Wednesday, January 17, 2018

CATA: Purple Line (Gloucester - West Gloucester - Essex Town Line)

It turns out that "Essex Town Line" means exactly that: this route starts right at the border between Essex and Gloucester. There's not even a signed stop or a proper loop! The bus literally just bangs a u-turn in the middle of Eastern Ave and comes straight back. Let's flag down the Purple Line, I guess.

The bus after performing its loop.
Well gosh, the biggest characteristic of the Purple Line is that it is just nonstop speed. We sailed down Essex Ave past woods and sparse houses as fast as was possible on the twisty road! And there really wasn't much else - we passed a church at one point, and there was a self-storage facility just before we went under Route 128, but that was about it for variety.

Whizzing by the church.
We just kept on truckin'. There was a short marsh view just before we passed West Gloucester Station, but though the houses got a little denser after that, it still wasn't enough to support even a single passenger. Finally, we passed some businesses amidst a sudden marsh, and we merged with Western Ave. This went along the water, and at this point I got off the bus in order to catch the Stage Fort Park Trolley.

Don't worry, I got off very close to the end of the route.
CATA Route: Purple Line (Gloucester - West Gloucester - Essex Town Line)

Ridership: HA! Yeah, weekday ridership is 24 riders and Saturday ridership is 11. And I'll bet the only reason weekday ridership is so "high" is because of the route's school trips, which do get pretty busy from what I've seen. This is so abysmally low it's amazing to think that CATA's been running this route for years.

Pros: It serves West Gloucester! Not that they really need it...

Cons: Oh come on, why should this route exist outside of school trips? It only runs three times per weekday and four times per Saturday - it's not exactly an easy schedule to plan your day around! What's the deal with the weekday schedule, anyway? One of the three trips is at 5:49 AM and it only runs from Gloucester to West Gloucester Station before turning around. Are people actually using that??? There's not even a return trip in the evening rush - the last one is at 4! Also, just for funsies, did you know that the route has a fare recovery ratio of 3%, and its subsidies are $20.49 and $34.50 per passenger on weekdays and Saturdays, respectively? Wow, CATA is killing themselves by running this thing!

Nearby and Noteworthy: I don't mean this lightly: this route serves absolutely nothing of interest. It's almost all houses.

Final Verdict: 1/10
Okay, even CATA admits that this should be reduced to school trips! That's the only time when it gets any sort of meaningful ridership, and the only time it should run. It could easily be replaced by a call-in service that's open to anyone, because then buses would only need to head out there when they need to. Gosh, this is such a stupid route!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Something bigger and much more important is coming out tomorrow, the blog's fifth anniversary. I wonder what it could be...

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

CATA: Purple Line (SEASONAL: Ipswich - Essex - Crane Beach)

Reviewing a summer-only route in January...great. The Ipswich-Essex Explorer (say it three times fast!) is Ipswich's summer shuttle to Crane Beach, and that's where 99% of the riders take it. Of course, being the stickler I am, I had to get one of the three trips per day that also goes to Essex! So there I was waiting for the bus at Ipswich Station at 12:30 PM.

I am so sick of these types of buses...
A bus pulled in at around 12:20 and I asked the driver if he was going to Essex. He said no, I should wait for the other bus. See, the Ipswich-Essex Explorer technically has a schedule, but on "favorable beach days" they add a second bus and the schedule goes out the window. I waited some more until a second bus pulled in.

These buses are just so ugly!
[I step onto the bus.]
DRIVER: I can promise you that this is not the bus you want.
ME: It is, I'm going to Essex.
DRIVER: Well, then, let's get your fare paid!
[Long exchange as driver attempts to decipher the overly-complicated fare system. Eventually we figure out how to get a fare to Essex paid on a CharlieCard. Once this is done, I sit down.]
DRIVER: Cambridge!
ME: What?
DRIVER: Do you remember me?
ME: Uhhhh...
DRIVER: I drove you on the Beverly Shuttle last week!
ME: Oh wow, good to see you again!

Yes, my bus was being driven by the awesome driver from the Beverly Shuttle. Great! Also, his opening line definitely says something about how much traffic this route gets going to Essex...

"Let's get out of here," the driver said as we left the station.
We headed down Peatfield Street, then we turned onto Estes Street. This was basically just a loop in a residential neighborhood in order to get out of the station and onto Market Street, the heart of downtown Ipswich. There were charming small businesses everywhere!

