Bridgeport (Metro-North/GBT/Amtrak)

Oh boy. This one’s a biggie. So, we have an Amtrak station in the largest city in Connecticut, and it’s hardly used on that front. But on the Metro-North front, it’s very heavily used. So, let’s take a look. This one’s gonna be long.

The station sign
Damn, that screen can take quite the beating!

So, let’s start things off with the GBT bus terminal. It’s well-lit, modern, and has a direct (albeit long) on-foot connection to the southbound platform. Furthermore, all the berths are clearly labelled so no guesswork has to be done. Would be nice if they had schedule info here, though.

The entrance to the bus terminal from the train station
The waiting area. Yes, that’s a Dunkin’!
Get Carter!

From here, after burning my eyes out with the dots on the buses, I went back and into the station building. On the inbound side, you have the restrooms, an MTA Police booth, an MTA information booth (unstaffed), a Quik-Trak machine, a cafe, and access to the parking garage and Water Street. The station building itself is actually located directly above Water St., so that’s cool.

Stroad and a reflection
OH NO, DOTS!
Water St., from the station building
The waiting area

Access between the platforms is done via an underpass, which also provides more street access. Elevators are also found here, as well as solicitors.

The underpass
The other side
Woah
The outbound waiting room

On the other side, you have a much smaller waiting room, with another ticket machine and schedule info. Not much to say here aside from the views of the Pequonnock River (try saying that 5 times over quickly!) and the interstate. Now, the platforms. You’ve got a lot of benches here, and it’s all fully sheltered. Yay! Furthermore, it’s pretty good for railfanning as you have the sharp curve coming from Stratford to the north (it’s like that to avoid the hockey arena), and a significant amount of trains. I was here during rush hour and was taken aback at just the sheer amount of trains within a 10 minute span (at least 7-8!) You still have the view of the river, but with how things are you can’t get too many good shots of trains with the river. Street access to Water St. can also be had from here as well, by way of stairs.

See ya? Nah, not today.
High speed my shiny metal ass!
See ya!
Some more river and I-95 goodness
A southbound Regional stopping here
And an M8!
Two of them!
DIESEL IN DA HOUSE!!!
KING TUT, AGAIN?!
A tale of two power sources
This one ain’t stopping
More diesel!
And my ride home……nice.

The good: It’s got plenty of amenities! Restaurant on-site, ticket machines, the Quik-Trak, bathrooms, a fully sheltered platform, even direct sheltered access to the bus terminal! Furthermore, it’s an amazing station to foam at, with shots of the trains coming around the curve. Plus, the fact the inbound waiting area is above Water St. is a cool thing as well, along with the shots of the river and I-95.

The bad: Why isn’t there a layover track for Waterbury trains? That’s probably the worst thing about this station.

Nearby points of interest: Downtown Bridgeport and the hockey arena!

Transit connections: GBT (all), Amtrak (Northeast Regional), Metro-North (New Haven & Waterbury Lines), Coastal Link, intercity buses, Port Jefferson Ferry, prison (via MTA police)

Overall, it’s not a bad station. Probably among the best I’ve checked out so far. It’s like someone took the foamability of Canton Junction and gave it the amenities of Route 128 and the transit accessibility of Forest Hills, and threw it into Connecticut. This is, quite possibly, among my favorite stations.

Rating: 8.5/10

New Haven Union (Amtrak/CTrail/MNRR)

Here we are. We’re at the belly of the beast. We’ve done State Street, now to do THE station for New Haven. And now, an indepth look at Union Station. So, how unifying is Union Station?

That’s not the station!

Alrighty, so starting from the street, we have a view of the rail yard where pretty much everything conceivable (for the NEC, anyways) was laying over. Hartford Line trains with MBB coaches, GP40s, and P40DCs? Yep. Amfleets with a cab car, and an Amtrak P42DC? Why not! A Regional with an ACS64 boarding? Sure! And a bunch of M8s for the Shore Line East and the New Haven Line? Absolutely! And don’t forget the Acela! There’s also a large parking garage next to the station.

A bunch of M8s
The parking garage

Now, the station itself. Out front, you have a busway where the CTtransit buses board. I think this is also where Greyhound and other intercity buses board as well, but I’m not fully sure. Nevertheless, it’s quite nice, with two entrances (and another one on either side of the station!). So, with that out of the way, let’s go right into this beast of a station.

Union!
Here’s your damn Flixbus!
CTtran- OH NO THE DOTS!
They have COACH BUSES?!

Alrighty. So, upon entering, the departure board can be found, with a larger version blown up in the mezzanine. Speaking of which, the mezzanine is HUGE! You’ve got restrooms off to one side, stairs down to the platforms as well, and also an exit to the parking garage. The other side has brochures and access to (presumably employee?) parking. Further more, in the mezzanine itself, you have Amtrak and Metro-North ticket booths and a nonfunctional Quik-Trak machine. Yikes. There’s also a baggage check, a small convenience store, a Dunkin’, and Subway. Nice.

The departure board
The waiting area. Man, is it huge!
Brochures!
Baggage checks!
The shops in the lobby

Now, the lower area. The platforms are all connected underground by a cool-looking tube, with stairs and elevators going up, along with signs indicating what’s boarding at what platform. There’s also an Amtrak office down here, Sbarro, and another Dunkin? Huh, weird that there’s two Dunkins here. At least there’s no diesel fumes like in Back Bay. I’ll also add that the elevator between the waiting area and lower mezzanine is a bit hidden, being behind a corner and a set of stairs.

The tunnel
THERE’S TWO OF THEM?!
This feels hidden

And now, the platforms. There’s some seating, but you generally aren’t expected to wait here. There’s also, for whatever reason, vending machines on the platforms. Yeah, don’t ask. I’m not sure on the rationale either. But hey, unless someone stops you from being up here, it doesn’t seem like that awful a railfanning spot – aside from the lack of sheltering. Each platform also has electronic signage indicating departures.

NOW WE’RE TALKING! METRO-NORTH TERRITORY, YEAH BABY!
An M8 laying over on the passing track
A CTrail GP40
An Amtrak P42DC on the Hartford Line
A CTrail P40DC

And with that, I’m pretty sure that’s everything that this beast has to offer.

The good: It’s pretty well utilized! I mean, second to South Station, I’m pretty sure it’s the second most-used Amtrak station in New England. The fact Metro-North and CTrail exists here also helps. Plus, you also have intercity buses that stop here, and generally it’s easy to get around. There’s also plenty of parking, if you’re the kind to bring your vehicle here.

The bad: Unfortunately though, it’s relatively isolated from downtown New Haven. That and the relative seclusion for the elevator to the tunnel from the lobby, are my main gripes.

Nearby points of interest: Pretty much all of New Haven, and places accessible by CTtransit! Also IKEA.

Transit connections: Greyhound, Flixbus, Peter Pan, Acela, Northeast Regional, Vermonter, Valley Flyer, Hartford Line, Shore Line East, New Haven Line, CTtransit (265, 271, 272, 278, 950, Union Sta. shuttle)

Overall, it’s a great station. The fact that one of the elevators is relatively isolated is annoying, but it’s not as bad as the bad geography. Now, maybe historically, the area was much better, but nowadays it just feels very isolated from the rest of New Haven.

Rating: 9/10

Oops! All diesel!

New Haven (State St.) (Amtrak/CTrail/MNRR)

Oh boy. So, before we can delve into the belly of the beast, let’s check out the mouth, so to speak. Is State St. a dud, a slam dunk, or somewhere in between? Let’s look.

Oh right, we’re at a Hartford Line station!

So, I visited this station first despite getting off the Union Station Shuttle at, well, Union Station. It’s about half a mile up the tracks from Union as well, and located much closer to downtown. It’s also a few blocks away from the New Haven Green, CTtransit’s New Haven hub, though some local and express buses do stop here. The entryway looks nice enough, with a departure board being located outside the station. Several more are also located inside. Weirdly enough, the platforms for tracks 4 & 6 have a separate entrance than track 1’s platform.

Departures!
The bridge!

Near the stairs and elevators are vending machines for both CTrail (Hartford Line & Shore Line East) and Metro-North tickets. No bathrooms, however, are to be found here. On the platforms, one can find benches under canopies. Not much, but it gets the job done. As for ridership, most people generally are going to use Union Station rather than here, and as such it doesn’t exactly rank high for either Amtrak or Metro-North.

