key in everything but name (well, except the every 21 minute Sunday service and infrequent weekend night service, which really make me want to rescind the 10/10 I gave it). This is an interesting schedule change: the 31 will run a consistent 8-10 minute headway all day on weekdays, rather than having a crazy every 5-6 minute rush hour. While on the one hand, the route’s rush hour service never gets significantly busier than midday (barring dropped trips), nearly doubling the headway could lead to very crowded buses. I think I’m tentatively in support of this, especially if the resources gained were used to help out the 21, but let’s just hope things don’t get too busy.
32: Uhhh…yeah, I don’t really get this one. That one Saturday morning 32/33 trip will now be operated as a 33, I guess? Nothing has changed beyond a small adjustment to the running time. If you use this trip, I’m fairly certain you don’t have to worry about anything.
39: In an effort to combat unreliability, weekend service will be slightly less frequent: Saturday service will run about every 12 minutes, down from every 10, while Sunday service will be every 13-14, down from every 11-12.
43: In an effort to combat unreliability, weekend service will be significantly less frequent. While the route currently runs every 20 minutes on Saturdays and every 25 on Sundays, it will soon run every half hour on both days. Particularly for Saturdays, that will make the route next to useless, although in the T’s defense, Saturday ridership by trip is super low. Not that this will help!!
44: The official description says “Saturday schedule changes throughout the day,” but it’s a lot less major than it sounds. A chunk of inbound trips from 6 AM to 9:15 AM will leave about five minutes later, and an extra inbound trip is being added at 7:14 PM. Overall, then, I guess it ends up being a net positive thanks to that extra trip! Woo!
45: Just a few departure time changes here and there, namely Saturday and Sunday evenings.
55: Another case of lost weekend service to help reliability. Saturday service will run every 40 minutes instead of every 35, and Sunday service will be less consistent in the inbound direction.
70/70A: Changes to the 70? Is it good yet? We’re just shifting some weekday trip times? Alright, cool. Wake me up when the route is actually, like, not completely insane.
71/73: Ah, and now we get to the Harvard Busway Renovation. The Harvard Upper Busway will be closed throughout the summer, and it’s affecting almost every route that runs through it (except the 86). For the 71 and 73, inbound buses will terminate at University Road while outbound buses will begin at Story Street. The upside to this, though, is that service will be slightly more frequent because of the shorter trip time! Rush hour will shave off a few minutes from the headway, as will Saturday and night service.
72: For routes that typically board from the Upper Busway, outbound buses will board in the Lower Busway and inbound buses will drop off at Brattle Street @ Palmer Street in Harvard Square. Unlike with the 71/73, this results in a longer trip time, and we end up with some fun headways. The 72, for example, will now run every 32 minutes on Saturdays instead of every 30, and the currently every 40 minute 72/75 will operate every [checks notes] 43-47 minutes. Oof.
74/75: For detour information, see 72 above. These routes aren’t horrendously affected by the detours, actually – they maintain their headways, just with running time changes (inbound trips will take longer).
76: Oh…hi, Alewife route. Just a couple of trips moving by five minutes? Alright.
77: For detour information, see 72 above. Despite being a minute less frequent at some times, the 77 mostly makes it out of this unscathed…with one major exception: my beloved 77A will cease to exist! Yes, because of the detour, trackless trolleys will have to use Huron Ave to get from North Cambridge to the 71/73, meaning no more 77A trips to and from the garage. They had better be reinstated after the detour is complete! I love those things!
78: For detour information, see 72 above. Yikes, we’ve got some rough new headways here: every 37-38 minutes on weekdays, every 70 minutes on Saturdays, and new inconsistent departure times on Sundays.
89: There are lots of time shifts on weekdays and Saturdays, but no frequency is lost (although there are some weird inconsistent departure times now). On Sundays, meanwhile, all trips will terminate at Davis with nothing continuing on to Clarendon Hill. Does the shorter route length mean we’ll get better service than the current every 70 minute schedule? No? Ugh.
93: The 1:08 AM bus from Sullivan will no longer hold for the last train. My guess for why they got rid of this is that some people use its return trip from downtown, and that might’ve been getting late from waiting for the train. Just in case the last train happens to arrive after 1:08, there will be a new 1:40 bus from Sullivan that will probably get nobody (although it does connect to the 2:00 trip from Haymarket – waiting for the last train could’ve also caused the bus to be late for this journey). I guess there are decent reasons to not have the 1:08 trip hold, but the loss of the guaranteed connection won’t help ridership, and the 2:00 trip is on the chopping block anyway.
94: Some weekday headways will be shorter, some weekday headways will be longer, but ultimately, service will be lost. The schedule is kind of a mess so it’s hard to be more specific than that, but ultimately, the route will be running slightly fewer trips than it does now. Also, weirdly, the outbound-only variant that runs via Medford High School will still operate that way, despite the fact that it’s summer and there’s no one to drop off there!
96: For detour information, see 72 above. Wisely, given the Harvard Square detour, one more inbound Davis Square short-turn is added in the morning rush, and peak-direction headways stay pretty intact as a result. Not so for the evening rush, where service will be every 25 minutes instead of every 20. There are some weekend running time changes to accommodate for the detour, too. Annoyingly, the paper schedule for the 96 doesn’t reference the detour at all, which should really be rectified to avoid confusion!