I miss all the greenery of summer...
We turned onto Main Street next, which took us over the Ipswich River and past a few more businesses. As it curved eastward, though, there were a few museums and historical houses before it just got plain ol' residential as it went southward and became County Street. However, we went straight by Argilla Road, which the route is supposed to turn onto to go to Crane Beach.

Hey, we're missing our turn!
ME: Are we not going to Crane Beach?
DRIVER: No, we're going to Essex.
ME: Isn't the route supposed to go to Crane Beach?
DRIVER: The other bus went to Crane Beach!
ME: Oh, okay.
DRIVER: Do you want to go to Crane Beach?
ME: I mean, it would be great for the review.
DRIVER: [name of passenger], do you mind if we go up to Crane Beach?
PASSENGER: Nope, as long as we get to Wolf Hollow in time.
DRIVER: Okay, Miles, you've got yourself a deal, you crazy kid!

And thus, we turned around and backtracked to Argilla Road. Like I said, awesome driver!

Coming out of the YMCA we used to turn around.
We got to Argilla Road by using Ward and Linden Streets, small residential roads. Now on Argilla, we sped through a lot of woods with many houses hidden behind driveways. It eventually got more marshy, and there was a section of practically nothing except for the Ascot Riding Center, a horse riding school (whose most talented rider I know personally - you know who you are!).

What a beautiful day!
Soon the immediate surroundings around Argilla Road got woodsy again, but there was marshland beyond the layer of hidden houses. We also went by Russell Orchards, a public farm that gets its own Ipswich-Essex Explorer stop. For a while after that, though, it was pure forest until we finally broke into marshland again.

More marshes.
We passed roads leading to a big public mansion called Castle Hill, and things started to get a lot sandier after that. After going past the "guardhouse" of the beach, where drivers pay their entrance fee, we navigated through the parking lot and pulled up right at the pedestrian entrance. The other bus was sitting there and the drivers had a brief conversation about how crazy I am, then we looped around back onto Argilla Road and headed out.

A lone coach bus.
We took Argilla Road all the way back to County Road, onto which we turned again. We came back to that YMCA and the various housing developments around it, and at that point we merged onto Essex Road. This quickly grew residential, but there was also a garden center and a golf course to break up the sparse houses.

"Parking lot full"? Not if you take the bus, baby!
We arrived at Wolf Hollow, where the one passenger disembarked. From there, we continued down the road, which became John Wise Ave when we entered Essex. It was still mostly just sparse houses interspersed with huge amounts of marshland, aside from a golf course and a few businesses here and there.

Cows!
Eventually the road became Main Street and the houses got a heck of a lot denser and more historical. We were now in "Essex Center" for what it's worth, although it's mostly just a bunch of antique shops and the Shipbuilding Museum. Once Main Street became an isthmus in the middle of a bunch of marshland, we went by a few restaurants, including the famous Woodman's, which gets special recognition on the route map.

Going over a bridge in Essex.
Once we reached the end of the Essex route a little past Woodman's, I told the driver about how I was planning on catching the (other) Purple Line at Essex Town Line 1.6 miles away. I had 18 minutes to somehow walk/run that distance. "You'll do it in 12!" the driver proclaimed as I stepped off the bus. And after huffing and puffing my way down Eastern Ave, I reached Essex Town Line and checked my watch: it had indeed taken 12 minutes.

Thank you for your inspiration!
CATA Route: Purple Line (SEASONAL: Ipswich - Essex - Crane Beach)

Ridership: Considering how many trips it gets per day, the Ipswich-Essex Explorer gets pretty good ridership. The weekends-only seasonal shuttle gets about 150 people per Saturday and 210 per Sunday. I think I rode it on a slow day, because even the Crane Beach bus only had four passengers, but I've heard that the route can get a full-seated load or even standees.

Pros: As centrally located as it is, Ipswich Station is unfortunately quite far from the town's biggest draw, Crane Beach. As such, this is the perfect connector to get between the station and the beach. It times very well with trains for the most part, at least in the outbound direction. It also serves a variety of other attractions along the way, even timing with Wolf Hollow presentations. The fare for Crane Beach is $5.00, which seems steep at first, but it's actually not bad: it includes the $2.00 admission fee and it's round-trip, so you're really just paying $1.50 in each direction. Finally, this thing has great advertising - I'm sure you've seen one of its posters on the subway!

Cons: Someone needs to figure out how to program this into the fareboxes better, because it's apparently very hard to set up! Anyway, what else is there? The inbound trips time horribly with Commuter Rail trains: for two out of three of the afternoon inbound trips, passengers have to wait over 40 minutes at Ipswich Station for a train! I'm sure this is better on beach days when there are two buses running, as they probably time it better, but the lack of information about this for the passenger is astounding and a big turn-off for the route, I think.