This feels like an urban hellscape
The tracks at platform level
And the other way towards Union Station!
The stairs to track 1
The track 1 platform

The good: It’s centrally located in downtown New Haven. Well, almost. Furthermore, you have a decent amount of local rail service, though most Amtrak trains just express right through without stopping. Which makes sense, since they all stop at Union Station, too.

The bad: Why couldn’t this station be Union?! Like, just why? And being in a major downtown, I would’ve expected at least a unisex bathroom or seats indoors. But again, it’s not too big a dealbreaker given the low ridership of the station. And why are there separate entrances for tracks 1 and 4/6?!

Nearby points of interest: Downtown New Haven, of course!

Transit connections: CTtransit (204, 206, 212, 223, 274, 278, 950), Shore Line East, Hartford Line, Northeast Regional (Springfield trains only), Valley Flyer, New Haven Line (Metro-North)

Overall, for what it is, it’s a decent station. It’s got a bit to be desired, but in general it isn’t bad. The biggest change I’d make, personally, though, is to put the stairs and elevator to track 1 on the same bridge as tracks 4/6.

Rating: 7.5/10

Rte. 128/University Park (Amtrak/MBTA)

Ooh, another Amtrak station! These are always a treat. So, we have a park & ride station (among the earliest in the country, built in the ’50s!) out in seemingly the middle of nowhere. Well, let’s look.

*seethes*

The station, getting off the platform, is very much modern. And, wouldn’t you believe it, it’s all high-level boarding! Nice! Immediately, we’re met by stairs and an escalator, behind which is the elevator to the bridge and MBTA waiting area. Yes, I’ve said it. There’s segregated areas for the MBTA and Amtrak. But, there’s also a good reason for this. Most people taking Amtrak from here are taking it southbound (you can’t even book a northbound ticket!), while most people using the Commuter Rail are heading northbound. Thoughtful design there, I shall say.

A car with its door stuck open. Yikes.
The tracks southbound
To track 2!
The tracks northbound and I-95
Pay for parking here

There’s also a giant parking garage attached. On the 2nd floor, one can find the MBTA waiting area along with a small shop. Meanwhile the 1st floor has the Quik-Trak machine, the Amtrak information desk, and a Dunkin’?! Bathrooms were also here. There are also destination boards with both Amtrak and MBTA trains. Meanwhile, the platform had both the modern MBTA-style countdown signs and the modern Amtrak signs, along with benches.

The bathrooms and information area
The Amtrak lobby
Oh crap, a delayed Regional!
Slightly less cursed
A tale of two signs
Oh, right. The Acela stops here.
Dunkin’?!
There should be a third track here.

The good: It’s a decent park & ride station! For what it is, it’s got pretty much everything one would reasonably ask for, between an indoor waiting area, a Dunkin’, bathrooms, high-level platforms, and a self-service kiosk for tickets.

The bad: Why, exactly, does the Acela stop HERE of all places?! Furthermore, why isn’t there a third track so that one track can be used as a passing track (e.g. for MBTA express trains) if necessary?

Nearby points of interest: Not much, save for the recently-built shops around University Park.

Transit connections: Commuter Rail (Providence/Stoughton Lines), Amtrak (Acela, N.E. Regional)

Overall, I like the station for how modern it is. However, the fact there isn’t a 3rd track where there could be one is probably hindering service during the morning and evening commutes. It’d also be nice if there was a bus shuttle from, say, the rest of Westwood or northern Canton to here. Though, that might cannibalize ridership to Islington or Canton Junction, if that happened.

Rating: 9.5/10

Mystic (Amtrak)

So, coming off the heels of RIPTA and a Miles meet in Boston, along with some MBTA shenanigans, let’s settle down in a more quiet, slightly more remote town. Ooh, why not Mystic?

Water tower and station signage!

Alrighty, so because this is the first station in Connecticut, I got nothing to compare it to, and as a result, I’ll be using Westerly as my point of reference primarily (for context, that got a 3.5/10). Is Mystic as bad as Westerly? Is there any saving grace? Or, am I going to be denied access to track 2 due to a southbound Regional or Acela at the wrong time?

