The Future of Chelsea’s Corner

Alright, so a lot has been going on lately with myself and the future of the blog, and I figured I’d set the record straight on what’ll happen soonish. So, with that in mind, let’s dig straight into it with no delay.

SECTION 1: PRISON REVIEWS

Okay, prison reviews. What, exactly, does this entail? Well, it’s a new series I’m planning on doing where I’ll commit various crimes to get into various different prisons, review them and my experiences, and whatnot. Essentially, like station reviews, but even more fun because then I’m required to commit all sorts of (ideally white collar) crimes! 😀
So, stay tuned to watch me commit immigration crimes and insurance fraud, I guess! Maybe bribery, as well.

SECTION 2: ONLYFANS

Yes, you read that right. I’ll be venturing into the realm of OnlyFans. For those who know what OnlyFans is, you know. For those who don’t, it’s where you post your favorite pictures of your fans and everyone foams like crazy over them. Sounds great, no? If it sounds bad, well, I gotta pay the bills somehow and Walmart isn’t cutting it anymore. Maybe you might get to watch me partake in CHALLENGE PISSING. Or, you might get to see me Weston someone’s Whopper. Who knows? Link will be provided when it’s ready, must be 18+ to sign up.

SECTION 3: DIESEL RAPID TRANSIT

Yes, you also read that right. I will be joining the call to dieselize the MBTA rapid transit network by the year 2035, with the pros of allowing EVERYBODY to have the Back Bay Experience(TM)!!! Please do join me in getting this monumental effort underway. Given the MBTA’s aversion to electrification, I’m sure this will be a lot easier than electrifying the Commuter Rail. Viva la diesel, and long live the Budd RDC!

SECTION 4: PATREON

Yes, I’m a money hungry bastard. I’m going to be beginning a Patreon to assist my OnlyFans, both of which will be funding my transit escapades and my transition. But, what benefits will be given to Patreon? Lobbying? Crowdfunded trolleybuses? Nope! You get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Yes, that’s right, NOTHING! Fuck you if you’re a big enough schmuck to sign up for Patreon! Link will be provided when ready.

SECTION 5: TROLLEYBUSES

Last section for this announcement: trolleybuses! I am going to be crowdsourcing funding for RIPTA to set up trolleybuses all around Rhode Island, much to the demise of NIMBYism. Allegedly they’re superior, but I’ve always maintained the school of thought that trolleybuses absolutely SUCK, and I still stand by that and the fact they’re the most inflexible type of vehicle second to trains. So, while the Washington Bridge is out and the governor is trying to get the Senate President’s brother to do the job to fix it, why not add to the mess by goring up Kennedy Plaza with catenary everywhere? Stay tuned for the Fundrazr link.

So, as y’all can probably tell, this blog is going places locally. And, I’m excited. I hope y’all are too, thanks for the 2+ years of adventures, and I hope to have 2+ more years. And, if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably realized that this isn’t serious by any means of the imagination. (look at the publish date, silly!)
–Chelsea

What’s in a name? (aka The Nomenclature Rant(TM))

Nomenclature: the body/system of names in a field

Why is the above relevant? Well, that’s because we’re going to be talking about nomenclature and naming convention. Lines vs. routes vs. trains, colors vs. alphabet soup, wayfinding, inbound/outbound, the hell even is an “uptown”?! Well, you name it, I’ll be sure to mention it and talk about it a little, and some of the problems a decent naming system can prevent, and a bad naming system can cause.

Some MBTA wayfinding

First, let’s take a look at what I’m most familiar with: the MBTA. So, the MBTA uses terms like inbound/outbound, the rainbow for subway lines (alphabet soup for the Green & Silver Lines specifically, primarily), and overall is pretty damn good with regards to wayfinding. Inbound and outbound are relative to Park St., Downtown Crossing, Government Center, and State Street (going towards these four is “inbound”, away is “outbound”). Then, there’s the Green Line. The Green (& also Silver, as it applies here too) are split into four branches: B-E. Wayfinding here is a bit gorey as all the signage will say “GREEN LINE – [TERMINAL]/PARK ST & NORTH/COPLEY & WEST”. Not exactly helpful for signage, if you were to say “go take a train signed for Heath Street” or “board a D train” – as the signs will NOT tell you this. Good wayfinding consistent with what’s on rolling stock? Well, not entirely…

Silver Line?!

