Groveland begins receiving hourly bus service from the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority for the first time today.
Bus Route 18, which begins in Washington Square in Haverhill, now proceeds over the Groveland Bridge, formally known as the Congressman William H. Bates Veterans Memorial Bridge, into Groveland’s Elm Square after leaving Rivers Edge Plaza. The bus travels left on Main Street/Route 113 to River Pines Drive, serving town offices, Council on Aging and Langley-Adams Library, and ends at the Groveland Housing Authority.
“We used to get so many complaints from people in Groveland who could see the Riverside bus across the river, but couldn’t access it. Now they can, and our drivers are reporting that there is already a buzz from some of Groveland’s more resilient residents, who had been walking across the bridge to reach Groveland from Riverside,” said MVRTA Communications Director Niorka Mendez.
While Groveland is one of 16 communities comprising the MVRTA, the town had previously been served only by the Ring and Ride van service, which requires advance reservations. With the extension of the #18 bus, people living, working or visiting Groveland have service every hour from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays. MVRTA bus rides have been free since March and the added service won’t cost the town either, since communities served both by a regional transit authority and the MBTA may deduct their bus charges from their MBTA assessment. In Groveland’s case, the MBTA assessment exceeds its MVRTA charges.
The Groveland extension came after Merrimack Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Jerrard Whitten and Groveland Town Administrator Rebecca Oldham discussed what it would take to bring fixed route bus service into Groveland. They followed up with MVRTA Administrator Noah Berger, who was already working with his team on making trips more direct.
“We are excited that the MVRTA has decided to extend Route 18 and provide a fixed route into Groveland. This connection will allow residents the ability to access Riverside Plaza, the health care services at Holy Family Hospital and much more. This route will provide equality of access to employment and services and help connect Groveland to other regional opportunities,” Oldham said.
Groveland already had the highest ridership of any town only receiving Ring and Ride service. The Transit Authority determined that not only did it make sense to cross the bridge from Riverside into Groveland, it do so within the existing schedule by making the #18 a more direct route, eliminating areas where the bus doubled back on itself or served areas where nobody was riding, such as Linwood Cemetery.
Berger said improvements to all Haverhill bus routes within the last month “better values our riders’ time.” Details on route changes may be found at mvrta.com.