The route that’s furthest back in my backlog is one that I wanted to save to be the last MART route I review. I was all set to write it up, and then…they added this. So before I can talk about that route, I have to talk about the Littleton – Westford Commuter Rail Shuttle, which finally (at rush hour only) bridges the gap between MART and LRTA.

Of course it’s a dial-a-ride vehicle…

Now this is a cool shuttle because it serves park-and-rides for regular commuters as well as office parks for reverse commuters. My friend and I were heading outbound in the evening rush, so we were seeing the extent of the park-and-ride ridership, which was…no one. All ready to go, the minibus joined the queue of cars leaving the station, and we pulled out onto the woodsy residential Foster Street.

A few houses and a bunch of trees.

Once we merged with King Street, we entered some form of civilization. The houses got denser, and we soon came into Littleton Common, which consisted of some businesses with parking lots and a town common bisected by a road. The bus is supposed to deviate to the “IBM Park and Ride” (a desolate portion of the giant IBM office lot), but since the driver had asked where we were going, he knew to skip the stop.

The IBM building, which is also served by trips in the opposite direction for reverse commuters.

The LRTA 15 ends at IBM on its trip from Lowell, so as we entered Westford, we were now on a double-RTA street! It was called Littleton Road now as we went by Kimball Farm and a marsh, but that bucolic charm was ruined when we entered an area of endless office parks. There were a few shopping plazas before we turned onto Technology Park Drive, a fitting name. After doing a spirally deviation into another “Park and Ride,” this one within the lot for Juniper Networks, we made our way to the Hampton Inn, the last stop before the bus would return to Littleton.

Wow, front-door service! Imagine staying at this Hampton Inn, it’s perfect!

MART Route: Littleton – Westford Commuter Rail Shuttle

Ridership: That’s a big fat zero, and no one got on at any of the office parks before Hampton Inn either. Maybe some of the ones on the way back generate a few riders?

Pros: I seriously can’t speak highly enough about this route on paper! A commuter shuttle that serves both regular commuters and reverse commuters in the same corridor, timing with trains to and from Boston? I mean, it’s perfect!

Cons: I think one earlier trip in the morning and one later trip in the evening would be helpful. This definitely seems to be more geared toward office park employees, but if they wanted to make the park-and-rides more appealing (I mean, heck, $2.50 per day on the bus beats the $6 per day at Littleton), a bit more service would be great to give people options.

Nearby and Noteworthy: You could use this to get to destinations in Littleton if you want to, I guess. Littleton Common has some cool businesses. But most of the time, the LRTA 15 will probably be the better bet here.

Final Verdict: 4/10
The ridership just isn’t there right now, from what I can gather. Maybe some internal advertising within the office parks the route serves combined with a bit of extra service could increase that. It’s great on paper, but I can’t really justify giving it higher than a 4 given the ridership I saw. For what it’s worth, though, thanks to this route, you could now conceivably get from Salisbury Beach to Enfield, CT using only RTAs!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates