Bus routes through the most affluent neighborhoods

Max Grinnell asks:

Policy wonk moment: which T bus route has the most affluent residents? Anybody know?



Some answers via Twitter

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If you have all day, you can

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If you have all day, you can go through the MBTA's passenger survey to see which routes had the greatest percentage of rider earning $100,000 or more per year:


There is a different PDF for each MBTA bus garage, and then each individual route has its own results page for mutiple questions.
For some of the bus routes mentioned survey says:
Route 439 Lynn-Nahant-27% of rider earn $100,000+ (but that's only 10 riders because the route carries so few people and doesn't run that often)
Route 449 Marblehead-Downtown Crossing express: 51% of riders earn $100,000+ (120 riders)
Route 72 Huron Ave.-Harvard : 42% of riders earn $100,000+ (163 riders)
Route 76 Hanscom-Alewife: 54% of riders earn $100,000+ (303 riders)
Route 505 Waltham-Downtown: 63% of riders earn $100,000+ (288 riders)

The now defunct Route 500 Riverside-Downtown Boston may have been the winner percentage wise at 84% earning over 100K (but that was only 64 riders). Maybe they should have kept that route going and just increased the fare to $10 a ride.

Nahant isn't exactly what I'd call upper-class.

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Nahant isn't exactly what I'd call upper-class. There are some fancy homes there but there's also a lot of more conservative houses too. The prices are generally cheaper than in Arlexmont. Main reason we didn't seriously look there is because the commute would be awful.

And Lynn in the same breath?

Nahant, not upper class?

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It may not reach as high as Lexington, but Nahant is no middle class town. And very few people from Lynn take that bus at all. (Very few people in general take that bus at all)
Please never use that term again. Yikes.

The 170 is basically a

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The 170 is basically a shuttle for office workers and cleaners working in the Waltham industrial parks. I don't think it really serves too many affluent people, though I could be wrong on that. My vote is for the 62/76, the 78 and the Newton express busses in the 500s. The 59 is also reasonably well-to-do, though it seems to be under-utilized.

I think that applies to a lot of routes

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that go through affluent areas where most people have cars. A lot of the people who use public transportation in those areas can't drive because they are elderly or disabled, or can't afford a car. Unless the bus connects a well-to-do neighborhood with a center of well-to-do jobs, it's probably mostly minimum wage service and domestic workers.

62/76, 51, 52, 59

62 and 76 serve Lexington. I group them together because they share some of their route, they're on the same schedule pamphlet, and they are combined on Saturdays.

51 wanders through South Brookline, running between Forest Hills and Cleveland Circle.

52 and 59 serve mostly Newton, though they extend short distances into neighboring communities (Watertown, Dedham, Needham).

441 and 442 serve Swampscott and Marblehead .. but also Lynn and Revere, so that may disqualify them.

Some of the Twitter answers are pretty silly. There's no way that 85 through Union Square in Somerville (passing through the auto junkyard district along the way) remotely qualifies.


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Up Belmont Hill and into Lexington.

62 cuts through portions of Arlington that are fairly affluent, too.


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...from Harvard Square to Mt. Auburn Cemetery via Huron Ave and Garden Street.

This is a more complex

This is a more complex question than I first thought-- my first thought was find an income map, then do an MBTA website search using the "Service Near This Location" app for the hotpoints. However, see this article about a Pew study showing that Boston is the most income integrated city in the US (and has a small geographic footprint, making for buses that run through many neighborhoods) for why this isn't so simple: http://bostinno.com/2012/08/10/boston-is-the-least....
However, keeping in mind that buses run between downtown (see UHub discussion yesterday re luxury housing DT) and the western burbs (see country clubs) and I'd guess that the boring answer would be one of those routes. But you've given me a great time waste project between clients today, and a chance to plug my favorite cartography nerd site, RadicalCartography http://www.radicalcartography.net/index.html?bigbo...

BTW, I'd have to agree that the #72 might qualify, although only if we include the residents of Mt. Auburn Cemetery, who do not use the bus often.


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Someone mash up a T map and a census income map!

I'd vote for the 55

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From Kenmore Square through the Back Bay, then over Beacon Hill. John Kerry would take this bus when he shops at Shaw's in the Pru.

Why ask?

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Maybe (probably) I'm just in a suspicious mood this morning, but why ask this particular question?

Because it is fun

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Also, because it gets us to know our area a bit more, and think about how things relate to each other.

I have to say that your question is classic Boston in that it involves fear of asking questions about a larger area than one's neighborhood and fear of using maps all in one neat package ...

Actual riders or just the neighborhoods they go through?

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Actual riders? Probably any of numerous routes in and around Brookline, Newton, Harvard/MIT area would have numerically the most riders and the largest number of socioeconomically well off folks, but they share their ride with just as many less socioeconomically well off. There are a numerous express buses from nice suburbs to downtown Boston that have their share of socioeconomically well off riders.

I take the #51 Cleveland Circle off and on, from both Reservoir and Forest Hills to West Roxbury. It goes through a very nice and expensive part of South Brookline/Chestnut Hill, past the Rt. 9 reservoir, Brookline Golf course/country club, Putterham Circle before hitting Hancock Village and the VFW Parkway. But the vast majority of riders get on in West Roxbury along Weld St, to Hancock Village and at Putterham Circle by temple Emeth. When it goes through the really nice area of South Brookline along Lee Street pass the golf course and reservoir very few get on or off.

At the opposite end from F.H. outbound it goes through the exact opposite kind of neighborhood up Washington St Roslindale pass the projects and so-on.

Actual riders vs. neighbs makes a huge difference

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Agree with anon about this. Mark votes for the #55, above. I take this one regularly in the winter (bike the rest of the year). Inbound trips are almost entirely West Fens residents; during morning rush hour it looks to be almost 75% students/young professionals and the rest elderly. Midday, almost exclusively elderly (for whom it is a lifeline for medical apptmts and shopping). Evening rush is more spread out and quite mixed. After 7, the route drops the downtown portion of the loop, substituting Copley Sq stop across from Copley Plaza for Park Street station as the outbound terminus.