27: Union Station - Auburn Mall

June 2, 2022

In any transit agency, routes serve places where people would want to go and along major corridors in between. I've seen with that with the WRTA, with routes such as the 4, the 11, and the 15. Wait, those are all shopping plazas. The Worcester area has a plethora of these, and one of the main ones is the Auburn Mall, also served by the 29 and the 42 on their way to other destinations. The 27 is a route that operates directly between Union Station and the Auburn Mall, going via Webster Square.

The 27 runs alongside the 19 and the 33 between Union Station and Webster Square, serving Webster Square, Clark University, City Hall, and numerous businesses along Main Street. The route turns south towards Auburn and travels along Oxford Street and Auburn Street to reach the Auburn Mall. Most of this is residential, but there are some businesses near the mall in addition to Auburn High School, which the route runs right by.

Scheduling is not bad for the WRTA and reflects the important nature of the routing. The route connects a major business district in Worcester with one of the Worcester area's most popular shopping malls. On weekdays, the route runs with 30 - 35 minute headways between 5:45 am and 9:15 pm outbound and 6:20 am to 8:40 pm inbound. The mall's hours are 11 am to 8 pm Monday through Thursday and 10 am to 9 pm on Fridays, so these hours definitely allow employees to get to and from their shifts using public transportation, but one additional inbound trip can help on Fridays.

Saturday service is not bad and is very similar to weekday service, with 35 - 40 minute headways between 6:05 am and 5:10 pm outbound, with hourly service continuing until 8:15 pm. Inbound service starts with trips at 6:25 am and 7:05 am, continuing with 55 - 65 minute headways until 10:10 am, when 30 - 40 minute headways continue until 5:45 pm. Hourly service continues until 7:45 pm. Saturday hours at the mall are 10 am to 9 pm, the same as Fridays, so there is definitely an issue for those looking to take the bus at night from the mall. The first two trips in each direction on Saturdays short-turn at Webster Square. Sundays are as expected with the WRTA, with significantly less service. Outbound trips have 70 minute headways between 9 am and 4 pm, and between 8:45 am to 3:25 pm inbound. Mall hours on Sundays are between 12 noon and 6 pm, so this has the exact same issue that Fridays and Saturdays have.

Final thoughts - The 27 seems to be an important connector route in the network. Not only does it provide a frequent (to WRTA standards) connection from downtown to the Auburn Mall, it also connects passengers on the 29 and 42 to the Webster Square area without having to transfer at Union Station. The route's service hours allow mall employees to get to and from their workplace using public transit most of the time, barring Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Those weekend nights are where the 27 could use an upgrade to better coordinate the route's operating hours with the hours of the mall it serves.

A 27 in front of City Hall during the the Worcester trip.

Posted: Jun 3, 2022 01:01


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