Pawtucket/Central Falls (MBTA/RIPTA)

Wait, there’s ANOTHER MBTA opening?! Well shit, let’s look at it at the crack of dawn! I mean, if I can do the GLX where pretty much all the cards were stacked against me, I can pretty much do anything. Besides, it’s been pretty much exactly 42 years since an MBTA train last stopped here. So, let’s look at it, shall we?

Signage!

So, I Ubered up to the area at around 3 AM with a 3:30 arrival. It was downpouring, so being able to take refuge under the overpass was a godsend. Speaking of which, the entire station was well lit, I almost mistook it for a sporting arena for a moment! Parking? 200 whole spaces! Add that to not one but TWO dropoff areas and a busway, and you have a decent enough bus terminal. But they had to screw up with two things: There’s no heating AND there’s no bathrooms or indoor area! Like, dammit RIDOT, why did you have to shaft RIPTA like that?! Also, engineered out bathrooms?! WHO DOES THAT?! Did I mention bus connections?! You get 10 of them. TEN! ALL the Pawtucket-area routes stop here!

That’s a LOT of lighting!
Looking southbound with a very enthusiastic Miles
And the other way
People from Keolis were giving out swag, including buttons, luggage tags, and umbrellas
Redundant elevators, in normal MBTA fashion
The mezzanine

Alrighty, so the Commuter Rail section of the station itself is pretty decent. Full level boarding, Helvetica signage, an updated system map (with the South Coast extension, woohoo!), and redundant elevators that didn’t smell like urine but probably do now. There’s also departure boards, something lacking at T.F. Green and Wickford. Art is present in the form of a yarn ball, which represents the area’s historical ties to the textile industry. And, lastly, although the station has three tracks, the third track is just a freight siding that never sees passenger use, so the platform setup is more akin to New London’s in that you have a side and island, but the island is essentially just another side platform with one side blocked off.

The ball
The skeleton of the old station looms ahead…
And looking towards Providence and Wickford!
First train!

From here, we had a small gathering, mainly consisting of a few people including Dylan, Miles (stay tuned for the video on this station!), Daria, Jordan (who had to head back up to Boston shortly after returning), Zoe, and a few others whose names slip past my exhausted mind (I barely got sleep and am running on a 2hr power nap right now!), and we proceeded onwards. Initially, the plan was we’d get off at Attleboro, but instead we shifted to Mansfield. So, we took #800 out to Mansfield, got off, waited in the miserable weather, and got on #801 back to Pawtucket. By the time we got back, and we heard the “train approaching” warning going off (which, at the time, were not in the most functional of states), we saw an Acela coming through to which we gave some fanfare for being the first Amtrak train to express through. After all this, several of us left and it boiled down to six of us, including Miles, Dylan, and I, and we got breakfast at the Modern Diner, and after which everyone aside from Miles and Dylan left. Here’s that video, by the way!

Empty comet car
See ya!
Mansfield feels like the nighttime version of the first level of Tony Hawk’s Underground
MMMMMM, DIESEL!
First Amtrak of the day!
See ya! – and Channel 10!
South Coast extension!

The good: It’s right near the downtown of two MAJOR, and very populated cities! There hasn’t been revenue service around here since the ’80s when the old station was pretty much abandoned by the MBTA, and RIDOT finally replaced it – 17 years after building a rail yard nearby for Keolis. And, for what it’s worth, it’s decent but it’s got one MAJOR flaw that prevents it from being more than an above average station. Plus, you have all of RIPTA’s Pawtucket-area routes, and weekend service on the MBTA too! It’s hella more than Wickford! And, if this was my first impression of Rhode Island, after living in Boston or wherever else, I’d say this place would make a pretty good first impression. You also have a small commuter lot, 200 spaces, for what it’s worth.

