39 (Forest Hills/Huntington Ave./Back Bay Station) – aka the Arborway bustitution

Oh boy, another MBTA bus route! And this time, it’s a decades-long bustitution! The Arborway used to be a part of the Green Line’s E branch. However, in late 1985, the MBTA decided to temporarily close the extension beyond its present terminus of Heath St. As of now, it’s still closed, and it’s more of a permanently temporary closure, rather than just simply “temporary”. In its place is the 39, which largely replaced it. So, with the MBTA lore out of the way, let’s dig into this route.

Ooh, a CNG bus!

So we left Forest Hills’ upper busway and proceeded down South and Centre Streets, passing the Arborway. Eventually it became lined with businesses and strip malls, as we kept getting passengers and, eventually, we turned down South Huntington Avenue.

See ya, Forest Hills!
The Arborway!
A side street!
A tennis court!
The local community center
Ah yes, the Woonsocket influence reaches out to here, too!
Looks kinda decrepit

The area was largely residential, and this extended to even as we passed a pretty sizable animal hospital and, eventually, the V.A. Medical Center. This would also mark where the E branch presently ends.

The animal hospital
Near the VA
The VA medical center!
Heath Street!
Near one of the Green Line stops

We then kept going down Huntington Avenue, passing all the construction happening on the Green Line. Houses and businesses largely lined the streets of Mission Hill. We’d also pass through the general area of various schools, including Emmanuel, Northeastern, and Wentworth. We’d also pass by the Conservatory of Music and Symphony Station. We then turned left down Belvidere Street (not part of the route?????) and onto Boylston Street, passing the Sheraton as well as Hynes CC. We’d also pass the Prudential Center and Copley’s Green Line station (which I think is why we detoured, as we are bustituting the E branch as of me riding this). We’d then turn right down Clarendon Street and, eventually, make our way into the backside of Back Bay Station into the busway (Front Bay?)

Stop & Shop in Mission Hill
Not very dense!
A ball field, for one of the nearby schools
Northeastern, I think
The Conservatory!
AAA approved?!
Turning right!
This looks weird
Some side streets in Back Bay
Your standard MBTA bus shelter
Copley Square!
The busway at BBY!

The good: It’s a very well utilized route! It’s definitely up there in ridership, I think, at least if my trip was to go by. It was definitely busy. It also serves as an alternative to the Green Line’s E branch (with slightly more capacity, should bendy buses be used!), should it be out of service (like today!) It’s also a decent connection between two subway stations as well as an Amtrak station.

The bad: …what? I got nothing here. I guess, the fact it isn’t 100% bendy bus? Yeah, I don’t know.

Nearby points of interest: A lot. You’ve got the many schools on Huntington Ave., Copley Square (& the associated shopping center), the Prudential Center, Back Bay Station, and the Arborway is next to Forest Hills. There’s also the various shops lining the streets of Mission Hill, too.

Overall, I like this route. It’s definitely a near-10/10. However, sometimes the capacity of the 40ft buses can raise some eyebrows, and as such it’s not a 10/10 for me.

Rating: 9/10

It’s not just a ride, it’s THE ride!

Author: chelsea

i own this site and write.

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