Secor rd Commuter
Bee-Line operates a multitude of commuter buses, mostly in lower Weschester County, radiating out from Metro-North stations to serve areas around them. Hartsdale's Metro-North station has three routes, the 34 to Greenburgh, the 39 to Ardsley, and this, the 38 to Woodlands. The 38 is a very odd route on paper, serving the downtown of Hartsdale, and then deviating into a single suburban subdivision, also in Hartsdale, before running express to Woodlands. But, is it any good in practice?
My bus pulled into Hartsdale Station, and I boarded with only two other riders. We ended up leaving the station three minutes early. We pulled out of the station and headed up Hartsdale Av, running through Hartsdale's very small downtown. We then crossed Central Park Av, which was the last stint of urbanism we'd see.
My bus pulling into the station (I later found out that this is a brand-new bus, and is apparently very rare on the 38)
Crossing Central Park Av
We continued uphill on Hartsdale Av, passing mostly single family homes, with brief stints of forest in between. We then turned left onto Secor Road, beginning this route's independent section. Secor Road was a classic suburban road, with mostly single family homes as well.
A house along Hartsdale Av
Turning onto Secor Road
At this point, the driver called out and asked "anybody going to the right?" The only other person on the bus by this point was, so we got to do this route's weird deviation. We turned right onto Longfellow St, one of many narrow side streets we'd traverse. We then turned right on Keats Av and left on Spencer Ct, passing a high school.
Turning onto Longfellow St - are we allowed here?
We then turned left on Lytton Av, and continued past more suburban single family homes. We turned left again, this time on Poe St, and then the weirdest thing of all happened. The only other passenger got up, and asked the driver to pull up to his driveway. Surprisingly, the driver said yes! We pulled up to the back of his driveway, navigating around parked cars in the process.
Turning onto Lytton Av
The driveway we deviated up to.
After that driveway debacle, we ended the deviation by turning left on Keats Av and right on Longfellow St to get back to Secor Rd. Now, time for the express section. The route runs express from here to Woodlands, which seemingly makes no sense, because if the bus pulls up to someone's driveway, shouldn't it serve more than a single stop in Woodlands?
Turning onto Keats Av
Ending the deviation
Anyway, we crossed over the Sprain Brook Parkway and under some power lines, and then passed the huge Ferncliff Cemetery on our right. Instead of serving more of Woodlands, we continued expressing, and turned left onto Westway. The route ended at the corner of Westway and Northway (creative street names, I know), which is actually a block south of where Google Maps and Transit show the stop at.
Crossing over the Sprain Brook Parkway
The gates of Ferncliff Cemetery
The bus looks so out of place here.
Route: Bee-Line 38 (Secor Rd Commuter)
Ridership: I couldn't find any official ridership figures, however my bus had three people (including me) ride it, and according to the driver, most days, less than five people use the route total. So, pretty bad ridership.
Pros: It is the only transit service in Woodlands, and it times pretty well with trains. It also apparently pulls into your driveway if you ask nicely!
Cons: The deviation is really quite useless. While this trip did have someone use it, it added a lot of travel time, and that entire area is within a 7 or less minute walk from the stop on Secor Rd, or the 34 on Hartsdale Av. Instead, the resources would be better-used if the route served more of Woodlands, instead of just expressing through. However, this whole area is rather rural, and frankly, would be better served by microtransit. Bee-Line seems to agree with me, as their new redesign has Hartsdale and the surrounding areas as a microtransit zone. In addition to all the routing problems, the bus only runs 2 times a day in each direction, which is horrible, even for a commuter route like this is.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Does suburban hellscape count? Yeah, not the most interesting area...
Final Verdict: 4/10
This is a classic case of good concept, bad implementation. I love the idea of commuter buses feeding to train stations. But in almost all scenarios, commuter buses should operate as microtransit, as this means faster service and more coverage. In addition, microtransit is almost always more enviornmentally friendly! Hopefully, Bee-Line's interpretation of microtransit will operate smoothly, but until then, enjoy the weirdness of the 38!