The Silver Line (at least, the Transitway), however, is different… Yeah. As seen above, not only do you have a map of the Silver Line, you also have signage WHICH TELLS YOU WHAT THE ROUTES ARE SIGNED AS ON THE BUSES AND WHERE THEY GO!!!!!! WOAH, THIS IS ACTUALLY KINDA USEFUL! On the other hand, with the Green Line also existing, this KINDA LEAVES A LOT TO BE DESIRED THERE! Like, why not have signs say “B/C GOVERNMENT CENTER”, “D UNION SQUARE” and “E MEDFORD/TUFTS” (or B BOSTON COLLEGE, C CLEVELAND CIRCLE, D RIVERSIDE, and E HEATH ST.)?!

Oh dear god

And then you have wayfinding like in NYC……. Well, to the uninitiated (like myself), it looks immensely gorey. The fuck is an uptown, the hell does all this mean, and why does the Red Line stop on many platforms?! HELP, I DON’T GET ANY OF THIS!!!! Well, chill there, little Timmy…

First off, it’s highly frowned upon to call subway lines by way of the rainbow in NYC. I mean, you can, but then you’ll have a case where “125th St. on the Red Line” can mean 125th & Broadway (the #1 Red Line) or 125th & Malcolm X Blvd. (the #2 and #3 Red Line). For cases like this, it’s usually prudent to just use cross-streets, or simply the service name. What’s a service? Well, think of a service like the Green or Red Line’s branches in Boston. Essentially, services in NYC are what branches are in Boston, and are more “routes” like bus routes are. Furthermore, the colors primarily refer to where in Manhattan the routes run. From left to right, north to south:

Blue: 8th Ave.
Red: 7th Ave.
Yellow: Broadway
Orange: 6th Ave.
Green: Lexington Ave.
Teal: 2nd Ave. (not currently used)
Purple: Flushing (runs underneath 42nd St. primarily)
Silver: Canarsie (runs underneath 14th St. primarily)
Brown: Nassau St.

But then you have the Crosstown Line (which doesn’t touch Manhattan at all), which is also green (but lighter green), and the shuttle lines are also in silver-grey (used for the Times Sq.-Grand Central, Franklin Ave., and Rockaway shuttles). But, whatever you do, do NOT use the rainbow, as tempting as that may be, or this might happen:

This screenshot was doctored, but it illustrates what happens when you use the rainbow in the context of NYC.

What the hell is an “uptown”? Simply put, uptown is north. Downtown, while you might be tempted to think is a synonym for “city center”, and in most cases you’d be right (downtown Boston, City Center Philly, Downcity Providence, can all be referred to as “downtown” and you probably won’t raise eyebrows out of confusion). However, use that in New York, and you’ll invariably raise eyebrows. Where IS “downtown”? Common sense might tell you “it’s near where Penn Station, Grand Central, the World Trade Center, UN HQ, etc. are”, however it’s not that simple…

Yes, there are actually MULTIPLE downtowns in NYC. “Downtown” without any place names simply refer to “south”, and “downtown Manhattan” is synonymous with lower Manhattan. However, you also have downtown Brooklyn and downtown Flushing in Queens. So, while it’s reasonable to think “downtown NYC” if you’re not familiar, just bear that in mind that most will probably default to lower Manhattan.

Back to wayfinding, what the hell does that sign mean? Well, let’s break it down. We’ve established that “Uptown” is north, The Bronx refers to, well, the Bronx, so what does the rest of the signage mean? Local tracks are the outer tracks in a 3- or 4-track setup, with express tracks being the inner tracks. So, essentially, the sign is saying “#2 and #3 7th Ave. Line stops at this platform heading north. #1 and #2 7th Ave. Line stops on local tracks during nights, change at 42nd St. for #3 7th Ave. Line”. That’s pretty much what the wayfinding sums up to. Sometimes, some routes that normally run express will run local at night or weekends, or they might short-turn somewhere before their terminus.

