45: Belchertown Center / UMass

April 5, 2022

Last week, me and my family visited UMass Amherst. To get to UMass Amherst from my house in [nope], we had to travel through Belchertown. Belchertown has about 15,000 people, so it's not too small to see an RTA bus service, just look at some of the WRTA routes. Belchertown actually does see some service from the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) on their route 45.

The PVTA does not use a "flag down" system, where anyone can get on or off at any safe point along the route. The PVTA has actually placed signs marking the bus stops along the entire route of the 45. And they're actually really good signs, are visible, and contain the route number on them. Some of these stops are right in front of homes. I like this.

The route seems to be an important connection between UMass Amherst, Amherst's downtown (which has any other PVTA routes), and Belchertown, where the route ends downtown.

Schedule wise, I wasn't really expecting much. The route only runs Monday through Friday, and operates a reduced schedule during UMass's breaks. The only difference is the removal of the 2:30 trip from UMass, which is also the 3:10 trip from Belchertown Center. That reduced service schedule looks to be in operation for nearly half of the year (split around, of course).

Otherwise, seven round trips per day, going to Belchertown and then back to UMass. The PVTA also notes if a trip goes back to Belchertown after arriving at UMass, in which only one trip on the non-reduced schedule (the 7:37 am arrival) and two on the reduced schedule (7:37 am and 5:32 pm arrivals). All other trips return to the garage.

Frequency? Uhh... it's not consistent at all. Departure times from UMass are 6:30, 7:40, 12:25, 2:30, 4:20, 5:40, and 7:10. So anywhere between 70 minutes and 225 minutes (that's just the 7:40 to 12:25 wait though), more reasonably 70 to 110 minutes. Even worse with the 2:30 trip removed during breaks.

The routing must be slightly different in each direction, but the map doesn't allude to where this may be, as it takes 40 minutes to go to Belechertown, and 31 - 32 to return back to UMass.

I don't have much else to complain about this route. My only suggestions would be to clean the up the frequencies a bit, and add one or two mid-morning trips (as the four hour gap is annoying), as well as dump the reduced service schedule.