Deboarding the Regional

So, getting off the Regional, immediately I notice the station doesn’t have level boarding, or even a mini-high, for that matter. Supposedly there’s a wheelchair lift, but I don’t buy that for one minute. The station building is a cafe that’s open 7 days, 8-2, and houses the Quik-Trak machine. I think it also has a restroom, but don’t quote me there. Wait, what’s that right ahead? Oh no…

Oh no.
Oh dear god please no.

What is that? No……not a grade crossing! THERE ARE ELEVEN OF THESE ALONG THE NORTHEAST CORRIDOR, ALL IN CONNECTICUT. THE ACELA RUNS DOWN THESE TRACKS. THESE ELEVEN GRADE CROSSINGS ARE WHY THE ACELA RUNS AT A FREAKIN’ SNAIL’S PACE OVER HERE. Never mind that, it’s a safety issue! What if a wheelchair gets caught on the tracks?! Well, apparently this is how you get to track 1 (northbound).

Parking!

There aren’t many parking spaces, but this station isn’t heavily used, either. Some spots are reserved for the cafe (which is, of course, a separate entity), but from what I’m aware, what’s pictured is all of the Amtrak parking. There’s a canopy from the cafe where southbound passengers can wait, should it be raining or snowing, while northbound passengers have what’s essentially a prefab shed that one can buy from Home Depot or Lowe’s. Also, why is the southbound platform much longer than the northbound one?

The station building
Looking northbound. Look at how long the southbound platform is!
And southbound, past the gates!
The shack
Oh, a glorified Regional.
The Quik-Trak machine inside the station building. And, look Taser, brochures! Admittedly, I didn’t notice them earlier.

The good: It’s a small town train station, and I like the feel of these! Plus, Mystic Seaport (and Old Mistick Village to the north) are both major tourist destinations in the area, so it’s good that the train station is close by. Furthermore, SEAT (the local transit agency) runs 6 days a week in the area with the Stonington HOP microtransit service. Review on that coming eventually.

The bad: Really? Only 3 trains a day in either direction stopping here? If I did this on a weekday, I wouldn’t have gotten home until 10pm rightabout. Furthermore, the low-level platform without a wheelchair lift in sight is a major “oh no”. If there is not, in fact, one, screw you if you need accessibility. They really couldn’t put a mini-high near the street? Thirdly, the grade crossing. That’s a “screw you” if you’re in a hurry, because you could very well run the risk of missing a train due to it coming down at the last minute.

Nearby points of interest: I spent the day in Mystic Seaport, and got a lunch at Mystic Pizza (thanks mom, for giving me $20 to do so!). If you utilize SEAT’s Stonington HOP, you can get to other places in Stonington like Mystic Aquarium, where you can connect to the 108 to Foxwoods and New London.

Transit connections: SEAT (Stonington HOP), Northeast Regional

Overall, I really like this station. I really do. Even in spite of its shortcomings, this is definitely a personal favorite of mine, and I feel like this is what Westerly should’ve been. However, I’d rather have seen a tunnel or bridge/ramp instead of hailing Mary across the tracks for getting to the other side. I’d also personally throw up a mini-high somewhere towards either end of the platforms.

Rating: 5.5/10 (but the train ride to/from is a 10/10 in scenery!)

BONUS: pictures from my journey that aren’t train-related!

Mystic Seaport!
Up goes the road!
A slice of heaven indeed. 10/10, would recommend.
Lunch!
Peeking into the ocean at the end of the Broadway extension
God, what’s with the CT section of the NEC being so darn scenic?!

Windsor Locks (Amtrak/Hartford Line)

Alrighty, looks like we’ve crossed the western border of Rhode Island. Did y’all know there was a train station in Windsor Locks near Bradley Airport? I sure as hell didn’t, until someone informed me earlier in the night. Let’s look at it.

That’s it.

Now, I’ve gotten this image from Google, as getting here is quite difficult, but it sums up the station pretty well. What you see, is what you get. No building, no Quik-Trak machine, and it isn’t even accessible. Well, I lied. Technically it’s accessible by ramp. But, there’s only a low-level platform, so maybe there’s also a wheelchair lift. But, by the looks of it, it’s clearly intended as a park & ride station. There are, however, plans to build a new station due north of here. But only time will tell if it’ll improve on the 69 (hehe, nice…) daily Amtrak passengers. Maybe more people use it for the Hartford Line, who knows.

The good: …not much, really. It’s a park & ride, I guess.

