Two years ago when I was still living in the suburbs of Washington DC, taking advantage of cheap airfare between Logan and Baltimore, I rode the entire subway/trolley end of the MBTA divided over two trips. The last portions I knocked down were the Ashmont branch of the Red Line and the Ashmont/Mattapan High Speed Line which I rode on a cold Saturday as a way to fill a few hours before meeting a friend for lunch near the Orange Line. I needed a way to get from Mattapan to the Orange Line as any true MBTA rider would merely be wasting time backtracking.
Four bus routes run between Mattapan and the Orange Line, all convinently numbered between 28 and 31. Being the transit riding fiend that I am, I naturally chose the most obscure of the routes: the 30 which runs between Mattapan and Forest Hills. I did this knowing well enough that the 30 runs every 50 minutes on weekends, in practice one bus shuttling back and forth along the route. In contrast, the “rival” 31 route runs every 13 minutes at the same time of day while the 28 to Ruggles runs every 10 minutes.
Getting to Mattapan, I had about ten minutes until the 30 was due to arrive. I go into the waiting area only to discover the heat wasn’t on which on a day where the temperature was in the teens wasn’t good at all. This wouldn’t be memorable if the 30 had delays earlier in the day which put the entire schedule off-kilter. The next 25 minutes was a parade of 28 and 31 buses coming and going and I started to question my decision to ride a un-rideable route until the 30 pulled into Mattapan. I also got an earful from a laying over 245 bus that just had to tell over and over again that it was bound for Quincy Center.
In contrast to the 28 and 31, the 30 route itself is quite tranquil serving a mainly residential slice of western Mattapan and northern Roslindale, the parts of Boston no typical tourist would think could exist within Boston city limits. It also may be the only MBTA bus route that gets to cut through a cemetery which when coupled with the High Speed Line creates a double play of cemetary-cutting. It also nicks the northern tip of the “downtown” of Roslindale Village with most trips also serving the Commuter Rail station of that name on the Needham Line which is conveniently along the way. The 30 keeps quiet and does its job and tries to not let delays get in its way: on the day I rode it made up 5 minutes of its delay thanks to light ridership.
Route: 30 (Mattapan-Forest Hills via Cummins Highway/Washington St). Rating (1-10): 4
Pros: Want a slice of Boston that most will never see? This is your route. That and it links Roslindale Village to the Red Line in a roundabout sort of way.
Cons: Unless you live on or near the route or work along it (and there isn’t that much outside of some light industrial and churches), there isn’t really a reason to take it unless you absolutely need to get from Roslindale to Mattapan. This is a route that screams “locals only” and seeing it’s the only bus service on Cummins Highway it’s somewhat rightfully so.
Ridership: Along my ride, there were no more than 10 people on the bus at any one time with most riders either heading home from Mattapan or heading into Forest Hills for other points. Some people were bound for Roslindale Village, I was the only one to ride the entire route.
Nearby and Noteworthy: This technically shouldn’t count because it a) opened after my ride and b) I haven’t been back, but Redd’s in Rozzie is on my list of reasons to head back as is Sugar Baking Company down the street in Roslindale Square. Yes, your blogger watches too much Phantom Gourmet!