Other cities are relatively tame when it comes to wayfinding, like Chicago or Philly (I sadly don’t have many pictures of either), however typically NYC is considered the goriest and it’s understandable from an outsider’s POV on why that might be so. However, typically, if you need any help figuring out the gorey mess (at face value), usually Google can be of help, as are any staff that are at the station. There’s no shame in asking, and when I was in NYC I may have had to ask for a little bit of help myself.

So, how does this play into my blog? Well, I use the line name in the titles for subway stations, and rail operators for commuter and intercity rail stations. The MBTA was easy enough, as I could just simply suffix (Blue Line), (Red & Green Lines), etc. to each title where applicable. Metro-North is also easy, as I could just suffix (Metro-North) to each station, or (Amtrak/Metro-North) where applicable. But, the MTA? Each subway line is more a “route” than an actual line, as I said earlier. So, how am I handling this? Well, this poses another conundrum. For titles, usually grouping subway lines together is better for readability. I’d be more inclined, personally, to click something that read, as an example:

14th St.-Union Square (Lexington Ave./Broadway/Canarsie)

over
14th St.-Union Square (4/5/6/L/N/Q/R/W).

I mean, yeah, using alphabet soup is quicker, if I’m typing, but it’s also not really pursuant to readability. Plus, using those rules, I’d have to go back and retroactively change every Red Line station to (Ashmont/Braintree), every Green Line to (B/C/D/E), and every Silver Line stop to (SL1/SL2/SL3/SL4/SL5) or whatever is applicable. And, I don’t want to do that. So, for the sake of maintaining consistency between agencies and not pissing off the foamers in the room, I’m using the actual line name rather than the alphabet soup. And, with that, I hereby conclude my rambling on nomenclature and wayfinding.

Now excuse me, I need to go shit on the #7 Flushing Line for being overhyped (or smth, i actually don’t know what to do from here)

TL;DR: consistent naming convention is good. Wayfinding that isn’t a garbled mess or too overwhelming is good. Duplicative naming can be bad if there’s no way to differentiate.

Emergency Providence/Bristol Ferry (Seastreak & RIDOT)

ALRIGHTY! I was NOT anticipating this when a national emergency was declared over the I-195 bridge closure in December. Well, given it just got announced that it’s ending in two weeks due to low ridership, I decided, at 4:15 AM on the day of writing this (1/6/24), that I’m going to ride this ferry and see what it’s like. With that in mind, let’s look at the ferry, shall we?

Yep. There’s a shuttle.

Now, I WOULD ride the shuttle for the full experience. However, there’s one issue with that: I’m doing this on a Saturday – and the shuttles don’t run on weekends. This means, I’m at the behest of bus routes 35, 60, and 78 on the Providence end (& even then, the closest stop is right before I-195), and route 60 on the Bristol end. Yikes. That translates to a combination of (presumably) uncoordinated headways of 30, 90, and 45 minutes on one end, and 30 minutes on the other (fortunately it’s one route in Bristol!). Anyhow! I got on the second run of the 13, went all the way into Providence, and to the ferry dock. In terms of what awaited me? It’s basically the Newtonville of ferry docks: very barebones and next to I-195. Eww. 1/10 rating from me.

Yep. That’s the entire ferry terminal. Quite sad, to be real.

Upon boarding the ferry though, it was quite nice actually. You have restrooms, a lot of seating, provisions for food amenities (not used), and even television service on the boat I rode down to Bristol. In terms of comfort vs. things that I normally ride, I’d have to actually say this is about on par with an Amfleet. For context, I LOVE the Amfleets with how comfy the seats are and the legroom. Honestly, I’m not sure if the Ventures out west can beat them. Eventually, we got moving and were on the high seas for about 35-40 minutes, before we docked at Bristol’s ferry terminal. So, how was that?

I was the only one up here.
The Bristol terminal

The Bristol terminal was a different story. It’s a small parking lot, yes, but you also have an actual park in the area as well, with benches. You also have shopping in the area as well, which is nice. No sheltered waiting room, though, but meh. Rating: 4/10.