The bad: It’s literally far away from everything, has no amenities (save for a mini-shelter befitting of a bus stop), and the area surrounding it isn’t even walkable. It’s also not very accessible.

Nearby points of interest: …what?

Transit connections: CTRail (Hartford Line), Northeast Regional, Valley Flyer, Vermonter, CTTransit (24, 96, 905)

Overall, this station has little reason to exist. There’s not even a shuttle bus to Bradley Airport on weekends from here. Actually, there’s no bus service on weekends aside from an express between Hartford and Enfield.

Rating: 1/10

Back Bay (MBTA/Amtrak)

Oh lordy, I don’t even know where to start with this. For one, it’s my first non-RI post (proper, not the half-assed River Works post that I did without visiting!). Actually, the next five or so posts I do will all be from my trip to Boston (5/26/22), so strap in!

Helvetica Bold!
The exterior, from Wikipedia

Now, I can’t say much about the exterior as I wasn’t outside, however it’s definitely on the more “upscale” side, to fit with the rest of Back Bay. The station lobby matched. The train platforms, however….. Oh boy. So, getting off the train from T.F. Green Airport, it immediately hit me as to why this station has a bad reputation. The diesel fumes could be smelled all over the platform, and it was bad enough to where one would need a military-grade gas mask if they had breathing issues. I genuinely wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. So, booking it up the stairs so as to not inhale too many diesel fumes (which I completely disregarded later). I’ll also add as a tidbit, my girlfriend (the “Taser” I reference whenever there’s a Dollar Tree pic) could even smell the fumes in the mid-section of an Acela car at rush hour.

The train my girlfriend and I got off of

Fortunately, the lobby is much different. After going up a dingy staircase, the air was considerably cleaner. At least one could buy MBTA tickets here, along with Amtrak tickets due to a Quik-Trak machine being present. However, because of the aforementioned air quality issue, Amtrak doesn’t staff the station. As such, it also happens it’s the most used Amtrak station that’s unstaffed, to my awareness. It’s also up here that the bathrooms can be found. Just remember to flush the toilet, or you might be stabbed numerous times. The building itself feels a lot more “open” than down below, to say the least. There’s also a Dunkin’ and a CharlieCard vending machine here, as well as fare control for the Orange Line. Further back, by the Dunkin’ is where the stairs to tracks 5 and 7 are. This is where the Worcester-bound trains, being the Framingham/Worcester lines and the Lake Shore Limited all board.

The main lobby
The doors to tracks 1 and 3
The other area of the main lobby, by the CharlieCard machines
Oh no.
Oh dear god no.
Onwards to BOS!

And now, to address the elephant in the room: the island platform for tracks 5 and 7. Oh boy. Let’s just say this is easily the worst part of the station (as if the platforms for tracks 1-3 are bad enough!). So, one end we have a pair of tracks that don’t even run with the rest of the Southwest Corridor but rather run with the Mass Pike. On the other…..just take a look.

Oh dear god please no, NOT A TUNNEL WITH DIESEL LOCOMOTIVES!!!

Yup. There’s a long tunnel, I don’t know how long but it’s long enough to reach all the way past Hynes Convention Center at least. Is Lansdowne like this? I hope not, but I’ll find out when I review that station. It’s also very dark to where it feels like the lighting doesn’t do much, despite being bright. Like, could they have chosen any color other than black? Overall, while the smell of diesel fumes permeated through everything, the worst was yet to come. I notice the countdown clock, and oh god. There was a train scheduled to come in any minute now from Worcester.

QUIZ TIME!!!!!!

What did Taser and I decide to do, knowing there was an inbound train coming in?
A: Get the hell out, not wanting black lung
B: Film the train, knowing one/both of us could pass out from the diesel fumes being too much
C: Nothing.

If you chose option B, you win ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!

The countdown clock after the fact
Dear god
It’s so dirty!
This….doesn’t feel right.

So, we sat there and filmed the train (of course, it was an HSP engine), and I started feeling dizzy and we were like “yeah, let’s get outta here.” From there, we got up, exited via the stairs we came down on, and got our day passed on our CharlieCards. From here, we went to the Orange Line platform. Now, there was a train ready to depart so I couldn’t get a good look at it, but it was hella better than the Commuter Rail platforms!

