WGBH News Focus: The MBTA

Highlights from Yelp Reviews of Lesser-Used Bus Lines

By Danielle Dreilinger

Comments

May 11, 2012

70 bus

Any ordinary bus ride can turn extraordinary ... or frustrating. Just ask the riders. (Aria1561/Wikimedia)

 
BOSTON — We shouldn't be surprised: In a world where no sandwich shop is safe, of course there are Yelp reviews of MBTA stops and routes. Indeed, there's an entire Public Transportation category. Read in a batch, these reviews describe people's daily lives with an eye for detail a novelist would envy. 

They're such good reading we're splitting them into multiple posts. First, reviews of bus routes you may not know so well, including the 70, 85 and ... 194? 

 

Notes
- By "lesser-used" routes, we mean not the 1, 39, 66, 77, e.g.
- Some of these reviews are several years old; presumably the Yelper has since moved.

 

Bus Route 70: Happy hour

(7 reviews, 2 stars)
 
Anouska B., Boston: You know when you're the drunk girl on a bus through suburban middle America eating Triskets out if your coat pocket. Yeah, that's me. (4 stars)
 
— The author of this post is 98 percent sure this Yelper was her next-door neighbor back when she lived on the 83 and 87.


Bus Route 73: You'll meet some important people

(12 reviews, 2.5 stars)
 
Brian N., Philadelphia: Through a year of commuting from Belmont, I have discovered the secret to avoiding the madness that is the Bus 73 during rush hour. What's that, you ask?

Don't take the bus during rush hour. (3 stars)
 
Chris L., Rochester, N.Y.: 1:00am - I look, with frustration, at the man sitting next to me. He returns a similar look. We become friends. His name is Raymond. I don't think he's drunk.

"I'm Raymond. Good to meet you. I'm so damn tired. All I wanna do is go home and take these wet shoes off. I've been out on the water all day."

1:05am - My friend Raymond, who may or may not be drunk, tells me he knows very important people in Belmont and Watertown. I mention that the roads in Belmont are horrible and I live in Watertown right now, but I'm thinking about moving.

"It's too bad I'm so tired. Any other day, I'd make a phone call and have that road fixed for ya. Tomorrow. You know the New York Diner? Go talk to the owner and tell him Raymond sent you. He'll have you living and eating for free. As long as you do good, you'll be treated good. I know some important people." (1 star)
 
Courtney C., Somerville: Beware the "young dude." He wears a chain wallet and is usually sipping what looks like [a] smoothie made from the souls of his passengers, and wreaks of cigarettes (not that cigarettes are a universally offensive scent, I just want you to know it's him). He looks like he might be 21 or so. His methods of stopping and starting are more nausea-inducing than your grandmother's. (1 star)


Bus Route 85: Empty but for the smog

(3 reviews, 3.5 stars)
 
Robin J., JP: There is never anybody on this bus. It's not that the bus doesn't go anywhere important, because it does. It starts at Kendall, goes through Union Square, and ends up on a small residential street in a nice little neighborhood between there and Davis Square. I bet the people who live on this street aren't too fond of the 85 bus, because once it gets to the end of its route it sits at the end of the street blocking traffic and chug-chug-chugging its smog until it starts back up again.

I used to take this bus to work a few days a week, and half the time I was the only rider. Totally, totally creepy. Also totally, totally wasteful. (3 stars)
 
— Yours truly used to live on that very street and loved the 85 because it stopped, well, right there.


Bus Route 88: Like being in France

(4 reviews, 3.5 stars)
 
Mandy, MA: In the wise words of Ja Rule and Ashanti "Baby! I'm not always there when you call But I'm always on time."

Such is my experience with my beloved 88 bus. It's not always there when I want it to be (i.e. when it is raining, freezing, when I overslept and am late for work,etc..) but it *is* relatively on time and dependable, a veritable miracle considering it's part of the MBTA. 

This bus will take you from "the Paris of Somerville," Davis Square to the "Galleries Lafayette of Somerville," The Cambridgeside Galleria.

You get to ride it with a variety of interesting folk: school kids, senior citizens, brutally handsome urban hipsters, angry corporate patsys, and a man who can mumble the whole screenplay of Robocop to you if you sit next to him! and me! (4 stars)
 
Jeremy F., Brighton: I had a guy talk to me from the middle of Highland to Lechmere about how you need to be gentle with a woman, it's what separates us from the animals. Then he told me if i got a bike and worked out I could look like spiderman. "Don't you want that, your arms and back lookin like spiderman?" (3 stars)


 Bus Route 194: The bus that doesn't exist

(2 reviews, 4.5 stars)
 
Matthew M., Boston: There's no published schedule for the 194, so you won't find it on the MBTA's website. But it shows on http://nextbus.com, and if you hop on the first inbound run of the 89 or the 93, the automatic system will announce that you're on route 194.

The 194 is the first inbound run of the 89 and the 93, which goes from Clarendon Hill to Sullivan Station to Haymarket (where you can catch a host of other early morning buses, like special routes of the 39 and 57 that start at Haymarket). The bus came precisely on schedule at Powderhouse Circle (a minute after 4:33) and was exactly on schedule at Sullivan (4:47) and Haymarket (4:57).

I'm one for one with this bus. Four stars for precision.
 



Part 2 of this series: Porter Square, Courthouse and other subway stations you know and (possibly) love.



WGBH NEWS FOCUS: THE MBTA

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About WGBH News Focus: The MBTA

Love it, like it or lump it, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority touches nearly everyone's lives in eastern Mass. And it's in financial crisis, with newly announced fare hikes not enough to cover next year's projected $100 million budget deficit. WGBH News features special focus coverage of the tracks and troubles of our public transit system.

About the Author
Danielle Dreilinger Danielle Dreilinger
Danielle Dreilinger is an author and news producer for WGBH.org.



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