The bad: Remember when I said there’s one major flaw? Yeah, it’s the bathrooms and lack of an indoor waiting area. Sure, the shelters could be rectified with heating, and if I remember someone from RIPTA said they’d be looking into installing heaters, but the fact RIDOT valued out bathrooms and indoor waiting areas is HORRIBLE. What were they thinking?! And it’s a major terminal for buses, too!
(POST EDIT: Apparently even the Commuter Rail part got value engineered to hell! There were plans for two additional tracks so that Amtrak trains can express, but RIDOT really said “nope!” Stuff like this is probably why the Providence Line is neutered, and that’s not considering the lack of electrified tracks in Attleboro, Warwick, and North Kingstown!)

Nearby points of interest: You’ve got Slater Mill and the various local-owned shops of Pawtucket and Central Falls! Hasbro HQ isn’t too far, either. If you’re like Miles and Jackson and enjoy diners, you’ve also got the Modern Diner, which has a streamlined design (apparently the last of its kind?!), and even that aside they have pretty decent food. Just don’t play around near the Wyatt Detention Center. A ticket machine for RIPTA and the Commuter Rail would be nice too.

Overall, it’s a very, VERY good station for what it is. Yes, it’s majorly lacking and the bathrooms are just porta-toilets (which, I don’t count), but for what it does have, it’s a pretty good station with a mix of foamer potential, bus service, WEEKEND SERVICE (*cough unlike Wickford*), and decent geography near two major town centers. And, for that, I still think it’s worthy of a high rating, but not a 9 or 10.

Rating: 7.5/10

And below are some foamer shots I got over the course of the morning!

Freight!
Same train, but the ass!
The dignitary train!
Oh, hi!
And leaving. Oh look, foamers.
And another one!
A Regional crests the bend
The ribboncutting ceremony!
Well that’s a freakin’ lie!
And another one!
TWO OF THEM?!
Overhead Acela!
Another P&W!
The ass of that train
Overhead Regional!
Bye!

Chinatown (Orange Line)

So, we go from the end of the line to the middle of downtown Boston. Let’s look at Chinatown, shall we?

Shiny!

So, the platform is a little dark, but the signage is also shiny weirdly. But, hey, I’ll take it. Fare control is a little small as well, and there’s stairs and elevators up to Washington and Essex Streets. Yeah, not a lot to talk about with the mezzanine, but it’s your standard affair. The headhouses are also alright, with patterned fencing things. However, there’s one major issue: no free crossovers. Yeah, that’s a yikes. But hey, it’s likely you’ll encounter tourists here along with the SL4 and SL5 at street level! Except there’s no shelter or anything. Oh well! Apparently there’s also a pair of abandoned entrances, but I didn’t seem to find them on street level.

OH NO, DOTS!
A little blurry, eh?
Stairs!
A headhouse!

The good: Well, it’s in a tourist destination (Chinatown), although relative to others it’s not that big a place. But, still, Boston’s Chinatown is still a place worth checking out if you have the time.

The bad: No free crossovers?! WHY?! Also, the lackluster Silver Line stop. I couldn’t even tell at a quick glance due to the lack of signage or shelters!

Nearby points of interest: Well, you’ve got Chinatown! Alternatively, Boston Common is a stone’s throw away as is Boylston, along with a few theaters.

Transit connections: Orange Line, SL4, SL5, MBTA bus (11, 15)

Overall, it’s not the best of stations. Yeah, I’m not sure what it is with downtown stations just overall being grade A trash seemingly, but this fits the bill. Hopefully that changes when I check out the transfer stations and Tufts Medical later down the road. Just maybe…

Rating: 4/10

The gate!

Orient Heights (Blue Line)

Ah, Orient Heights. Yeah, this one wasn’t too terribly exciting either. But, it’s got something the other stations lack! Let’s look.

Helvetica!