Not the best photography job.

The good: It serves a major link between Boston and points south, as well as serving to the closest thing to the southern end of a North/South link, due to the Orange Line serving both here and BON (North Station). It’s also nice that Back Bay is relatively very walkable in nature.

The bad: However…..the fact that they tell people with breathing issues not to use this station, is problem enough. It was bad enough that I, someone WITHOUT known breathing issues, almost fainted from a lone HSP46 locomotive pulling in from Worcester. This enough is a major strike against an otherwise perfect station. If the MBTA electrified their Commuter Rail lines (or at least, used dual-mode locomotives that switch to diesel outside here), then the pollution wouldn’t be as big an issue. But, until then, don’t come here if you have respiratory issues.

Nearby points of interest: Back Bay, the neighborhood! You have Hynes, which hosts conventions like Anime Boston. Copley Place and the Prudential Center are also nearby, if you’re rich enough to afford anything from either. There’s also the Orange Line to points north and south from here, too.

Transit connections: MBTA (bus routes 39 & 10, Orange Line, Commuter Rail), Acela, N.E. Regional, Lake Shore Limited

Overall, if you forget the Commuter Rail platforms exist, Back Bay would quite truthfully be a 9 or 10. However, the fact that the air quality is bad enough to where Amtrak removed staff from here for health reasons is a big yikes. Yes, it’s improved, but the train platforms are in serious need of ventilation. And until either that happens or the Lake Shore Limited and the Commuter Rail get dual-mode locomotives, I can’t put this station too high up. The Orange Line platforms are leagues better, though. And yet, despite the major health risk, it still has over 15600 Orange Line passengers as of 2019, 8100 Commuter Rail passengers (being #3!), and just under 2000 Amtrak passengers a day in 2019.

Rating: 5/10

Westerly (Amtrak)

Well shoot, looks like I beat Miles (of Miles in Transit) to the punch with doing the least-used Amtrak station in Rhode Island. That’s right, I’m talking about Westerly. Let’s take a look.

There’s no escaping this one!

So, the station building itself is an art museum and, to my awareness, doesn’t house any facilities that would be valuable to the station. Need to use the bathroom? Good luck. Need to print out your ticket at a Quik-Trak machine? Not happening here. Is it raining? Tough luck. I’m sure you get the idea. Whatever amenities Kingston has, Westerly does not.

The Amtrak sign

Even getting down here to do this review was a bit of a chore. Of course, I was able to take the 95X RIPTA trip that departs Kennedy Plaza at quarter past 2. That was easy enough. The annoying part was having to plan ahead and buying an Amtrak ticket. Yes, it was also easy enough, but it’s still annoying to do given there’s not much of any way out of here. I’ll touch upon the 95X more in that route’s post.

Oh boy.

Now, bearing the fact that the station building is an art gallery, which is not open 7 days a week mind you, let’s look at the platform itself. There’s a handful of benches, mostly out in the open. There is, however, a small sheltered area on the far side of the platform, but from what I’m aware it only exists on the northbound side. Now, you might be asking “Well, how do I get over to the other side?! I can’t simply walk across the tracks!”, and that’s a good question. Access to the other side is provided by either stairs, or an elevator that’s out of service. Oh dear. The tunnel was nice and cool, and it happened to be the only area with cameras.

Down to the underground!
The tunnel!
And back up!
The building with the stairs on the southbound side

The good: It’s centrally (mostly) located in Westerly! There’s also some of everything nearby!

The bad: It’s not ADA compliant. Yeah, that’s a major one. I assume it’s temporary, but it’s still a major problem. There isn’t even a mini-high, and I wouldn’t trust the wheelchair lift with anything on it. There’s also pretty much no transit connections out here, making it even worse than Wickford Junction in this regard. At least THAT had regular service 7 days a week!

Nearby points of interest: Downtown Westerly! There’s also the local beaches if you take a 10-15 minute drive south. If you’re going by Amtrak or RIPTA, there’s Providence and Boston to the north, and Connecticut a stone throw away!

