428 (Oaklandvale-Haymarket EXPRESS)

(Before I start: This review sat as a spare for months – the original ride was last December. Why trot it out now? Happy Birthday @BostonUrbEx who grew up near the 428 and challenged me for months to ride).

Living in Saugus and working in Burlington, my (wife and I’s) current commute involves lots of avoiding traffic on Route 128 by trying to get on as late into the route as possible. Our back way through Saugus and Wakefield involves driving past the 428 during its limited service, seeing buses of commuters varying in fullness heading to or from Haymarket.

The 428 is a variant of the 426 which runs three round trips a day heading inbound in the morning and outbound at night which runs alongside the 426 on Lynn St. Revere/Lincoln Ave. Saugus from roughly Lawrence Street in Revere to Winter Street in Saugus. In fact, years ago the 428’s runs were numbered 426 even though the two diverge pretty far from each other with the 428 ending at Wakefield High School contrary to the outbound terminal being still named “Oaklandvale” for the western Saugus neighborhood. To get the idea of this route, come along with me for the ride and brave the scads of high schoolers at Wakefield High.

Starting at Wakefield High with a terminal stop on the right side of the street, the 428 snakes through the school’s parking lot before heading down Farm Street. Though it gives parts of Wakefield an alternative to the Haverhill Line and 136/137 to Orange Line, there are only a couple of stops in Wakefield and often a bus running ahead of schedule will layover at the former Oaklandvale terminal right across the Wakefield/Saugus line. The scenery in this area is very not New England with erratic sidewalks but very wide shoulders which sort’ve fill the gap and still allow for stops to go in. Farm Street switches to Main Street and a bit into Saugus the surroundings turn more normal, the stops more regular, and the ridership more regular. From personal observations, by the time the 428 reaches Lynn Fells Parkway there can be a little as 10 riders to as much as 25 on any given day depending on run. Save for a couple of strip malls at that intersection, the 428 passes through solely residential areas.

After crossing Route 1, the 428 ends up taking Main Street to its end at the Saugus Center rotary where it then goes down Central Street for a brief period (paralleling the 430) until turning onto Winter Street where it passes by a cemetery and more houses until meeting Lincoln Ave. A little down the street from this was when I boarded. Last inbound run of the day, five people besides me already on. Nobody else boarded on the joint portion as the 428’s runs are smushed between a 426 and the inbound-only 426W runs. As opposed to said 426 which often has a full seated load and 426W which is usually ¾ full, the 428 in contrast was downright serene. Outside of Cliftondale Square and the Quarrystone apartments which straddle the Revere/Malden line, nobody else got on.

Right after the Quarrystone complex, the 428 does its second major diversion to serve the Granada Highlands complex in Malden which has four different stops shared with the 411 running to Malden Center and Wonderland. At these four stops, the 428 gained six other passengers while seven more passed it by. Though this may have been a byproduct of it being the last run of the day which is a close call for anyone needing to be at work by 9:00, it made me wonder about if the 428’s biggest problem may actually be its schedule. Coming out of Lawrence Street, the 428 rejoins the 426 for the rest of its route heading into Boston. The outbound route has some differences, namely the 428 staying on Route 1 until the Lynn Street exit and in turn not serving Linden Square as it does inbound.

The very limited service nature of the 428 means that it often is a target of service cuts and its limited daily ridership almost guarantees itself a place on any Doomsday cuts list though I think the route needs some TLC to help it improve greatly. Readjusting the times so most ridership isn’t funneled into one run would help a ton for a quick fix while another may be to refocus the routes. I propose three alternatives, both of which would break up the 428 as currently is.

  • Proposal 1: Extend the outbound terminal to Wakefield Station via North Ave/Nahant Rd. Take Route 1 from Main Street to Lynn Street, then serve Granada Highlands, then to current route. 2-3 426 runs a day could be detoured via Winter, Central, and Hamilton Streets to serve Saugus Center.
  • Proposal 2: The current 428 transitions terminates at Square One Mall and runs via Saugus Center. The Saugus-Wakefield service is turned into a new route running from Wakefield Station to Square One to Melrose to Malden Station with instant transfers during rush hour. This would allow for off-peak service on the Wakefield-Saugus portion.
  • Proposal 3: Proposal 1 sans Granada Highlands service with no stops between Haymarket and Square One.