Of course, you have two platforms, with fare control lining the fencing on either side. It’s nothing much, but it gets the job done. And, hey, at least there’s a crossover within fare control! Neat…..except there’s a FENCE running down the bridge halfway! WHY?! At least, there’s a busway on the Bowdoin-bound side. And, hey, for foamers it’s nice since you have the Blue Line yard and you’re also in walking distance to the beach, if airplanes are your thing.

See ya!
From the overpass!
Taser walking down the stairs!
Fare control!
THE YARD…
History!

The good: Well, it’s in the middle of a residential neighborhood, has a busway with a countdown clock, and (somehow missing it) a surprising amount of parking. Yeah, this is technically a park & ride!

The bad: The emergency exits. Taser almost went through one in attempt to find the crossover, for crying out loud! I mean, yeah, it’s not big, but it shouldn’t be that easy for an idiot to try going through the emergency exit!

Nearby points of interest: You have Orient Heights Beach! Yeah, I don’t know a lot about the area.

Transit connections: Blue Line, MBTA bus (120, 712, 713)

Overall, it’s an alright station for what it is. Sure, it doesn’t have the glitz and glamor of Assembly or the ugly concrete hellscapeness of Oak Grove (wink wink), but it still stands out- wait, are those solar panels on the roof? Yeah, I’m not sure but look at satellite imagery makes it seem so.

Rating: 7.5/10

Cleveland Circle & Reservoir (Green Line)

Ah, Cleveland Circle and Reservoir. They’re like two twins that absolutely CANNOT be separated under any circumstances. Let’s look at them.

Helvetica!

First, Cleveland Circle. It’s pretty generic with not a lot to note. Benches exist, as do wastebins and, supposedly, a CharlieCard validator (but c’mon, who’s validating their fare???) Yeah, not a lot to note about this one. It’s got an on-foot transfer to Reservoir, though, by virtue of the two essentially being one and the same.

Unofficial parking!
Two Type 8/7 combos!
Benches, shelter, wastebins
Track connections to Reservoir. Look both ways!

Alrighty, now to Reservoir. Reservoir’s a little more exciting. For one, you have fully sheltered platforms with benches. Supposedly, the inbound platform (towards Union Square) is also heated, but I didn’t try it out. There’s also a third platform which, I think, is used for short-turns and in the event the line past here is bustituted. I’m not sure though, so if anyone’s better-versed on this, please tell me if I’m right or not. Both stations also have a bus connection to the 51 to Forest Hills and the 86 to Sullivan and Union Squares, with Reservoir having the busway. Neat! Lastly, why the HELL is there a wheelchair lift if level boarding is a thing with the Type 8s and 9s?! I mean, I’m sure there’s a reason, but what reasonable operator’s gonna want to get out and crank a wheelchair lift all of 3 inches off the ground?!

See ya!
Reservoir’s Helvetica!
The tunnel towards Riverside
The Reservoir yard!
I think this train was part of a nonrevenue equipment move.
The maintenance facility!
“Screw you and your wheelchair lift!”
– Taser, probably

The good: Well, they’re a decent transfer together, though you’ll have to let the operator know and, if they’re nice enough, will let you tap a transfer without paying on your CharlieCard. However, be prepared to pay twice. It’s also an alright foaming spot for the Green Line, as you have the Reservoir yard right there. Cleveland Circle also has the amenities one would expect, with a sheltered area and wastebins.

The bad: Cleveland Circle is kinda generic. Not a lot to note. Reservoir also feels kinda generic otherwise, but at least has the busway. Plus, there’s the fact equipment moves from the C branch have to use the street-running tracks on Chestnut Hill Avenue poses a danger to people, moreso if they’re unaware of their surroundings.

Nearby points of interest: You’ve got Boston College, as well as a few playgrounds and the namesake Chestnut Hill Reservoir!

Transit connections: Green Line (D at Reservoir, C at Cleveland Circle), MBTA bus (51, 86 at Reservoir)

Overall, they’re alright, but like, there’s just not a lot to them. I hate to say it, but there’s not a lot in the way of memorable stuff or any charm like Coolidge Corner. And, yes, since they’re essentially one station that operates as two in practice, I’m counting it as two for the purpose of scoring.

