Webster, Dudley, Southbridge Shuttle

June 3, 2022

Back in March, I wrote about the 8, which is a crosstown route along Park Ave in Worcester. I forgot to actually define a crosstown route. All I did was mention that the 8 intersected a bunch of routes. A crosstown bus route is a bus route that connects multiple different routes or multiple sections of a network without passing through a central hub. That's what I'd call a crosstown in a hub-based system. (I defined that with GATRA's 11.)

So, does that make the WRTA's newest bus route, the Webster, Dudley, Southbridge Shuttle, a crosstown? This route started operating in August 2020 and runs through the three towns the route is named after. The eastern end of the route is in Webster, at some form of medical facility near the Connecticut state line. The route continues into the center of Webster where passengers can transfer to the 42, serving Oxford, Auburn, and Worcester. The route runs through Dudley along routes 197 and 131, the main roads across town. Oddly enough, the route does not deviate to serve the nearby Nichols College, instead choosing to serve the courthouse. The route passes through the village of Quinebaug, in Thompson, Connecticut, but the shuttle is closed door through this small section. I assume this is due to the state line and Thompson not providing any funding to the route. This is a nice village center located very close to the state line, so I guess passengers can get on and off at the state line and walk. The route terminates in downtown Southbridge, where transfer is available to the 29 to Worcester via select locations in Auburn and Charlton. Techincally this is a crosstown connecting the 29 and 42, but it's a serious stretch as the entire route is well outside of Worcester. This may be the furthest route from Union Station operated by the WRTA.

Ok, so how does the schedule look if this is technically a crosstown? It's really similar to the WRTA's other shuttles, the A and the B in Northbridge and Grafton, which run on weekdays only. This shuttle runs between 5:10 am and 4:50 pm eastbound and between 6:10 am and 5:50 pm westbound. The route operates with headways of 45 - 70 minutes. Yeah, that's not consistent at all, but there are 12 trips in each direction. It takes about 55 minutes to travel from end to end.

A couple of weeks before the service began operation, the WRTA put out a press release about the new service. This new service was made possible by MassDOT’s Workforce Transportation Grant Program. Funding through this grant will allow the WRTA to initiate, maintain, strengthen, and expand service to the workforce population. WRTA Administrator Dennis Lipka said, “We are excited to have the opportunity to expand service to multiple businesses and destinations. It is important to give our riders access to as many destinations as possible. This new service will give riders access to a variety of potential job opportunities, educational opportunities, hospitals, and other amenities they might not normally be able to visit regularly. Riders will also have a direct connection to Worcester and the surrounding communities via WRTA Routes 29 and 42.” (WRTA)

Final thoughts - That makes three new routes the WRTA added since it's lastest map update in 2017 (the others being the 8 and the 12). It's nice that the WRTA is actively expanding the network, especially outside of the city, in towns like Webster, Dudley, and Southbridge. There should probably be a deviation to Nichols College, though, as it's not too far from the current route and can attract a number of riders.

Posted: Jun 3, 2022 21:46


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