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