A park and the marina
Some shopping
SEASTREAK!!!!!!!!
Bye!!!!!!!
Onwards!
Local charter tour bus
My return trip

So, why is RIDOT canning the ferry service? Well, I’ve seen many arguments online with people saying “it’s a waste of taxpayer money” and all that usual bullshit. And, to an extent, I might be inclined to agree. However, just saying that alone and not doing an autopsy isn’t good enough for me. While local ridership exists, it’s currently just too niche a thing for more people to use regularly. For one, it just isn’t convenient in comparison to RIPTA’s bus route 60. Take a look at this.

Would “paddle” be appropriate, like with bus runs?

There’s a 3 hour gap midday for servicing and the crew to take their breaks. I mean, I understand that these people need to take breaks legally (& I can’t fault them for wanting one), and the boats need to be serviced occasionally, but there really ought to be some way to mitigate the gap in service. Never mind this, it’s the middle of winter. Only the bravest of souls are going to sail the high seas at this time of year. And, most of all, PVD-Bristol isn’t really that big a commuter market. I mean, if anything, PVD-Bristol is a spring/summer/fall route, not something you’d run in the winter. Seriously, RIDOT, I’d WANT to ride this more if it ran in the spring or summer!!! Even if fares were $4 or smth, and it were under the RIPTA umbrella! Actually, if anything, I’d argue a case where RIPTA gets proper funding AND additional funding to take on the state’s ferry network, presumably contracted out to Seastreak. Also, shoutout to the friendly people working the boats at Seastreak.

With all that in mind, I’d actually have to give the ferry service itself an 8/10. I mean, it’s reasonably fast, or at least time-competitive with RIPTA’s 60, and the Bristol terminal is in a central location. The biggest issues here boil down to the Providence terminal basically being another Newtonville, and with minimal bus connections (& no references to the ferry on said buses). The midday gap is also bleh, I get it exists for servicing reasons, but it hinders the usability of the ferry. Overall though, it’s pretty good, and I wish RIDOT wasn’t prematurely killing it off.

Rating: 8/10

The Mt. Hope Bridge!

Chelsea VS. the State Department

Well, I never thought I’d be writing this. By the time this blog entry comes out, I should have the end result of my efforts here, but until then this will remain a draft. For context, I started writing this on 11/9/2023. It will almost likely be January or February of 2024. Maybe even March. Maybe I’ll be 23 by the time the end result turns up at my doorstep. Maybe Chelsea vs. NYC: The Nomenclature Rant(TM) will be written and completed by then. Who knows. (spoiler: it was 12/12/23, much earlier than anticipated) But, until then, I will be documenting my misadventures involving the State Department and obtaining a passport.

ATTEMPT #1: 2023-11-06 to 2023-11-09
“APPROACHING: Garden City….at….Midway Road…and….Garden court… :(“

The first attempt starts when a friend texts me and pesters me about getting a passport. Now, anyone who knows me would know I’m staunchly against getting one on two grounds:
1. They’re stupidly overpriced (over $200?! Really?!) and
2. …why do we need to carry a freakin’ book around, when a normal ID has all the info that a police officer would need?

Anyone who also knows me well enough, also knows I’m not one to bail out on commitments, either made by myself or someone else (if that “someone else” is overly pushy, I’ll do it to shut them up – if it’s not illegal), as I otherwise feel like an asshole if I bail out. Of course, that “commitment” can be something as simple as getting a paper in by week’s end, or something as elaborate as documenting every train and rapid transit station in southern New England. And, so, I felt obligated to buy a passport now that I got put into that predicament. So, upon being told by my friend they made an appointment in my name, on my behalf, for Thursday (2023-11-09), I obliged. I go through everything, print everything out, go crazy looking for my birth certificate to photocopy, photocopy everything I need, and bring it in, and I pay the $200+……or it would be so, IF THE DAMN DEPARTMENT OF STATE WASN’T SO DAMN NEEDY! YEAH, NOT ONLY DO YOU NEED TO PHOTOCOPY EVERYTHING, THEY ALSO DEMAND YOU HAVE ORIGINALS ON HAND TOO! Like, why even photocopy at that point?! Just save the damn trees! And I say this, as someone who prefers double-tracking through the Needham wetlands and sending the Orange Line through it, over a double extension solution! (that is, Orange Line to Millennium Park & double branching the Green Line to split at Newton Highlands)

And so, I walked away from the Garden City post office defeated and (thankfully) not short $200+…….for now, went back to West Warwick to run some errands, and picked up a non-photocopied, well, copy of my birth certificate to cover my ass (hopefully they’ll take it!), and got lunch at a local restaurant. Next attempt would have me go down to the Nooseneck Hill Post Office, just outside Woodland Manor, on 2023-11-20.