Someday I’ll do a series on how to fix the mess of bus service in Saugus/Wakefield/Melrose. Someday.

Route: 428 (Oaklandvale-Haymarket EXPRESS)
Rating (1-10): 7

Ridership: Regular and dedicated, most of the time. Given the alternatives of an often arduous trip via the 430 or park-and-riding it from Wakefield or Melrose Highlands, this route has a core who don’t want to deal with higher MBCR fares, potential parking shortages at Wakefield, or a bizarre parking situation period in Melrose.

Pros: It’s the main transit link for most of north/western Saugus and it provides a one-seat ride to Boston otherwise unavailable. That and at least it isn’t like the 170 or the 434 which have “blink-and-you-miss-it” qualities.

Cons: Three round trips a day isn’t enough which might hinder ridership. Putting even a couple of midday runs and another rush hour round-trip would stimulate ridership a ton and this a route which is good enough to be turned into something great.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Suggesting anything along the 428-exclusive portion is going to be rough given that one would either need to find the 429/430 to get home or call a cab to Oak Grove. That said, the only J. Pace and Son outside of Boston is along the 428-only portion and comes with a small diner attached and soon a banquet hall in the back. Otherwise, Fatfingers inside a strip mall at Lynn Fells Parkway. That extension into Wakefield looks mighty good about now…

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4 thoughts on “428 (Oaklandvale-Haymarket EXPRESS)

  1. YES! THE 428!

    I’m confused by your “10-25” figure at the Lynn Fells Parkway? I never see the first run, and rarely the second run. But I know the last run (arrives in Boston at 8:55, way too close for 9-5’ers) barely has anyone on it. I definitely think the jog out around Winter St kills ridership with wasted time, and that should be replaced with a 426S or 427 (426 to Saugus Center). Combined with a midday run each direction, this could be perfect. The only question is, do you zip down Center St, Rt 1, or Sq One/Rt 1. Well, I think bypassing Saugus Center/Center St entirely loses way to much potential ridership, which Sq One does not add back. So without an extension to Wakefield Sq, you need to run down Center St. You make alot of great points/suggestions.

    I’m also very confused by the runs in the evening. The morning has runs staggered by 40 mins, but in the evening it is one stagger of 30 mins, then a 40 min stagger. Coupled with the first run leaving before it is even 5 (4:50)! They should change it to 5:00, 5:40, and 6:20, which would net a great deal of potential ridership.

    Also of note is that the Tobin Bridge repainting is screwing with the schedules. I see the last morning run (was arriving at 8:55) is now arriving at 9:02. I’m wondering if 100% electronic tolling will help, with the choke point on traffic being moved to the Leverett Loop Lane Drop, which is beyond the 428’s exit point from Rt 1.

    So, in conclusion, I’d suggest at a minimum (roughly):

    Inbound (Depart WHS – Arrive Haymarket)
    6:40 – 7:30
    7:20 – 8:20
    8:00 – 9:00
    1:20 – 2:00

    Outbound (Depart Haymarket – Arrive WHS)
    12:00 – 12:40
    5:00 – 6:00
    5:40 – 6:40
    6:20 – 7:10

    Running via Center St instead of Winter St, sans extension.

    • My estimates came via actually doing head counts passing in the other direction. Recently I rode a last run in local territory with a grand total of two other people riding.

      In the interim, it may be time to revisit running the 428 and perhaps some 426’s via the Sumner/Callahan tunnels a la what was done for a bit in the late 90s. Otherwise, all good ideas!

  2. The 428 DOES serve Linden Square in the afternoons. The driver that one time made an unauthorized diversion from the route. I know because I rode it several times from Haymarket (and yes, the 428, not the 426).

    • After all, if the 428 outbound went as your description (to the Lynn Street exit on route 1 before exiting route 1), it would have to make an illegal left turn to get to Granada Highlands, so it MUST serve Linden Square.

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