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.