Transit connections: Amtrak (N.E. Regional), RIPTA (95X, 204 Flex)

Overall, Westerly could be a nice station. It’s got everything to be your typical historical old station, but yet it fails in some critical ways. For one, it’s not even ADA compliant. There’s not even a single mini-high to be seen here, AND the elevators don’t work! Yikes! That’s all in spite of the renovations that happened since Miles did his review! But, downtown Westerly is nearby if you’re visiting, so there’s that. And the fact people use this station shows there is demand for some kind of transit in Westerly, with ridership clocking 45379 people in 2019 (or, around 124 a day), making this the least-used train station (Amtrak or MBTA) in all of Rhode Island. The lack of transit connections (and transit in Westerly in general) is also a major blow to this otherwise quaint little station.

Rating: 3.5/10

A fun bonus: a Flex van coming up towards Railroad Ave.!

Kingston/URI (Amtrak)

Alright, second Amtrak station post! Now, as the title of this post will suggest, Kingston/URI is near, you guessed it, the University of Rhode Island, in Kingston (a village in South Kingstown). It’s not close enough to be walkable, though (as the crow flies, being about 1.7 miles, with it being 2 miles on foot/by car). So, if you have a bunch of luggage, just pony up the $2 for RIPTA or however much an Uber would be. Anyways, moving from there, let’s get into the facility itself.

TRAIN APPROACHING. PLEASE REMAIN BEHIND THE YELLOW SAFETY STRIP.

Now, as for the station itself, we have a side and island platform, serving the north and southbound Northeast Corridor tracks, along with a side track. Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with that since all the trains are either on track 1 (southbound) or track 2 (pictured above, northbound). Further up the platform, there’s a staircase and elevator leading up to a bridge for access to the island platform for tracks 1 and 3. And, it was quite clean for a somewhat relatively heavily used station.

Up to the bridge!

From the bridge, one can see the Northeast Corridor tracks largely obstruction-free. Heck, on days with less than desirable weather (like today), it could even serve as an okay vantage point for railfanning. However, as far as I can tell, I’m not sure if it has any cooling, so I wouldn’t suggest sticking around for too long on hot summer days.

The tracks facing southbound
Facing northbound

Now, the station building itself is historic in nature. Quite gorgeous, too, I might add. What does it have? Well, there’s an Amtrak agent to assist people. There’s also two (!!) waiting rooms, one with more comfy-looking seats than the other. There’s also two inclusive (or gender-neutral, whichever you prefer to call it) bathrooms, a bubbler (or water fountain, if you’re from literally anywhere other than RI/S.E. Massachusetts/Wisconsin), and some vending machines. There’s also a pull-in area for RIPTA buses. Plus there’s a lot of parking, and when I was here the lots were filled up quite a bit. The ridership data seems to back this up, with ridership clocking in at just under 175000 in 2019, or about 480 or so a day on average.

Kingston!
The Northeast Regional, the only line to stop here
The information signage and the Quik-Trak machine
The other waiting area

The good: It serves a major area. I mean, yes it’s rural, but there’s also freakin’ URI nearby! It’s also a nice, quaint station. For railfanning, it’s also a pretty popular spot as the Acela expresses through here at its max speed of 150 miles an hour. Brochures for the RIPTA buses in the region can also be found here (from what I found, the 14, 64, 66, and 69, even though the 14 doesn’t stop near here).

The bad: Why doesn’t the MBTA stop here? I know, it’s an Amtrak station, but that didn’t stop them with Providence. They even have track 3 accessible by platform for exactly the kind of stuff the MBTA would do here. While I’m at it, why does the Transit Master Plan call for URI, not here, to be a major transit hub? Furthermore, there IS demand for the T to stop here, given the fact people get off at Wickford going inbound. Hell, one could theoretically make a case for the Shore Line East to stop here too but it’s not as big a case as the MBTA.

Nearby points of interest: URI, and not much else. There’s also Providence via the 66 and Newport via the 64.

Transit connections: RIPTA (64, 66), Northeast Regional

Overall, it’s a nice station. Quaint, even. And, for the amount of people that regularly use the station, it fits the size perfectly. Hell, it’s a nice station even if you’re into railfanning. Aside from the lack of MBTA/SLE service, I got no complaints. Hell, the fact it’s accessible makes it better.
Rating: 8.5/10

Providence Station (MBTA/Amtrak)

The venerable Providence Station, the supplementary piece to Rhode Island’s transit core in downtown Providence. What do you hold for today’s post, Providence? Well, let’s dive into it.

