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Route 21 - the inconsistent route

I removed this from one of the posts regarding the Halloween storm for two reasons; I didn't want to hijack the original thread, and I wanted to flesh out things more.

Route 21 is a good route for those who use the Orange and Red lines and don't want to loop through downtown. On the off-peak and the weekends, Route 21 does run consistently (albeit infrequently; on Saturdays it's every 40 minutes and Sundays it"s every hour).

Since the removal of the Casey Overpass and the rebuilding of the area into an at-grade traffic route in 2015, the Forest Hills area has experienced some gridlock, but the gridlock is worst during the morning and evening. Buses on the lower level of Forest Hills (16, 21, 31, 32 and 42) are beset with traffic jams, not helped in the least by traffic lights that are set to green for 30 seconds and to red for at least three minutes.

Route 21 serves the Brooke Charter School near Canterbury Street and the Boston International High School on Selden Street in Mattapan, so there is also a heavy influx of students that use Route 21. Most board at Forest Hills Station, but a good chunk also board at Morton Street and Blue Hill Avenue.

During the summer, the MBTA changed Route 21's schedule to a semi-consistent 15 minutes during rush hour. This worked out fine, as there were no school buses to contend with, and even if the bus left late, it was about one to two minutes.

Then came the September schedule changes and the beginning of the school year. Since then, Route 21 between 7am and 8am has experienced the following problems:

- The 7:05 almost never shows up, meaning the 7:20 is jammed with school kids.

- The 7:35 shows up 10 to 15 minutes late because it's originating as the Route 42 bus from Dudley; a lot of kids going to English High or other schools on Washington Street cram the bus and slow it down..

- The 7:50 and 8:05 are the only buses that are consistently on time.

What could be done to relieve all of the gridlock? Some ideas...

- Put Route 21 on the upper level, and allow it to make a right turn directly onto Arborway rather than have it at the mercy of fickle traffic lights.

- Restore the original 7:08, 7:18, 7:28 and 7:38 schedules. These schedules worked because they moved everyone much faster.

- Introduce a limited (or separate) route that operates with limited stops from 7:00am to 8:00am, and again from 2:00pm to 3:00pm, with three stops between Forest Hills and Gallivan Boulevard: Canterbury Street, Blue Hill Avenue and Selden Street.

- Introduce articulated buses for Route 21 to allow plenty of room for riders and standees - similar to Route 16, which is mainly for students coming and going from Harbor Point in South Boston and Uphams Corner in Dorchester.

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Comments

I discovered early on that it was quicker to take the 21 from Ashmont to Forest Hills than to take the Red Line from Shawmut and change at Downtown Crossing (a station I loathe) for the Orange Line to get my job in JP. Not that my experience with the bus is great. Sometimes it leaves a few minutes early, in which case I just mss it, and sometimes if the bus is running late they just skip a trip altogether. And they really do need the larger buses during peak times.

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I spent many a time at DTX transferring from the Red Line, and when it was crowded, it was crowded, especially when they had delays.

I've noticed that the Route 21 in the afternoon is nowhere near as bad, but there have been times where there have been bus bunching (as in waiting > 30 minutes and having four buses show up). It's nice to get a bus to myself all the way to Forest Hills :-)

Hopefully with the Better Bus Project, they'll improve the Route 21 and many other routes.

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I get hit with both groups on my way home from work. The group at Blue Hill and Morton Street is the one that really fills up the bus.
At least the AXE craze is over so it's easier to breathe. Seems like every generation falls for that sex appeal spiel. For my generation it was Hai Karate! You'll have to beat the girls off. hah.

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Back then, you had a choice...Hai Karate! or English Leather. But then again, there is always Old Spice which is really trying to reinvent itself from "so you smell like your grandfather"

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Oh sure, blame kids for the delay. Don't blame the failed JP/ROX study, or all the drivers causing congestion... Blame kids. Typical.

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I'm on the side of the kids here. They're actually a pretty quiet bunch (yeah, you get the occasional group of kids in the back acting up, but usually in good fun), but they're likely just as frustrated not getting to where they need to on time as the rest of the passengers.

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I'm so glad surface-level gridlock that makes buses slow and unreliable replaced a free-flowing overpass. Think of how much this knits the community back together!

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