Early in this Adventure, I reviewed the 1 and harped about its crosstown time-saving abilities even in the face of its being prone to chaos and bunching (and if you’re new here, I recommend going back and reading it). Now imagine if the 1 moved a couple miles east for most of its route and gained more chaos. Then you would have the 66, the 1’s wilder and we assume younger sister.
The first time I rode the 66 was on the advice of a friend who then was at grad school at BU after getting lunch in Brighton one day several years ago. Having been an out-of-towner who stuck to the familiar and who was ready to take the B back to Park to get the Red to Harvard, at the time I wouldn’t have known of it otherwise until she suggested it to me. I walk to the corner of Brighton & Harvard Avenues and wait for the 66 to come. Coming from Dudley, it had worked its way past an Orange Line connection at Roxbury Crossing and had a whole bevy of meetings with the Green Line: the 66 parallels the E from Museum of Fine Arts to Riverway and meets the D at Brookline Village, the C at Coolidge Corner, and the B just down the street at Brighton Ave.
When it arrives, it’s packed with a heavily college student crowd with a veritable melting pot filling the balance as the diverse population of Allston can attest to. By some miracle, I got the last seat and was able to take some notice of the rest of the route including Harvard’s athletic facilities and the BU Bridge even through the throng of people made noticing hard as with any route with college-heavy ridership. As with the 1, it stops right outside Harvard station for ease of routing purposes. Since then, there has been a common debate about if the 1 or the 66 is the more chaotic route. I decided to take little study to see if the 66 was actually the more chaotic one.
In about two hours camped at the Starbucks at Coolidge Corner on a weekday with school not in session, I noticed that the average 66 ranged from ¾ full minimum to being packed to the gills maximum without any missed runs or bunching. But watching buses while trying to pursue a better life isn’t the point of this blog. Therefore, I got on a mostly full 66, took a seat, and rode for a bit. A bit less young than years earlier but still busy. Harvard Street in Brookline is a slice of charming suburbia and is worth the trip on this portion of the 66. Eventually I get off at Brookline Village while the 66 eventually works its way back into Boston and onto Huntington Ave.
Route: 66 (Harvard-Dudley via Allston & Brookline)
Rating (1-10): 7
Ridership: Heavily on the young side when school is in session though not prone to being a party full of the male “bro crowd” (thanks @nikkif610) and/or the female “Uggs and yogas crowd” a la the B and E. You see a decent amount of people using this as an outer transfer between branches and lines too.
Pros: Similar as the 1. Invaluable route that connects many transfer points and can link together many outer points with a one-seat ride. As one of a few north-south routes to operate in Brookline, it is also invaluable for crosstown travel in that direction versus the more covered east-west corridors.
Cons: Ridership is heavy and when schools are in session packed buses often are the norm. If someone has the idea to get more CNG artics, this route with the 1 would both be prime candidates for them.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Hidden among Harvard’s athletic complex on the south bank of the Charles is Bright Hockey Center, home to Harvard’s pair of hockey teams. While it lacks the flashiness of BC’s Conte Forum or BU’s Agannis Arena or the 100+ years of history of Northeastern’s Matthews Arena, it has its own charms including very 70’s light fixtures and curved bench-style seats. If you sit up close, you can actually hear the puck go around the dasher boards.