Whelp, here we are. Almost a whole year later, and exactly a year after my first ever entry on this site, I guess Harvard is the “true” 1 year anniversary entry, and what better way to mark a full year than to take care of the last subway station that I’ve yet to cover? Well, here we go, out onto the crimson yards, Big Red’s namesake even.
So, getting off the Red Line and a short victory dance of sorts later, I’m finally at Harvard, and HOLY SHIT is this station massive! Well, it’s not as grand as South or North Station, but it IS THE transfer point for Cambridge. So, let’s start with the Red Line platforms.
The platforms are set up in a way that’s relatively unusual: stacked atop one another. Why, the setup? I’m not sure, but maybe it has to do with Porter Square having to be bored over 150ft underneath Cambridge, since that station has a similar setup. There’s also two busways, but only one is in use, and they’re set up in a similar way as well. I’m not sure why there’s two if only one is ever used. Anyways, the mezzanine is spacious if you enter from Harvard Square proper, however the Church St. station gets a small mezzanine. But hey, you can see the rest of the station from here!
From here, I opted to instead check out what’s on the surface before going to the other mezzanine to check it out further. On the surface, you have the busy Harvard Square, with buses every which way you look. Massachusetts Avenue has a bus stop (why? the busway is right there!), as does Holyoke St. (again, why?!), and there’s a few statues in Harvard Yard. There’s also plenty of stuff to do around here, and even a protest happening on the college campus. I’m not sure what the protest is for, but knowing college students it’s probably over something silly. Either way, you have a few shopping centers nearby.
So, inside the main headhouse, you have access to the two busways, a few shops (there’s what looked to be a gift store halfway down the stairs into the station!), the customer service booth, and a few CharlieCard machines. It’s also very well lit down here, I’ll add. Lastly, the busways. The lower busway shouldn’t even exist given it’s closed, and furthermore, WHY ARE THERE EVEN TWO BUSWAYS?! Even furthermore, WHY ARE THERE CATENARIES DOWN HERE?! WHO’S RUNNING LIGHT RAIL DOWN INTO THESE TUNNELS?!
It turns out, there’s an answer to that. About a year ago (as of me writing this), the MBTA killed off their catenary-powered bus network up here, which primarily used the lower busway. Now, many people got salty over this, however I haven’t had much in the way of experience on those Neoplans and if the Silver Line is any indication (of which I’m far more familiar with), it’s probably a good thing they’re killing off catenary-powered buses. They’re old, dated, loud, slow, and can’t even maneuver around obstacles. Furthermore, retracting the pantographs take so inhumanely long that even IF there were a speed benefit like on trains, they’d be nullified the instant the pantographs need to be retracted. Something obstructing the road? Nope, can’t go around them! Now, unlike the Neoplans on the Silver Line, these buses (for whatever reason) boarded on the LEFT, which means YES, YOU COULD VERY EASILY FARE EVADE. WHY WOULD THEY HAVE BOARDING ON THE LEFT?! WHY, WHEN THAT SPACE COULD BE USED FOR A FEW EXTRA SEATS?! As for the upper busway, diesel underwire! Yeah, I absolutely hate catenary and how horribly inefficient they are for buses, but diesel underwire is STILL a far bigger crime! YES, THEY RUN DIESEL IN HERE! Apparently CNG is banned though, something about the catenaries still being live and the risk of going kablooay.
The good: It’s pretty freakin’ important! It serves Harvard University, the square, and all the shopping nearby. Furthermore, you have plenty of green space, a LOT of bus connections, the Red Line (the school IS the line’s namesake, after all!), and did I mention the historical importance of the area?
The bad: WHY ARE WE RUNNING DIESEL UNDERWIRE?! WHY IS THERE EVEN A SECOND BUSWAY THAT GOES UNUSED? WHY IS THERE EVEN STREET STOPS NEARBY FOR BUSES IF THE BUSWAY EVEN EXISTS?!
ALSO, DIESEL UNDERWIRE YFHGIEAODSPYHGEDIUAOPHGDIASOPHG
CATENARY MAY SUCK GREATLY FOR BUSES DUE TO THE LACK OF ANY ADVANTAGES (AND MOST DEFINITELY THE LACK OF SPEED!), BUT DIESEL AND CNG UNDERWIRE WILL ALWAYS BE A FAR BIGGER SIN!
Nearby points of interest: Harvard, duh! You also have the Cambridge Common, various shops, restaurants, several museums associated with the school, a few churches even. Did I mention the historical significance, of Harvard being the oldest college in the US? Lesley University is also nearby, but who gives a shit about that? (fun fact: I submitted an application to there, actually got accepted but ultimately opted for community college due to the cost). As a fun aside, you might also see the old Harvard/Holyoke station if you head southbound from here and look to the right. Below is a picture someone else took, not mine.
Transit connections: A lot. Red Line, MBTA bus (71, 73, 74, 75, 77, 78, 86, 96 in busway, 1, 68, 69 on Holyoke St., 66 at Garden St.), various Harvard and LMA shuttles
Overall, I like this station. It’s the third most-used station on the system, is of considerable importance, and serves a lot around it. Furthermore, it’s also a major bus terminal, and with its thought-out design, I think it’s worthy of quite the high score. On the upside, it’s also ventilated! Yay!
And, that concludes the subway saga. Thank you to everyone who came along for the journey, whether you actually came to review stations with me, or just read along at home. However, there’s still some unfinished business in this story arc, as I still have six Commuter Rail stations (w/ a $2.40 fare), and the East Boston Ferry. Then, from there, I guess I’ll start working on the Commuter Rail, the ferry, and the various bus networks around the state (& continue in Connecticut).
What? You thought there’s more to it? Go home! There’s nothing to be seen here!