It’s a little bit less exciting to do a GATRA route when it’s one of the numbered Attleboro-Taunton ones – I mean, these ones feel like, you know, actual real legitimate bus routes. At least, as close to an actual real legitimate bus route as you can get…it is still GATRA we’re talking about, after all. Thus, the 6 is very likely to offer plenty of weird quirks to keep it from being an actual real legitimate bus route.
The 6 is the only route that serves dense northern Taunton, so its legitimacy is helped there. I mean, leaving Bloom Terminal (still one of my favorite reviews ever), we had a whole FIVE PEOPLE on board! Go GATRA! (look, any GATRA bus with more than two people has to be breaking some record) Suburban businesses lined Washington Street, the road leaving Bloom Terminal. Interestingly, the 6 bypasses downtown Taunton, staying on Washington Street and running past Morton Hospital.
We merged onto Broadway after the hospital right outside of the magnificent Saint Mary’s Church, which was mostly residential; most of the businesses that did show up were in houses. Soon we headed onto Bay Street, which was lined with more dense houses. It’s also worth noting that in typical GATRA fashion, the 6’s map is mislabelled – the section on Bay Street is shown as Washington Street, and vice versa for the section on Washington Street! Never change, GATRA…
Some retail appeared between the houses too, often in little clumps around intersections. In particular, the crossing with Whittenton Street played host to a little square of businesses (GATRA calls it “Whittenton 3 Corners”, despite the fact that it’s a four-way intersection) – Whittenton is the namesake of the route, so presumably this spot is important! More dense houses led us to where Washington Street merges into Bay Street, and from there the area got a more leafy, suburban residential character.
It’s at this point that GATRA’s map just completely ignores reality – this bus would need some insane off-roading tires for its depiction to work. Rather than veer west immediately like the map says, Bay Street curved its way around Lake Sabbatia, offering great views of the clear blue water and houses surrounding it! At one point the lake houses broke for an alternate entrance to the Myles Standish Industrial Park (we’d be heading there later), a parking lot for the lake’s public boat launch, and several apartment complexes.
We went by another body of water, Watson Pond, complete with its own park and beach. From there, a stretch of woodsy houses led us to a sudden burst of suburban development next to I-495 – this was Northwoods, which contains a BJ’s, a medical center, and several fringe fast food restaurants. We deviated into that before crossing the street onto Miles Standish Boulevard, running through its extensive eponymous industrial park. As you can imagine, on my Saturday ride, absolutely no one was coming to this land of offices, and I’m sure my driver was questioning what the heck I was doing on board. The bus turned onto John Hancock Boulevard and then Constitution Drive, where we reached the end of the line. My friend Sam was waiting in his car to pick me up!
GATRA Route: 6 (Whittenton)
Ridership: The 6 is the second-busiest route in Taunton on weekdays, getting an average of 155 riders per day. However, I think a lot of those people are heading to the industrial park or to school, since the Saturday ridership is WAY lower: 67 riders. This means that while the 6 is actually GATRA’s most productive non-peak-only route on weekdays, on Saturdays it drops down to around the average.
Pros: Besides the North Woods jog, this route has no deviations to speak of, which for GATRA should just make it a 10 already! This route takes a logical path in general, tracing a straight line through northern Taunton. The argument could be made that it should deviate into downtown Taunton, but I think it travels close enough that it’s not a huge deal, and I admire GATRA for making that concession for the sake of directness. The headways are decent too, with hourly service on weekdays and Saturdays and more frequent buses at rush hour (every 50 minutes in the morning peak and every 30 in the evening).
Cons: Okay…parts of this schedule are weird. Sure, it’s a shame that service stops running at 6 PM on weekdays and 4 PM on Saturdays, but no – there’s some weirdness here too. For example, why does the 2:37 inbound trip on weekdays take eight minutes longer than every other trip to get from Morton Hospital to Bloom Terminal? Why is the 7:48 inbound trip on weekdays given just five minutes from the industrial park to Bay and Washington when all other trips get ten (and it’s impossible to do it in any less)? And are they such a resource-constrained system that they had to throw in what is presumably a lunch break on Saturdays that completely throws off the otherwise even schedule? So many questions…
Nearby and Noteworthy: Not much of note, honestly. “Whittenton 3 Corners” has a few local restaurants, including a Cape Verdean one – pretty cool!
Final Verdict: 7/10
Are my standards for GATRA too low? They may well be…I mean, hey, this is a legitimately solid route! For a pretty non-transit dependent city, the 6 does a good job, garnering decent ridership (on weekdays, at least) on a direct path with barely any deviations! Yeah…my standards for GATRA are definitely too low. I’ll regret this score in a few days.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates