643 (New London/Old Saybrook/CT Rte. 156/US Rte. 1)

Oh boy, a new RTA! I can’t wait to see how painful this turns out to be! Well, let’s look at 9 Town Transit’s route 643. Yeah, there aren’t gonna be many 9 Town entries since, well, they only have 6 routes total, one of which I already covered due to its seasonal nature.

The cutaway van

Anyways, remember the cutaway van picture from the Old Saybrook entry? Yeah, we’re riding that. So, the driver yells “Get on, whadda y’all waiting for?” as we’re at the dinky bus station, and we’re off to the races. Leaving the train station, we take a right down Route 1 to make our first deviation: Stop & Shop. Fortunately, this one is shared by the 641 and 642 as well. And yes, a few people got on. Despite the overall low ridership for the system (remember, this IS rural Connecticut), the bus was half full. From here, we pulled back out onto Rte. 1 and went over the Northeast Corridor, and going right to remain on Rte. 1. Then, holy crap, we’re express on the interstate! But, it wasn’t for long, as we got off at exit 70.

Onwards!
Deviation #1
Someone transferred from this cutaway van.
Northeast Corridor!
Into the woods
Express time!
Hehe, nice
Crossing the Connecticut River
And back on local streets!

Alrighty, moving along, it was mostly woodlands from here out, save for a deviation into Big Y. We proceeded down Route 156, which was kinda scenic in some areas. However, we also did pass through the main population center of Old Lyme. As we pressed on, people actually got on and off, much to my surprise. And, I’m not sure why, but there’s something relaxing about riding a bus (40ft city or a cutaway van) through what’s essentially the middle of nowhere. We also passed through some marshlands. We then continued down 4 Mile River Road, and took a right down Route 1 again. Now, there’s a request-only deviation here to the Old Lyme Senior Center, but we didn’t go that way since noone requested it. Nevertheless, we pressed on and eventually reached a shopping area in East Lyme. One right turn and a left later, and holy crap we’re express again!

Big Y?!
A small river
A historic-looking building
A whole lotta woodlands
We ain’t going back to OSB!
Scenic!
Very scenic!
This feels like HOAland
A side street to the ocean
Blurvision 3000
The Northeast Corridor again
Some more side streets
No express quite yet!
green
More HOAland
A small driveway
Even more blur
Fancy!
Sorry Taser, but it ain’t a Dollar Tree.
An abandoned golf range
A park & ride before going express

So, we went express all the way down the interstate now. No, we didn’t cross the Thames. However, we were dumped into the streets of New London from here, where we went down Washington and State Streets, turning left onto Water Street at New London’s bus station.

Onwards!
idk what this is
Express through Waterford
Off the freeway!
Downtown New London!
Welcome to Union Station!

The good: It’s a link between Old Saybrook (and the other 9 Town routes!) to New London. It’s also pretty well-utilized, if the ridership of my trip was to go by. It also serves a number of rural communities. It’s also free through the end of November. Thanks, governor Lamont!

The bad: The scheduling is a bit lackluster. Now, maybe it’s manpower or funding, but 2 hours for a bus is…no, just no. Unfortunately, this is gonna be a common theme with 9 Town, and most rural transit authorities. It’s also weekday-only. They also don’t give this thing enough time, despite the fact it’s every 2 hours.

Nearby points of interest: New London and the connections to SEAT! There’s also the Stop & Shop and Big Y. But, being rural, there’s not much otherwise.

Overall, it’s a good route on paper, but the major killer is probably the scheduling and lack of resources. And, unfortunately, that’s also going to be a common theme among the rural transit authorities in not just Connecticut, but Massachusetts too. But, I have to give 9 Town credit for trying, at least.

Rating: 5/10

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