Rating:
6/10 for Reservoir
5/10 for Cleveland Circle

Coolidge Corner (Green Line)

I did not know much about Coolidge Corner going into this entry, aside from that it seemed like a cool place. OH BOY, would this place pretty much change my opinion of Brookline from “meh, ’tis only suburbia” to “HOLY CRAP this is a decent place!” Now, let’s get into it.

Helvetica!

Coolidge Corner, at the end of the day, is a street stop at the intersection of Beacon and Harvard Streets in Brookline. However, it does have a bit going for it vs. most other street stops. For one, you have a sizable old town-style shelters, with matching signage. Neat! Further along, you also have a singular bus connection, the 66 to Harvard or Nubian and…..FLIXBUS?! Yeah, I didn’t see any Flixbus buses, but I guess there’s an intercity bus connection.

Here’s your damn Flixbus!

Of course, I have a thing for historic European old town aesthetics, to which Coolidge Corner seems to fit quite well. Obviously, there’s better places, but this seems to be the best to my awareness before crossing into “tourist trap” territory. It’s also walkable! Like, GOD, the S.S. Pierce Building really adds to the vibes this area gives off!

The Green Line shelter
The S.S. Pierce Building and a train
See ya!
A nonrevenue equipment move and the building

The good: It’s just got that historic old town energy going for it! Like, GOD, do I love it! It’s also quite wide and spacious for a street stop, with its staggered stop placement on either side of an S bend through Harvard Street. Also, the 66 and Flixbus stops here. There’s also plenty in the way of shopping.

The bad: No shelters for the 66 and Flixbus! Yeah, it’s minor, but there’s not a lot to complain about here.

Nearby points of interest: Mostly shopping. Taser was with me and dug around Brookline Books for at least 40 minutes. There’s also the S.S. Pierce building.

Transit connections: Green Line (C), MBTA bus (66), Flixbus

Overall, I really like this station and it’s objectively probably best in class. Riding the rest of the C branch had nothing special for most other stations, same is true for the E branch, while the B branch just looks like a nightmare on Street View. I also just like the vibes the neighborhood gives off in general.

Rating: 10/10. Yeah, this one gets an ace.

The Boston skyline looms ahead…

Lechmere (Green Line)

Alrighty, the last of the GLX stations! This time, Taser was with me (as she was with Science Park), and we explored the station a little more than with Science Park. So, let’s look at it, shall we?

Helvetica!

If I looked at the old Lechmere, I’d have given it a 5, maybe a 6, on the basis of how freakin’ dingy it was. However, the new Lechmere is NOT that. New Lechmere is quite bright, with a canopy covering the island platform, and nice-looking elevator shafts. There’s also a busway under the viaduct and a Pedal & Park somewhere. And yes, just like the other GLX stations, it’s the honor system. Ugh. But hey, at least the elevator doesn’t smell like urine!

Nicely covered!
The old station razed
The fancy elevator shaft!
The T globe!
I spy a busway and….BlueBikes?
Oh please, they could’ve put faregates here!
A type 9 and Taser!

The good: It’s in a decent spot! It’s also got a liberal amount of bus connections as well as two Green Line branches! From here, the two branches split off to Union Square and Medford. It’s also close to a few shopping centers and, if you’re willing to walk a little, the Bunker Hill Community College (though the Orange Line is better for that).

The bad: Really? Still no faregates. Also no heated areas or bathrooms.

Nearby points of interest: I’m not really familiar with the area, but a quick look on Google Maps shows Cambridgeside and Cambridge Crossing, as well as North Point Park (moreso if you’re a railfan).

Overall, it’s alright. Just, it suffers from the same pitfalls as the other GLX stations. Hell, if it weren’t for the lack of faregates, it’d probably be the best GLX station second to Medford.

