Right now, over fifty MBTA bus routes are facing possible extinction in the face of the pending “doomsday” cuts of service cuts and fare increases. A good chunk of these routes connect suburbs to subway stations and if eliminated would cut people, businesses, and attractions from the MBTA system. Being a current resident of Saugus (who stands to lose 3 of its 4 routes), I’ve decided that the first bus route to be reviewed will be one that’s at risk. Today, I’ll take a little ride on the 430.
The 430 connects Saugus Center to Malden Center mainly via local roads with some stretches on Routes 1 and 99. Along the way, it hits the Cliftondale Square neighborhood of Saugus, Square One Mall, and the Granada Highlands neighborhood of Malden. Though the route’s ridership north of Square One Mall can be a bit spotty, no doubt to doing a figure-8 through the heart of Saugus, ridership is more often than not strong even with a somewhat scant level of service. To understand what eliminating this route will mean, grab your CharlieCard and meet me at the rotary in Saugus Circle and let’s look at what will get lost.
- Saugus Center itself would lose all bus service as the only other route (the rush-hour only 428) that serves it is also facing elimination. The nearest bus route of any sort is the 426 1 ¼ miles east on Lincoln Street.
- Two stops into the route is the Saugus Iron Works historical site. Though the number of people using the 430 to get there is probably microscopic, cutting the route would cut some access to the site no matter how little it may be.
- With the pending elimination of the 429 to Northgate Shopping Center and Lynn, Square One Mall would lose all MBTA service. As with any shopping mall, a fair amount of mall workers and customers would be shut out with transit cuts especially in the former category with workers unable to reach their jobs.
- Besides Square One, other large businesses along the route such as the Stop & Shop near Square One and the Lowe’s right after the 1/99 split would also be effected.
The cuts don’t just stop at the Saugus line. The three routes that run alongside the 430 from Linden Square to Malden Center, the 106, 108 and 411, are also on the chopping block. Save for those near Malden Center and those near Cliftondale Square and Granada Highlands, all riders on this route would lose all MBTA service with no alternatives.
Think of all this and what may be seen as three anonymous numbers has a lot more worth then it may seem. Places like Saugus and similar town/route combos – Walpole and the 34E, Bedford with the 62 and 76, et. Al – should not take it on the chin and fade into transit oblivion. The 430 deserves its chance to shine.
Route: 430 (Saugus Center-Malden Center via Square One Mall) Rating (1-10): 6
Ridership: Between Saugus Center and Square One, light as the loops really extend travel time; the trip between two by car is around 5 minutes, the 430 is triple that. The route picks up steam past Square One heading into Malden and by the end of the route the bus had standees. One caveat: my ride was during the mid-morning after rush hour ended but before Square One opened.
Pros: It links a good sized mall and adjacent retail district and some residential areas with choice riders to the Orange Line. More routes like this should exist on the North Shore especially with the “Express to Haymarket weekdays, Wonderland weekends” mentality on the North Shore.
Cons: The loops through Saugus. The loop around the Iron Works sees very little use outside of rush hour and eliminating it would have not that much of an effect on ridership. Though with a bit more purpose, the diversion to Cliftondale does add a few minutes though there is some attempt to coordinate transfers between the 430 and the 426.
(Also) Nearby and Noteworthy: Kowloon. If you’re from Greater Boston, this place probably doesn’t need explanation. For those that aren’t, imagine a Chinese place that serves all sorts of Asian food, is a good remnant of tiki culture, and has a banquet hall/comedy club attached. If you can, try the Crab Rangoon and Saugus Wings. You can thank me (and my wife) later!