Nearby and Noteworthy: There's plenty, although I think the biggest draw is Crane Beach by far. Who's going to take the bus to Essex? There's a reason it only runs there three times a day.

Final Verdict: 6/10
This is a fine summer shuttle, but it could be better. I have confidence that the route can make it to the station on time when it's running with two vehicles, but to a passenger looking at the schedule, it appears that there's absolutely no way of timing with trains. That's such a problem for the attractiveness of the route! It's a big drawback for ridership.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Monday, January 15, 2018

CATA: Yellow Line (City of Beverly Shuttle)

Who knew Beverly had its own circulator route? And who knew it costs a mere 50 cents to ride, or 25 cents for seniors and people with disabilities? It has an 8 dollar monthly pass! Of course, to get where you want to go on the Yellow Line, you have to sit through a lot of deviations...

The bus at its layover point at Beverly City Hall.
The second I stepped on the bus at Beverly Station (where it flew around the corner and I sprinted up to it), I was introduced to a very kind and talkative driver. A melting pot of quips and dad jokes, he made this abysmal ride a lot easier to stomach, and his interactions with the passengers (and their interactions with each other) were interesting to observe. This is one of those routes whose clientele could have their own sitcom based on the nature of their banter.

Coming off of Edwards Street.
We immediately turned onto Railroad Ave, then Rantoul Street, which was lined with multi-story apartment buildings. Next, we turned onto the narrow Edwards Street, then Cabot Street, the main drag of Beverly. It was residential at first with dense houses on both sides, but before we could enter downtown Beverly, we turned onto Central Street. This was a deviation from what the route is supposed to do, and it involved looping through a residential neighborhood (via Lovett and Thorndike Streets) in order to pull up to City Hall from the side and lay over.

This isn't right!
With that out of the way, we could return to the regular route on Cabot Street, which was now lined with the charming buildings and businesses of downtown Beverly. The further we got, though, the more they started to thin out, and eventually it was once again a residential neighborhood. Soon the street curved west and there was suburban retail around a level crossing with the Rockport Line.

A shopping plaza.
We turned onto Colon Street for a block before merging onto Sohier Road. This was only for a deviation to serve Garden City Towers, an apartment building whose parking lot we looped around before returning to Cabot Street. There were more suburban businesses for a bit, but it soon got residential.

A school bus on a residential street.
We turned onto Balch Street and after a level crossing with the Commuter Rail, we passed a few schools and the northern edge of the Cummings Center complex, then we turned onto McKay Street outside of a golf course. The houses were definitely getting more spread out now, although there were some suburban businesses as we looped back around onto Cabot Street.

A busy gas station.
Coming back down Cabot Street, there were some churches, another school, a huge construction site, and more houses. We had another Commuter Rail level crossing before joining up with an earlier part of the route for a block. Once again we left Cabot Street, though, this time on Herrick Street, which led us past the huge Beverly High School and some more dense houses.

Oh boy, deviation time!
After a few housing developments, we headed into the huge Beverly Hospital. Once that deviation was completed, we came back onto Herrick Street for a bit before turning onto Brimbal Ave. This street was a whole lot of suburban houses, and they continued as we turned onto Essex Street (although Essex had a few weird office parks, too).

Turning onto the foggy Brimbal Ave.
It started to get more woodsy, and just before the road went over Route 128, we turned into the Centerville Woods Complex. This was basically just a series of apartment buildings, and we looped around them before coming back onto Essex and...going back the way we came for quite a while. Oh boy, it was all a deviation!

Coming out of the complex.
Finally, outside of a pond, we continued to new territory again. After going by a small shopping plaza, we passed Montserrat Station and its awful mini-high platforms, then it got residential along Essex Street. After a while of going past dense houses, we looped around a small apartment development...then it turned out that all that had been a deviation, too!

Inside the Cedar Street Apartments.
So we went all the way back up to Montserrat and turned onto Colon Street. This took us past the Beverly Council on Aging (for some reason we didn't deviate!) and a few industrial buildings, as well as a whole bunch of houses. There were some suburban businesses when we turned onto Cabot Street yet again, but it was only for a block to get over the Commuter Rail - once we had done that, we turned onto Rantoul Street.