Transit connections: Green Line (D, E), MBTA bus (69, 80, 87, 88)

Rating: 7.5/10

Science Park (Green Line)

Alrighty, this entry is technically part 6 of the GLX saga, but unfortunately it had to be delayed a month due to just simply being waaaaaay too exhausted after Gilman Square and visiting East Somerville with Miles, Noel, Jeremy, and the others. Either way, here’s the first of the final two parts to the GLX saga, 27 days after the fact.

Helvetica!

Now, I know, it’s Science Park/West End (or Science Park Slash West End), but everyone just calls it Science Park. Of course, it’s elevated, which is always a treat. 😀

Anyways, you’ve got two elevated platforms which are rather plain and bogstandard. Stairs go down to the crossover area, and I’m pretty sure fare control is located just past the doors in said crossover area, but I didn’t have much time to check. I’ll also add, said doors and fare control is kinda tight in spacing. But, hey, at least up here you have the Charles River and a view of the North Station approach! In a sense, with how scenic it is, I’d consider this the Green Line’s Charles/MGH. If you’re foaming the Green, this is a quintessential spot, to paraphrase Taser’s opinion on here. Oh, as a fun aside, this is also the least-used fare-controlled Green Line station.

Down to Hell!
Kinkisharyo.
The stairs down
Type 7.
The T sign
The Zakim Bridge!
Another shot and the North Station approach drawbridge
OH GOD MY EYES!

The good: It’s located near the Museum of Science – the station’s biggest draw! It’s also near some parks.

The bad: Just one problem – it’s in the middle of the intersection! Yeah, it suffers from Charles’ biggest issue, too. Good luck!

Nearby points of interest: Guess. Just guess.

Overall, this is an alright station. It doesn’t have the modern aesthetic that Charles has, but it’s still serviceable. Just uh, good luck crossing the street.

Transit connections: Green Line (D/E)

Rating: 7/10

Aquarium (Blue Line)

WHEW, is it me or does it smell like Galilee down here?! Nah, I’m just kidding, although you can catch a few wafts of the ocean. Entering: Aquarium.

…does Bowdoin not exist?

Alrighty! So, the platform is your basic affair of what you’d expect on a Blue Line station. You’ve got, of course, two sides. However, unlike much of the T, the station kinda reminds me of a WMATA station in how the ceilings and walls look. I mean, I don’t hate the WMATA’s design, it feels very representative of the Cold War era (when that system came to be), but here I feel it’s nice too. You’ve also got some nice-looking tiles on the side, with even the mezzanine having the stone tile going on. As for the mezzanine, I couldn’t check (was waiting for a train), but here’s a picture from Miles’ entry on Aquarium.

From Miles’ entry.

Now, there’s one special thing about Aquarium that most other stations (actually, all) lack: a water connection. That’s right – Aquarium is in walking distance to Long Wharf, where one can connect with the ferry. Now, hopefully I get around to doing the Charlestown and Hingham/Hull ferries this year, so stay tuned.

Towards Wonderland
and towards Bowdoin!
The train!

The good: It’s right at a major tourist site! So, predictably, most people using this station are either transferring from the ferry or they’re going to the Aquarium.

The bad: That said, it’s kinda close to State Street! I mean, I’m pretty sure most people end up using that and walking the 1/4 mile. The sole bus connection is also the weekday-only 4, which is also peak-only, at that. That blows. Oh yeah, the smell of the ocean permeates the station.

Nearby points of interest: Take a guess.

Overall, it’s decent. And, if North/South rail happens, I feel like this station would be a good place to put a downtown infill CR/Amtrak stop (a Union Station?) to terminate trains at. And, besides, it’ll give the Blue a much-needed Commuter Rail link. Just don’t let the smell of fish make you heave over and vomit onto the 3rd rail.