The long corridor of Post Office Plaza – the office building housing the Garden City Post Office in Cranston

ATTEMPT #2: 2023-11-09 to 2023-11-20
“APPROACHING: Rhode Island Route 3…and…Reservoir Road…..”

Okay, so after waiting for about 2 weeks from the last part, I took the trip out to Woodland Manor in the borderlands. Scheduled appointment time: 10:30 AM. My bus arrived at the end of my street at about 9:40ish, and would get to Woodland Manor for 10:06, about 3-4 minutes ahead of schedule. Neat! This gave me about 24 minutes to spare in the borderlands. While annoying, it wasn’t too bad to work with since I was hungry and there was a Cumberland Farms right there. And then came 10:30ish.

One of the clerks asked me what I needed, and I told them I was there for a passport appointment. I hung tight for the passport lady to call me up (under deadname, sadly, but oh well!), and…..well, it actually wasn’t painful! She looked over the paperwork, confirmed that I needed photo services done too (admittedly, I didn’t trust myself with this part DIYed), and went over everything in a clear and concise manner, right down to correcting any erroneous information or the offchance the photo taken got rejected. But, with that all taken care of, everything was all submitted for a grand total of…….drumroll please……

*drumrolls*

$212. Yikes. But, I knew what I was getting myself into here (at least moreso than the original plan for the 2023 Thanksgiving Special, which got canned for a combination of self-preservation and an inability to find a fitting helmet in time). Besides, I had 2 and a half hours to spare before work, and what better way to spend it from there than to buy lunch? From there, I opted to go down to Arctic, buy a burger (with 2x hot weenies, fries, and hot chocolate!) from Ferrucci’s NY System, and then go to work. Overall, good food if you’re willing to tolerate eating in a locally-owned establishment plastered with some right-wing propaganda.

The borderlands…
THE MUGSHOT!

PART 3: THE ARRIVAL (2023-11-20 to 2023-12-12)
*ding dong!* “[DEADNAME], YOU GOT SOME MAIL FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT!” -stepdad, probably (yeah sadly they deadname me. Oh well!)

Well, this happened MUCH earlier than anticipated! All of….THREE WEEKS?! Huh, interesting. Actually, the issuing date was listed for just last week (as of me writing this), which lines up with when I got a phone call from a 617 number that I didn’t recognize. Turns out, it was, in fact, the State department, and they wanted to double check that “X” was, in fact, my gender. Yep! And then came the morning of 12/12/23, as I was about to go shower and get ready for work. So, I go shower, open the packages from the State Department, and wouldn’t ya know it: I got my birth certificate copy back! Furthermore, I got a US passport! What’s in it? Well……not a lot, actually. I’m not even sure what it’s made out of, but it feels like a hardcover book. I also admittedly don’t dig the monochromatic color scheme, but whatever. I’m also not sure what the square-shaped Pokeball thing is supposed to be. The first page is a picture of what looks to be from the Civil War the War of 1812 and some lyrics from the national anthem (thanks Avery for letting me in on this!), and the page adjacent has a Lincoln quote and a bit about the Secretary of State (Anthony Blinken as of the writing of this!) requesting that the bearer be let into a country without delay or hindrance. How often is this request honored? I don’t know, and I’m a bit scared to find out.

The cover!
The first two pages

Well, up next is the actual “ID” bit of the passport. For the sake of my own safety, I can’t really show this part as applicable to me specifically, however below is an example. Here we go describing what’s on it, from top to bottom. On the top row you have your passport type (P is for your standard US passport. Not sure if this holds true for other countries, nor do I know what the code is for special-variant US passports), your country’s code (the USA in this case), and the number. Then, you have your surname, your legal first & middle names, nationality (is usually the same as country’s code in long form), birthday, gender marker (X in my case. This may not be an option elsewhere, and most places don’t allow one to self-declare gender), place of birth (how is this relevant?????), followed by issuance and expiration dates. There’s also a bunch of characters at the bottom that I’m not sure what they’re for.