This is, incidentally, our third time at this intersection.
This was a mix of suburban business and houses, and they continued as we turned onto Eliott Street, which had level crossings with both the Newburyport and Rockport Lines. Once that was done, we had a double-deviation: first, we went into the Cummings Center complex, which the MBTA 451 also does, funnily enough; after that, we headed across the street to deviate into a Stop & Shop.

About to head into the Cummings Center.
We returned to Eliott Street, going right alongside the Bass River, as well as some businesses and the Beverly School for the Deaf. After those places, it got residential - we were just sailing past a bunch of houses. Finally, we entered Danvers very briefly to serve a few businesses. Right after we crossed the border, it was a left on Bridge Street and we headed right back into Beverly.

Hi, Danvers! Bye, Danvers!
It was mostly residential along Bridge Street too, but there was the occasional business that came up. Finally, we went over the street's namesake: a bridge crossing the Bass River. It was pretty industrial on the other side, but there were some businesses and apartments when we made our way over to Rantoul Street via River Street and Federal Street. Finally, we turned onto Broadway, taking us back to Beverly Station where we had started.

The minibus continuing its never-ending loop.
Okay...here's the thing. At one point on the trip, the driver told me I should try taking the route's Saturday morning variation. He said it's really scenic and an awesome ride. I didn't think I would take him up it...except then I did. Well, why not?

Okay, wow, wasn't expecting that.
On Saturday mornings, the shuttle takes an almost completely different route, including three express sections and a bunch more deviations. Also...apparently it uses a full-sized bus????? This is because it doesn't go over the Bridge Street bridge on the Saturday variant, so a driver can take a proper bus if they want to. Not only was the bus on my Saturday a full-sized vehicle, but it was one of the CATA's newest ones, and it was really nice inside.

It's so weird being on a minibus route in...this.
The start of the Saturday route is similar to the weekday one. We made our way around to Cabot Street via Edwards Street, and this time we didn't do the unofficial City Hall deviation. Instead of going up to Garden City Towers, we went right onto Eliott Street. Again, we performed the double-deviation of Cummings Center and Stop & Shop, then we went out past the many houses of Eliott Street.

Inside the Cummings Center.
Here's where things got different: we turned onto County Way suddenly, which was a side street lined with houses. At the end of that, we turned onto Bridge Street, but in the direction of Danvers - were we looping around back to Eliott Street to avoid using the bridge? Well, we did turn onto Eliott again...but we took it further into Danvers. Alright, that's unexpected.

A field, I guess?
It continued to be mostly residential, but there was a proper farm on one side street, so we were leaving civilization to some degree. And then, out of nowhere, we whizzed onto Route 128. That's right, it was the first of three express sections, and it was weird. I mean, sure, my first-ever CATA review (and my first RTA review, no less), coincidentally of a different Yellow Line service, had a lengthy express section, but that was different. This is a deviatory loop-de-loop; that was a designated express service.

Of all the exits to take, we do the weird sideways one!
We were only on the highway for a bit, getting off at the next exit. This took us onto Trask Lane, a curvy road lined exclusively with random apartment developments. It became Manor Road, and we looped around at the last development on it, Apple Village. And from there, it was straight back up to the highway! Express section number 2!

Inside one of the developments.
Once again, it was just for one exit, and we got off at the next one, 20. This led us onto Dodge Street, which we used to deviate into a Shaw's (although there were plenty of other businesses in its plaza too). We went the other way down Dodge Street from there, going under the highway and arriving at an intersection with suburban businesses. Once we merged onto County Way, then McKay Street, we were back on the weekday route, except we were travelling down it the wrong way.

Another turn.
We turned onto Balch Street next, going by the north side of the Cummings Center, then we briefly headed down Cabot Street before turning onto Herrick Street. This took us past the Beverly High School, then we deviated into the Beverly Hospital - this was all stuff the weekday route does, too. We made our way over to Brimbal Ave and turned onto Essex Street, which was all previously charted territory.

Looking down Herrick Street.
We took Essex Street up to the Centerville Woods Complex, which the weekday route also serves. However, whereas on weekdays the buses go back down Essex Street, on Saturdays - and keep in mind, this is Saturday mornings only - there's another express section! That's right, we went back onto Route 128, although it was once again just one exit.

Going down the highway.
Of all the towns to have a bus route, we actually entered Wenham for a short stretch. It didn't last long, though - once we got off at Exit 17 and went down Hart Street, we were back in Beverly. This was a twisty street than ran through the woods past some pretty sparse houses.