99: A few running time changes and an extra outbound trip in the afternoon. I can never complain about extra trips, even if it is just one!
101: There are a few small trip time changes on weekdays, but nothing crazy. Probably to help reliability (which is abysmal on this route), weekend service will no longer loop through Malden Square, but it should be noted that the running times stay almost exactly the same. Anything to get the route’s on-time rate above 65%, eh?
108: Two early afternoon Sunday outbound trips are moving up by five minutes.
109: “Weekday inbound trip eliminated at 2:30 PM.” Yeah, but…that’s a school trip. Of course it’s being eliminated – it’s summer. Unless…is it being eliminated forever? I doubt it, because it’s a busy trip during the school year. I dunno, this one is just confusing.
110: The first inbound trip at 5 AM will now leave at 4:55.
116/117: The 116/117 currently have an odd weekday schedule where midmorning service is every 15 minutes, while early afternoon service is every 10 minutes. This update will make the route every 12 minutes throughout the midday, which I think is an improvement.
134: I was excited here, because I thought the 134’s butchering from last rating would be fixed. Nope – just a few running time changes. At least the 6:10 AM outbound trip will now go all the way to North Woburn…
225: The Saturday inbound trip at 7:45 AM will now depart at 7:40.
238: A new inbound trip at 9:02 PM is being added – it’s probably coming from a 240. Meanwhile, weekend service gets more inconsistent, although the headways themselves are fairly similar to what they are now most of the time.
240: On weekdays, the 5:41 AM outbound trip will travel to Holbrook/Randolph instead of Avon. Also, the 9:02 PM inbound trip will no longer run – I guess I was right, it’s now a 238! For Saturdays…oh boy, what was once a clean half-hourly schedule will now be every 25-40 minutes. Yeah, it’s as crazy as it sounds. Finally, Sunday has departure time shifts throughout the day, which the T forgot to mention on its list…
326: Haha, remember last rating when the T got rid of a bunch of morning peak 326 trips and I said it would be a disaster? Well, I guess it was, because the T is restoring most of those morning rush trips!
426: As far as clean clockface headways go, another one bites the dust: weekday trips will be much more inconsistent, despite no actual loss of service.
428: Running times will be longer on all trips.
429: A route with hourly service, huh? Nah, I like 64-76 minute service instead. Totally better! Really! Yes, I know the 429 is ridiculously unreliable, but this is just awful, and it’s frustrating how many routes are getting this treatment! Sigh…also, inbound Sunday trips will be three minutes shorter, but that wasn’t on the T’s list either. And Sunday service is just as unreliable as weekday service, so unless all 42% of those “not on time” buses were early, I really don’t see why we’re doing this.
436: The three trips between 6 and 7:30 AM get shifted by 3-10 minutes.
442: This is such a minutely positive change, but I’ll take what I can get at this point: the 7:40 PM inbound trip will now go to Wonderland instead of West Lynn Garage.
450: A few time shifts between the evening rush and about midnight; some are bigger than others, so check the schedule if you travel during these times, particularly at night.
455: Like the 450, we have time shifts between the evening rush and nighttime. These ones are generally less severe than the 450’s.
459: The 459 gets one last hurrah, I guess: despite the fact that it’s being eliminated in the fall, the route ends up with better service this rating! Headways are still inconsistent, but they average at about 60-70 minutes, unlike the current service that’s about every two hours! Hey, it’s nice to end on a positive note.
There was some really good stuff at the beginning of this. The frequency improvements on the 21 were a big highlight, as was the 15 getting at least a little bit more rational on Saturdays. But from there, it just came back to the same thing we see every rating: getting rid of clockface headways. I know reliability is important, and MBTA buses are late all the time, but these schedules are just insane. We need more vehicles or better transit infrastructure or something, because it is so frustrating watching perfectly good schedules degenerate into crazy ones every single time they change. Anyway…come fall, we get Phase 1 of Better Bus, so hopefully I’ll be more positive then!
Love your posts! I’m no longer in Boston, but when I was I used the 89/101 and the 16 regularly. I love to keep up on the happenings with the system even though I no longer use it regularly. Thanks for everything you do!
Thanks a lot for the comment! Glad to hear you still keep up with the goings-on of the T.
I’m not particularly too concerned about clockface schedules in general, at least on the T. If there were a lot more intermodal interlining opportunities happening, I’d understand, but a journey will take as long as it will and wherever you happen to show up along the route, you’re going to expect some flex in arrival and departure times. And there are plenty of other complexities that prevent a lot of perfection, but we could get into that another time.
Smaller agencies running trunk routes or long hauls or just less frequent service, that’s where I’d be concerned.
When will the CT1/1 better bus project proposal come into affect?
All of the Better Bus changes are happening in September.
You should do a quick mention of the rapid transit schedule changes. I’d like to know some of the logic on these, like for example Green Line C branch is going from 10 minute late night headways to 6 minute late night headways… and the E branch is losing some more service.
Weird, I hadn’t even thought to look at those. The C’s increase in headway almost seems like a typo, it’s WAY more frequent than anything else running at night, and more frequent than even its evening peak service! Also nice to see that the Orange Line is boosting frequency a bit.