Not the prettiest station out there

Well, for one it isn’t the prettiest station. It’s essentially a brutalist slab of concrete with train platforms underneath. But hey, a good station doesn’t need to look pretty inherently. Anyways, I digress. This place has two entrances, a north and south entrance. The north entrance is facing the State House and is serviced by RIPTA bus routes 50, 55, 56, and 57, while the less exciting-looking south side is at the end of Exchange Street. This side is serviced by the R Line, 3, 4, 51, 54, 58, 66, and 72. Meanwhile, there’s platforms for tracks 1, 2, 3, and 5 down under with services from Amtrak’s Northeast Regional and Acela as well as the MBTA Commuter Rail. However, that isn’t the only sight you can see from the platform as sometimes you might see a Providence & Worcester train passing through on track 7. As for parking, it’s there. I don’t know if it’s paid though or not, as I didn’t bother checking. (It probably isn’t)

The platforms from Park Row West
Whelp, it looks like a staircase to a dingy underworld, but it’s just how you access the parking on foot.

Alright, time for the station itself. It can get a bit crowded during peak hours in the morning and afternoon, and it can also get REALLY busy if there’s a convention either in Providence or Boston (e.g. Anime Boston, PAX, or ComiCon). There’s an in-house restaurant, Cafe La France, which is quite nice. I heard the food and drinks are nice too, albeit a little on the pricey side, but I’m still going to have to try it some time and edit as necessary. This is also where you would buy your MBTA Commuter Rail tickets. So, if you arrive without a ticket (or the mTicket app), buy it here so you don’t incur an avoidable $3 fee. There’s also an Amtrak QuikTrak machine to buy tickets or print out e-tickets. Furthermore, there’s also the Amtrak information kiosk that usually has at least one person staffed, if you need any further help. Lastly, baggage checks can be done here, and is found next to the vending machines. There’s also a small gift shop, Oakwells. Just don’t get any water or stuff like that here as it’s going to be overpriced. From here, accessing the platforms when the boarding call is made is easy enough, as there’s entrances on both sides as well as elevators in the event you need accessibility. Speaking of which, all of the platforms are also full highs (rather than the mini-highs that the MBTA loves retrofitting old stations with).

Baggage, vending, and some marketing materials pertaining to RI
Oakwells Gifts and Newsstand
At least it’s lit, unlike the parking garage staircase.

And with that, I’ve reviewed every MBTA station outside of Massachusetts……..for now. (stay tuned – Pawtucket/Central Falls post coming later this year!)

The good: It packs everything one would need in a small space while still being a major transit hub for Rhode Island.

The bad: It’s a little (1/4 mile) out of the way from Kennedy Plaza. If the Dorrance St. Transit Center becomes reality, then it’s more out of the way (over half a mile!) and the argument can be made for incorporating it into the Downcity Loop. Also, the fact the northbound bus routes only get a lousy stop that’s not even advertised well, is a definite “yikes”. Hell, it’s hardly even advertised! It can also get quite crowded during rush hour…

Nearby points of interest: Providence Place Mall, for sure. If you need any snacks/quick drinks, there’s a CVS here. There’s also Kennedy Plaza and bus connections to Oakland Beach, URI, Pawtucket, Roger Williams Park, and Twin River Casino. There’s also rail connections to Boston and other areas served by the Providence/Stoughton Line as well as to Connecticut and points south via the Acela and Northeast Regional.

Overall, it’s not a bad station. It’s got some shortcomings but those are inherent with pretty much any train station. Ridership here is pretty much as you expect: The most used station in RI, and the highest ridership stop on the Commuter Rail outside of the MA-128 ring. My only real complaint has to do with the fact it isn’t at Kennedy Plaza directly, although there’s not much one can do about that without interfering with the Northeast Corridor. Lastly, why isn’t this part of the Downcity Loop? It just feels weird that none of the express routes stop here whatsoever. Yeah it’s part of the Downtown Transit Corridor, which I guess is alright, but it just feels weird that the expresses don’t touch here.

Transit connections: RIPTA (R Line, 3, 4, 50, 51, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 66, 72), Amtrak (Acela, N.E. Regional), MBTA (Providence/Stoughton Line)
Rating: 7/10

Whelp, time to plan a trip for Westerly and Kingston/URI.