Coming off of Route 128.
Around the time we went by a cemetery, the dwellings started to get closer together. We turned onto Hale Street where the pattern continued, and finally, we went by the beautiful village of Beverly Farms! We didn't go down its main drag, though, continuing down Hale and crossing the Commuter Rail tracks at, yes, Prides Crossing Station. Told you it had a bus connection!

Going over the tracks.
After the station it became woods and sparse houses again until we hit Endicott College. This part was awesome: there were college buildings everywhere, and we even came up to the water for a few short moments. It was a fantastic view!

Wowie!
Although we sadly curved inland, Endicott College buildings continued for a little while longer before we suddenly entered a residential neighborhood. Hale Street twisted its way past lots of dense houses which continued as we turned onto Corning Street. This took us to good ol' Montserrat Station, where we turned onto Essex Street, joining the weekday route again.

About to head onto Essex Street.
It wasn't for long, though - after deviating into the Cedar Street Apartments, the route would normally go back up Essex to Montserrat, but we actually continued the way we were going. It was entirely residential until the Beverly Public Library, where we turned onto Dane Street. This took us back to Cabot Street, and now we went up to Garden City Towers. It's so weird how on weekdays that's one of the first deviations while on Saturdays it's one of the last!

Coming out of Garden City.
It was the home stretch. We headed down Rantoul Street, passing a mix of businesses and dense houses. As we got further south, there started to be more retail in the mix, and everything was getting closer together. Finally, we turned onto Broadway and pulled up at the Commuter Rail station. Wow, I made this review way longer than it had to be!

It's still weird that you're a full-sized bus!
CATA Route: Yellow Line (City of Beverly Shuttle)

Ridership: The route is the fourth-busiest one on the CATA, except...wow, I've reviewed some CATA routes before but I don't think I ever realized how few people use this system. So yes, the fourth-busiest route on the whole system gets about 60 people per weekday and around 40 per Saturday. Ouch.

Pros: The best thing about this route is the fares. I mean, my gosh, the majority of this route's riders are seniors, and they only have to pay a quarter! I don't know who would get a monthly pass for this, but if you want to, they're only 8 bucks! So yes, the fares, those are very good. Also, the weekday schedule is hourly, which is fine.

Cons: Before I talk about the route itself, let me just run some numbers by you. This route has the lowest productivity on the CATA, with 6.1 passengers per weekday revenue hour (so per trip, basically, since this route has hourly headways) and 4.4 per Saturday revenue hour. Because of the incredibly low fares, the route has a subsidy of $26.06 per passenger on weekdays and $36.10 per passenger on Saturdays. GEEZ LOUISE, the City of Beverly had better give CATA bucket loads of money for making it keep the fares so low!

And now we get to the route itself. The crazy, insane, loopy route itself, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. How is a one-way loop expected to be useful and efficient for people to use? Why do there have to be so many crazy deviations? Why is the Saturday service completely different, and even more different for the first three trips? Why do the first three Saturday trips even bother to go out to Beverly Farms and Endicott College when from what I saw, those sections don't get a soul? Why is there an "early morning" weekday trip at 6:45 (that takes a completely different route, I might add), presumably for commuters, when the last trip from the station is at 3:52 PM? SIGH.

Nearby and Noteworthy: I would argue that this route doesn't serve much of note that's not already accessible from the Commuter Rail. I mean, with five stops in the town, it already has great coverage, and they serve the most interesting parts of the city.

Final Verdict: 3/10
This route sucks. As I've made clear, there are so many things about it that make absolutely no sense, and I think CATA is aware of this. They say in their Transit Plan, and I quote, "Cannot change service per contract with City of Beverly, but a split route with bidirectional service would better serve the city's needs." It's like they know what a better route would be, and they might even have a plan for what they want to do, and yet they can't do anything. They're contractually obligated to run this horrible, horrible service. CATA, I am so sorry.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Here's another T blog called Alex to a T, about a kid and his mom visiting all the stations on the subway in alphabetical order! It's well-written and interesting, and I recommend you give it a look.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Rockport

The final stop on the Rockport Line, and its namesake! What kind of epic terminal station does it have? Is it full of amazing amenities? No? Well, okay then...

The parking lot.
Rockport has a strange layout. The parking lot has 88 free (!) spaces, and it wraps around the small siding tracks for Commuter Rail trains. Plus, the whole station complex is in such a weird place, situated between a bunch of different shopping plazas.