Transit connections: Blue Line, MBTA bus (4), Charlestown Ferry, Hingham/Hull Ferry

Rating: 7/10

Viles St. (MBTA)

Ah, a new MBTA station, and it’s out in Weston! Sweet! Let’s see it!

OH MY.

OH UMMMM….

You mean to tell me, this GRADE CROSSING is the station?! WHAT?! Oh PLEASE! There’s not even anything nearby – aside from an ACTUAL station about a mile away (Kendal Green!) Holy fucking SHIT this is terrible – you KNOW it’s awful when there’s not even the white-on-purple Helvetica signage!

The good: LMAO

The bad: It’s just a grade crossing! WHY WAS THIS EVEN A STOP?! Just….no, just no…. Stops like this make me want to down whisky instead of actually visiting and reviewing them with just how TERRIBLE they are (for the record, no whisky was consumed, and I’m not an alcoholic).

Nearby points of interest: Kendal Green’s station. Duh.

Overall, thank GOD this station is closed. If I actually had to go out and review it, it’d be a bad day. Never mind that, I’d much rather walk from Kendal Green to here than actually get the odd train that would’ve served….. *checks notes* 4th-least used station on the entire Commuter Rail at last count (which excludes any service increases at Forest Hills, and the opening of Oak Grove, Foxboro, Chelsea, Blue Hill Ave., and Pawtucket)

Rating: …I refuse to score this one. Partly, it’s out of principle of “it’s unfair to score a closed station”, but also it’s just that bad. Don’t believe me? Read Miles’ entry on this sorry excuse of a station. He really goes ham with the keyboard and rant mode on it.

Stay tuned, as PAWTUCKET is opening on the 23rd!

A very Green Winter (Part 5 – Gilman Square)

(part 1, 2, 3, and 4)

Alrighty, the last entry for this saga! Let’s get this one down, and FAST because the train back to Medford is coming soon!

Elevators and T logo!
Helvetica and countdown signs!
And another elevator off in the distance!

Yeah, there’s no Pedal & Park here. Initially we were confused, however I think I remember seeing someone mention it’s tied to either the community path or Somerville HS. Weird choice, but whatever.

The good: It’s located in another residential neighborhood, and right next to Somerville HS! Yes, that means the children can take the Green Line to school!

The bad: No Pedal & Park, ironically enough, as of me writing this. Yes, I know, it’s coming later. But, for a line that seems to emphasize biking and transit utilization, it’s a little ironic that the station AT a high school lacks a Pedal & Park. Also, the honor system. Again.

Nearby points of interest: I mean, if you’re a parent or a high school student, I’m sure Somerville HS is pretty important. The town library is also in the area!

Transit connections: Green Line (E), MBTA bus (88 & 90 on Highland Ave., 80 on Medford & Pearl St.’s)

Overall, it’s much of the same as Magoun. However, the lack of a Pedal & Park on day 1 is a strike against it, and as such puts it as one of the worse stations on the GLX. It’s still significant, and for what it is, is alright enough.

Rating: 6/10

From here, I (with everyone else, this time!) returned to East Somerville, where Miles concluded his station review segment. We’d then go back to Medford for the ribbon cutting, at which point I had to bail out due to exhaustion (I’ve been up for 29 hours up to that point, 32 when I got home!). I will say, this has got to be the most hectic, enjoyable time I’ve had in a long time, and I hope there’s another grand opening in the future with anywhere near as much historical significance! (North/South Rail, or BLX to either Lynn or Charles, anyone?) With that all in mind, I’d like to give a special shoutout to everyone that I happened to be with on that day. Seriously, y’all are awesome people, and I doubt it’d have been as good a day without everyone else being as excited.

And with that, I wish everyone reading a nice rest of December, and if y’all celebrate anything, have fun with that.

Wait, what’s this? Why is there a T lollipop rising out of the ground in Pawtucket? Whelp, looks like I’ll be answering the call of duty again sooner rather than later. Stay tuned for that, everyone!