A: Northbridge Walmart - Shoppes at Blackstone Valley

September 20, 2021

It's good to be back writing on this blog. This time I'm taking a break from the RIPTA rants to rant about something closer to home. The WRTA with its shitty route planning. There's nowhere better to start than the A.

The A is one of two routes that the WRTA operates to serve Northbridge and Grafton, and service was started on the routes in late 2013. The A runs between the Northbridge Walmart and the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley in Millbury. A direct route between the two places is 8 miles, and this route is longer than 8 miles, but with good purpose.

Northbridge is a town that had zero public transit before this route started, and quite a bit of town is served with the route. The Walmart is located on the western edge, before continuing through the New Village (one of the two "hoods" in Northbridge), before reaching downtown. A deviation is made to serve the old Linwood Mill on the Uxbridge town line. The mill was refurbished to contain buisnesses and apartments, and even the headquarters of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

The bus heads back into downtown before heading east again to the Northbridge Senior Center and what the WRTA labels as "Tri-County Medical Center". This is an outpatient clinic for Milford Regional.

The bus serves Shaw's, the local supermarket chain, and heads north for Grafton. It stops by the Cumberland Farms in South Grafton, and heads off to Millbury from there.

That's the good part and the part I like. It gets worse.

Passengers in Northbridge and Grafton are free to wave the bus down anywhere along the route, while in Sutton and Millbury, it is closed door and no stops are made. This seems fine until you realize that the route runs right through downtown Millbury and passengers have to make a long connection to the 4 to reach downtown Millbury. Everything in Sutton is right near the town line, just request a stop near the line to reach it.

Also, this bus doesn't run on weekends. And it serves places people tend to visit on weekends.

Scheduling seems to be every 100 - 120 minutes between about 9 am and 4 pm. Not bad. The 12:30 pm trip from Walmart short-turns at Shaw's, and returns back to Walmart.

If you like pizza places, this is the route. There are 7 pizza places along the route (one is in downtown Millbury though).

Even though I live near this route, I've never ridden it before, but I'd assume it's a success if it's still going after all these years (even in a pandemic it wasn't cut). I have ate from all 7 pizza places though.


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