641 (Westbrook/Clinton/Madison)

Oh god. This one’s gonna be a bit of a long entry because this one took two hours to ride from end to end. Back to Old Saybrook Station, we go! Well, if you look at that, this route’s gotta be high ridership (relative to the others) since this is the only route to use standard city buses. Baby-sized at 29ft, sure, but still city buses.

The bus!
The inside. Never saw seats on the front wheels before.

Taser and I boarded the bus, and first thing I noticed were the seats were considerably more comfy vs. RIPTA’s 40ft buses (exc. the Proterras).

DRIVER: “Ya headin’ to the outlets?” (referring to Westbrook Outlets)
TASER, to me: “where we heading?”
ME: “Nah, Madison.”

The prescribed scheduling of the route was about an hour and 20 minutes, which seemed about right with us riding it. Now, onto the ride itself.

Onwards!

The journey begins by going down Route 1 towards Stop & Shop. There’s a request-only deviation immediately towards the Old Saybrook senior center, but nobody requested it (it was just Taser and I after all, and noone called dispatch ahead of time). As we went into Stop & Shop, a few people got on the bus and would stick around. From here, we pulled out back onto Route 1, passing by some houses, a plaza with Ocean State Job Lot?!, and even the local high school. Neat. Eventually we’d enter Westbrook and turn towards the train station. However, no deviation. We DID, however, deviate into Westbrook Outlets, and holy crap it took a LONG time.

Towards Stop & Shop #1!
WAL*MART
Staples!
Wetlands galore!
Some more.
Houses.
Kitchen and bath designers
A restaurant
An apartment complex
Welcome to Westbrook???
And another house!
A local church, I’d presume
The packie!
Westbrook Station tucked away
Into the outlets!

Holy moly, did the deviation take FOREVER!!! About 2 and a half miles into an outlet center….that someone actually got on and off at. Worth it, I guess. Wait, why are we deviating WITHIN THE DEVIATION?! HOLY SHIT, DEVIATION INCEPTION! Yeah, we deviated into the medical center that’s within the deviation. Double deviations, that’s a new one for this site. What’s next, is there gonna be a CTtransit bus route that deviates within a deviation, that happens to be within another deviation? Anyways, noone got on or off, and we were back to Route 1 in about 5 to 10 minutes. This had to have been among the worst deviations I’ve experienced, worse than the Warwick Mall on RIPTA.

Oh god
THANK. GOD.

So anyways, we were still on Route 1, with people getting on and off as we went down the road. And, to be real, it was kinda scenic going down the road along the coast in Westbrook. And, fortunately, there were no de- OH FOR FUCKS’S SAKE! Well, guess A. we’re in Clinton now and B. we’re deviating into a ShopRite. This is, what, deviation #5 now?

sbubby
More fields, this one by a marina!
Scenic!
idek what this was
Marina.
Where’s the Dairy King?
A motel! Hopefully without roaches!
Ooh!
YUP. WE DEVIATED INTO THIS.

Ugh. And this deviation felt like it dragged on forever. But, it wasn’t the worst offender. Soon enough, we deviated into ANOTHER STOP & SHOP!!!! This one was WORSE because we were in the plaza for seemingly forever! Maybe it was because someone (whom will not be making any further appearances) started bothering me at 2am on an already largely sleepless night, rendering me unable to sleep. I also shouldn’t be surprised given the fact they always came complaining to me about a number of people between two Discord servers over even the slightest of nonissues. Anyways, I digress. The driver even had the balls to yell at someone “Learn to drive!” Like, DAMN. Once again, we were back on Route 1, going towards Clinton. From here, we turned, not to deviate into Clinton Station, but rather to Clinton Crossing. While it too was long, it wasn’t as bad as Westbrook Outlets. And no, noone got on or off here.

An intersection.
OH FOR FUCKS SAKE!
A gazebo in Clinton, near the train station
Oh yeah, another 9 Town bus!
Near the train station
HONK. I swear the M8s sound like geese when the horn is used.
Over the interstate!
*tries falling asleep*
There’s a Big Y nearby though!
MONEY LAUNDERING?!
WHY IS THERE AN OCEAN STATE JOB LOT OUTSIDE THE OCEAN STATE?!

From here, it was essentially a straight shot. And no, we didn’t deviate into Hammonasset Park. We eventually made it to Madison, and a couple of turns later, we were at the train station, our destination. Thank GOD.

A river!
Not a clam shack, but a clam castle.
No deviation for you!
Marshlands!
More marshlands!
Welcome to Madison!
Wow, this is nice.
What’s essentially the end of the line, with a development nearby.

The good: It serves a lot! And, clearly, given by the choice to use a 29ft bus rather than a cutaway van, it’s probably the most-used 9 Town route. Furthermore, it’s a decent-ish alternative for local travel between Old Saybrook and Madison’s stations, with the route running close enough to Westbrook and Clinton’s stations. It also happens to be scenic, as is the rest of the Shoreline region. There’s also Saturday service! However…

The bad: It goes crazy with the deviations! We’re talking more than RIPTA’s 16 or 21. Probably worse than the 63 even. However, it doesn’t have the drunk snake factor like it or the 112 on the MBTA. As with the rest of 9 Town Transit, frequency is dogshit, however at least there’s two buses on this route instead of just one. Now, out of all the deviations, I would’ve expected an attempt to deviate into Westbrook, Clinton, and Madison’s stations, but guess not. Ah well, this isn’t a commuter-oriented route, after all, though it would’ve been nice to see them try to cater to commuters in each town. However, for what it is, it does the job alright.

Nearby points of interest: Well, you got a lot of shopping plazas! Plus, you have Hammonasset Park, the town centers for Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Madison, and Clinton.

Overall, it could be better, but it’s decent enough as a start. For one, I’d axe a couple of deviations (or make them request-only), or in lieu of that increase frequency to hourly (minimum), or if the resources exist, why not half-hourly? Also, out of all the places to deviate to, I’d at least add the various SLE stations other than Old Saybrook to the schedule. However, that’d muddy things up further.

Rating: 6/10

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