Two trains squeezed into the station.
A narrow pedestrian walkway comes around the side of a Dunkin' Donuts into the station. On the way out there's a nice sign showing the various walking routes to downtown Rockport, but once we get to the platform, it just becomes...ew. It's a narrow and short affair with a flimsy shelter overhead and a single bench and wastebasket stuffed underneath amidst a sea of newspaper boxes. It leads up to a mini-high platform with one more bench, and though there's actually a short low-level section past the mini-high, there's nothing on it except for a bike rack. And yeah...that's about it for Rockport.

Up on the mini-high.
Station: Rockport

Ridership: Despite being the namesake of the line it's on, Rockport is only the third-busiest station on it. On the average weekday it gets 323 riders, although I'm sure ridership goes up quite a bit during the summer.

Pros: The station is accessible and the mini-high actually has a bench on it, which is a plus. There's a good amount of parking, considering that the surrounding area is so dense with homes. And speaking of the area, this station is in a great location, with downtown Rockport less than a fifteen-minute walk away.

Cons: I don't like how compact the whole thing is. The platform is just squeezed between the track and the parking lot, and the parking lot is squeezed around two more tracks for storage, and the whole complex is squeezed between random shopping plazas! I know Rockport is a dense historical town, but this station feels claustrophobic.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Rockport, obviously! It has a great downtown area with lots of historical buildings and small businesses, as well as a few small beaches. The train is a very convenient way to get up here.

Final Verdict: 6/10
It's fine, I guess. I mean, this is one of the better mini-high platforms on the Newburyport/Rockport Lines, which is sad to say. The whole place is cramped and haphazard, but it's more or less the only option given the surrounding area. All of Rockport's faults are explainable, but it doesn't make the station any better.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Manchester

I was gonna do the Beverly Farms/Prides Crossing combo during the morning rush one day in the summer, but nope - the conductor decided to just skip Beverly Farms, which is a flag stop, without asking anyone if they were getting off there. I ended up at Manchester instead with only a few minutes to do the fastest, worst review I've ever made of a station - I had to use a lot of Google Maps to help me with this one.

Hurry up hurry up hurry up!
Oh great, it's another station with degenerate mini-highs. They have nothing on them, and that's all I have to say. They're not falling apart, which I guess is a plus. This station apparently has 71 parking spaces - I think they might be in that decrepit-looking lot to the left in the picture above, but I could be wrong. Either way, it's free parking, so I guess the quality of the lot can be excused to some degree. There's also a bike rack on either platform.

Looking down the foggy platform.
Manchester actually has shelters on both of its platforms, which is great. In fact, the outbound side gets a larger one than the inbound side! It's wooden, and it's not in the best shape at this point, and it probably doesn't have to be there, but I guess it's nice. The inbound platform, meanwhile, gets a lot of unsheltered benches and a single glorified bus shelter with nothing under it. Aw...

Wait, uhhhh, EXCUSE ME?
Now, despite Manchester being between two level crossings, they do not go down when the train is stopped. Why's that? Because the train has to stop for them whenever it leaves the station. That's right, there are actually stop signs for each level crossing, and the train has to sit there and wait for them to go down. This just baffles me - is there seriously no way the level crossing can lower as the train is leaving so it doesn't have to stop?

Get outta here!
Station: Manchester

Ridership: Normal ridership at Manchester is average for the Rockport Line, with 307 inbound riders per weekday. However, in the summer, that number spikes up a lot with people going to the beach.

Pros: It's accessible, it has free parking, and it's in a very good location as we'll soon see. That's about all that's good about it, though.

Cons: I really must complain about the shelter situation. So the outbound side gets the big wooden shelter with benches under it, while all the inbound side gets is a little hut with nothing under it? Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Did I mention the station gets packed in the summer? Also, it goes without saying, but the mini-highs are barebones and negatively affect the waiting experience for passengers. Finally, the level crossing situation is awful, and I would be very surprised if modern gates don't have the ability to allow trains to go through without stopping. Perhaps a renovation is needed.

Nearby and Noteworthy: The station is located right in downtown Manchester, which in itself looks like a lovely place, but that's not why it's in a good location. No, Manchester's true ace in the hole is that it's about a ten-minute walk from Singing Beach. That is a huge draw for it in the warmer months!

Final Verdict: 5/10
Okay, okay, the station is really a 4, but I'll throw in an extra point because it's so close to the beach. Seriously, though, this is not the kind of place summer passengers should be forced to wait at, let alone commuter passengers! At least put a bench under the tiny inbound shelter! Or heck, how about renovating the mini-highs and giving them shelter and a bench? Geez Louise, and the level crossings...don't get me started.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
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