In 2007, the MBTA added what they considered “Key Bus Routes” to the system map as a means to help increase ridership of routes that reach points rail lines do not. A few routes perform the functions of being crosstown connectors between multiple rail stations and the more prolific of these routes is the 1, the inner of the two routes running between Harvard and Dudley stations alongside the 66. From my own experiences, the 1 is one of my favorite routes seeing that it’s one of the ultimate shortcuts of the system.
The 1 is a thread that holds several neighborhoods together which run the gamut from the grit of Roxbury to the poshness of the Back Bay to the college hubs of Ken-Fen and Cambridgeport/Kendall Square and Harvard Square. Along its way, it passes sites ranging from Boston Medical Center to the front door of the MIT campus at 77 Mass Ave. As can be expected from a route that runs the geographic and socioeconomic gamut, the 1 makes these connections to MBTA rail lines:
- Red Line at both Harvard and Central
- Green Line (B/C/D branches) at Hynes Convention Center
- Green Line E branch at Symphony
- Orange Line at Massachusetts Avenue
- And the Silver Line – even though it’s a bus – at both Massachusetts Avenue and Dudley.
These connections make the 1 one of the most invaluable routes of the MBTA system for a variety of reasons since a ride on the 1 frees up capacity going through downtown for those connecting from further out points. For those with passes, the 1 can be used as a means to facilitate alternate connections and often is the best way to go based on time on some trips utilizing the outer Green Line branches. Quite possibly the most important and valuable aspects of the 1 is that being the closest-in radial route makes it the easiest way to skirt any rail disruptions from the downtown core especially on the Red and Green lines. Personally, back in a time when Trader Joe’s was a sometimes treat, the 1 was an easy bridge between Harvard and the location on Boylston Street.
Everything mentioned above make a route that runs pretty frequently with headways of no more than 15 minutes between buses at any time outside of early weekend mornings with buses coming as frequent as every 6 minutes during rush hour.
Line:1 (Harvard-Dudley via Mass Ave) Rating (1-10): 8
Ridership: As with any route that’s considered “Key” by the MBTA, two words can explain it. “Heavy” and “Varied”. The 1’s core ridership runs the gamut from hospital employees to university students to patrons of Symphony Hall to tourists – the map helps – to everything in-between. There also are a decent amount of people that use it to do the mentioned shortcuts. Having ridden from end to end I can say the number of people who do the whole thing is very low with most people riding for small distances.
Pros: It sews the T together and provides an invaluable connection between Cambridge, Ken-Fen, the Back Bay, and points south. That and it runs very, very often to the point that if you get one of those packed buses it might be good to wait it out. Its connection to Boston Medical Center also makes it one of the last routes to be shut down in the rare times buses are pulled during severe weather.
Cons: As with any route with a lot of buses and ridership, sometimes it can be prone to delays and bunching as I learned one day walking from Central nearly across the Charles (as a tourist) carrying my luggage with me because there was a huge gap between 1’s. 1 (Harvard-Dudley via Mass Ave) Granted I got awarded with a ride on one of the elusive 6000-series buses as a reward for waiting, but on the worst days…
Nearby and Noteworthy: No less than four colleges (Harvard, MIT, Berklee, Northeastern) have campuses along the 1 to start. In fact, if I was to mention a bunch of the things I would like to mention it’d leave me with nothing for future articles so I’ll just leave Mass Ave itself as an attraction as it cuts through a variety of surroundings on this route more than its outer sister or the more northern 86.