Ooh, Mansfield! It’s oftentimes said that getting a video of the Acela here is a rite of passage for essentially New England-based railfan. Besides, have you really lived until you’ve seen the Acela at 150mph?
So getting off the station, one can immediately see where most of the parking is. It’s a large field of parking essentially, and it was full to the brim. There’s even a grass lot that, from what I’ve heard, some people get creative with and use as a makeshift parking lot. However, I didn’t notice. But parking here is $4 a day. If you’re driving here, be mindful where you park since the lots along Mansfield Ave. and Winthrop Ave. require a residence permit. The station building itself looks nice, however it’s only open during the morning rush. This also happens to be where all the station amenities are. At minimum, it’d be nice if it were open all day, even if just for ticket sales, as it looks to be a nice area to wait during inclement weather.
The platforms are also quite nice, being brand spankin’ new. However….it’s only low-level, with a mini-high for accessibility. For a station that was largely rebuilt during the last 4 years, that’s all they could’ve done? I mean for crying out loud, Kingston (RI) had a rebuild in 2016-2017, AND they were able to add a third track for futureproofing for a potential MBTA or Shore Line East extension, all while also installing full-length high platforms. But here? All you get is a stinkin’ mini-high.
Now, enough of me ranting. The mini-highs, while they feel a little jank, are nice. They’re all also on the Providence/Wickford end of the track. Meanwhile, you have relatively modern station signage, between the LCD signs that say “Welcome to Mansfield” and the train approaching warning, and the new MBTA countdown signs, which I think are in more recently renovated stations. I’m not sure on that, but I’ve mainly seen them here, in Sharon, Porter Square, Readville, and Back Bay. Not so much in Wickford or T.F. Green. Hell, I don’t even think Attleboro has them. At least you have a decent amount of benches and a wastebin on either side.
So, as I said earlier, to cross over you have to walk the sidewalk along Chauncy Street. This, normally, isn’t bad. However, there’s also the fact that the sidewalk isn’t very wide, and it can be a bit annoying in the height department if you’re tall like I am. But if you’re driving here, just remember to park on the correct side of the road, as there’s payment machines on both sides of the tracks.
Remember how I mentioned it’s a rite of passage for railfans to film here? That’s because the Acela goes 150 miles an hour here. Yup. One of the few spots where it can go max speed. Kingston is another popular spot, and I think it gets close at T.F. Green and Wickford (don’t quote me though).
You’ll also see a number of Regionals here, usually at max speed. Unfortunately though, you probably won’t see an express MBTA train, as their express sections typically end at Sharon.
The good: It’s a decent park & ride station! Sure, parking isn’t free like at Wickford, but this is actually somewhere where people are willing to pay to park. And besides, it’s up there in the busiest stations outside Boston proper. #3 to be precise (for daily boardings), if we exclude fare zone 1A. #s 1 and 2 are Salem and Providence, respectively.
Two major complaints. 1, why is there no GATRA? I mean, yeah the 14o technically serves the station, but as far as I can find it’s like the 140 only existed on a map and not in practice. GATRA website? Nope, no schedule despite being on the system map. Google? Nope. So, why does GATRA advertise a route that doesn’t exist? Hell, why is there a bus stop sign if no buses even use the damn thing?! What kind of drugs is GATRA on, for crying out loud?! You want a bus that serves Mansfield Station, how about…you know what, never mind. It’s GATRA we’re talking and they probably can’t do jack shit right. Oh yeah, when I went to the 140’s page for this review, it 404’d on me. Gee, thanks GATRA. Forget I ranted completely about the 140. While I still stand that the 140 shouldn’t be on the official system map on the schedules page (it 404s), there IS, however, GATRA GO. GATRA GO is basically Flex, but with the added benefit of being on-demand. Complaint #2, and this is waaaay less serious than the GATRA complaint (which, tbf, is on GATRA more than it is on the town of Mansfield or the T), is that the station building should be open in a minimal manner after the morning rush. Maybe just have a ticket person at the ticket desk? Or, for those who reverse commute, reopen the cafe in the evening rush?
Nearby points of interest: If you’re willing to walk a little, you have the town of Mansfield!
Transit connections: MBTA Commuter Rail (Providence/Stoughton Line), GATRA GO Connect
Overall, it’s not a terrible station. It’s quite nice, actually.
However, I have to give it a major strike for GATRA being on drugs with regards to what would be the only bus connection (once again, forget I ranted about GATRA, as I found out GATRA GO exists and is on-demand). It’s also a bummer that the station building is only open in the morning rush, but it’d be better if it were open (even if minimally) all day. It’s also nice how they rebuilt the otherwise decrepit station, though it still peeves me that it only has a mini-high platform.
Original rating: 7/10