Okay…time to do the 20, but in the opposite direction! Yeah, sorry if the 21 ends up being a bit redundant…
So we headed straight up Federal Street, leaving downtown Greenfield pretty quickly in favor of more suburban businesses (complete with parking lots), with residential side streets. We did a slight deviation from the 20’s route, both literally and figuratively, by heading up to and looping around Cherry Rum Plaza, a mall that’s even more dead now than it was when I rode this thing. We came back down to the 20’s route on Silver Street, running through the mostly residential neighborhood that was also home to the Greenfield High School.
We crossed a train track and then turned onto Leyden Road, crossing I-91 and heading past some increasingly far-apart houses. It led up to the Leyden Woods apartment development, though, which was a huge ridership destination. We took Leyden Road back down, and it eventually became Conway Street before we merged onto Elm Street.
Elm Street was mostly residential, both with houses and apartment developments, although there was also a random prison along there. We suddenly turned onto the woodsy Colrain Street, which ran over I-91 and entered a roundabout, where we continued onto College Drive. After some open fields and farms, we looped around Greenfield Community College.
We came back down to that rotary and headed south on Colrain Road (different from Colrain Street). This led us to our next deviation, this one into the Mohawk Mall Shopping Center. Wait, FRTA has a different name for it…”Big Y Plaza”? Oh great, so we’re on the PVTA now.
Now, my friend and I had very specifically chosen one of the two 21 trips per day that deviates into the Greenfield RMV – very important. So you can imagine my sadness when we took the Mohawk Trail straight past it without deviating! Come on! At least this was also one of the every-two-hour Corporate Center trips, meaning a long jog on the way back. That began with a turn onto Newton Street.
We passed a Tractor Supply Co. as we turned onto the woodsy Fairview Street, then there was a very small residential area and a church when we took a left onto Munson Street. That essentially entered the woods again, with a few houses and industrial buildings here and there. Once we headed left on Wisdom Way, we passed a bunch of stuff: more houses, a couple of cemeteries, an apartment development, and a horse racing track. Things suddenly got dense after we crossed the Green River, with lots of houses leading us back to the JWO Transit Center.
FRTA Route: 21 (Greenfield Community)
Ridership: The 21 got the second-highest ridership on the system in 2014, and that was with a 90-minute headway! Now that it’s every 60 minutes, I would guess that the 112 riders a day it got then have gone up slightly. My trip got 11 people, which for a minibus circulator in a small town is pretty good!
Pros: For a system whose service area is as rural as the FRTA’s is, it makes sense to have something that circulates around the most urban part of the that system. It’s the FRTA’s most frequent route, with consistent hourly headways from 8 AM to 7 PM – the only exceptions are the 2:00 trip leaving at 2:15 instead, probably to time with the end of the day at Greenfield High School, and the last trip departing at 6:50 for some reason.
Cons: This circulator needs three variants? Really? Yeah, there’s the one that skips the Corporate Center and the one that serves the Corporate Center (which alternate between each other throughout the day), plus the one that serves both the Corporate Center and the RMV, although apparently it doesn’t actually serve the RMV. The running times are all over the place, too, with some weird inconsistencies throughout the schedule. And it’s a shame the route only runs on weekdays, but I suppose you can say that about any FRTA route – as their most urban run, though, it feels especially prudent here. I could get annoyed about the fact that it’s a one-way loop, but the FRTA has such limited resources that I get it; the 21 gets a pass on that front.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Not much that’s not within walking distance of the JWO Transit Center.
Final Verdict: 5/10
Between this and the 20, the whole Greenfield circulator system is just a mess. This is obviously the better of the two because it runs all day, but streamlining the two routes into one and cutting back on variants would be a good start to simplifying the system. The 21 is middle-of-the-road otherwise – it does its job, but in a very loopy and unattractive way.
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