The ID page (not mine)

The next page goes into detail about security measures implemented, along with a blank to fill in emergency contact info. Lastly, you have about 26 or so blank pages. Apparently they’re called “visa pages” however I’m not exactly sure what a debit card company has to do with this. Then there’s the rear, which has a QR code that brings you to the State Department’s website. Neat!

The back page

So, overall, was this worth it? Eh, I guess it depends on which lens you look through at it. If you don’t have even an inkling of interest in international travel? Not worth it, and you just wasted $200+. But, if you have even the slightest of interest in international travel, why not? Granted, it’s steep, but look at it this way: for every time you use it, the cost per use goes down, and there’s 26 blank pages, which brings it to…..$8.15 a use if used fully (for clarification, the math here is $212 divided by 26 pages, or 212/26). While I still don’t exactly see how $200+ is a “good” price, I’m sure if I find myself in situations where it’s actually needed, I might see how valuable it actually is. And, with that, concludes Chelsea vs. the State Department.

Wellesley Farms (MBTA)

Alrighty, Wellesley Farms! So, Wellesley Hills kinda sucked and Wellesley Square definitely sucked, so is Wellesley Farms any bad? Let’s see.

Bye!!!

Alrighty, so not only does Wellesley Farms have a station building (which houses the bike rack!), it’s also on the register of historic places! Neat! Unfortunately, that’s where the good ends. You’ve got amenities on the inbound platform, while the outbound only has a few unsheltered benches. On the upside, it’s a nice and quiet place to railfan express trains, which is nice. Furthermore, there’s a lake nearby, and it just feels tranquil, moreso when it’s raining (like when I came here!). Unfortunately, though, there’s not a lot nearby – just a few houses. And, just like Green’s Farms, there’s no farm nearby. Also, crossing over involves a pretty long walk over the overpass and down a side street. As a fun aside, you can technically get the Green Line from here – if you’re willing to walk for almost 40 minutes. But, at that point, just call a Catch Connect.

The tracks towards Worcester!
Bad omen!
That’s a fine little station building! I like it!
Lake!
Second shot!
Some housing on the other side!
Inside the station building
The other side’s amenities. Not much. Also, was there a crossing here?
And an unzoomed platform – with red dot matrix sign!
Parking!

The good: You got some parking! Furthermore, the inbound side has most of the amenities you’d want (shelter, benches, wastebaskets, and a red dot matrix sign!). Plus, it’s in a rich suburban area! Neat! I also like the rural vibes

The bad: It’s still inaccessible! Furthermore, it’s a walk to anything nonresidential, and using the Worcester Line as inter-Wellesley transit is too impractical due to low headways (hourly outside peak on weekdays, 2 hours on weekends!).

Nearby points of interest: Not a lot. Wellesley Lower Falls has some things per Miles’ entry on this station, but given the Marathon was in progress as of me reviewing this, I couldn’t check it out. But hey, I like this place for railfanning.

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Worcester)
MWRTA (Catch Connect)

Overall, this is probably the best Wellesley station, given the tranquil nature and the station building. Unfortunately, though, it’s still grossly inaccessible and a bit far from anything. But hey, Catch Connect exists on weekdays!

Rating: 4/10

Wellesley Hills (MBTA)

Up next: Wellesley Hills! After Wellesley Square turned out to be a complete dud, how does the next closest station, Wellesley Hills, turn out? Well, actually, a little better. Let’s see.

Helvetica!

Well, there’s definitely hills! The outbound side is literally hugging a cliff! As for the station itself? Well, it still kinda sucks. Still inaccessible, low-level boarding, and the same amenities as Wellesley Square. Except, unlike there, you have an actual SHELTER that’s not shoddy! And, there’s a cafe in the station building that’s open all day! How do you change sides, though? Well, there’s a grade crossing on the western end of the outbound platform. Just be mindful of Amtrak passing by in the early afternoon and in the evening.

A train, and the stairs down to the platforms
A whole lotta cliffside!
Bye!!!
Parking!
Some Boston Marathon activities!
A multi-unit facility
The station building and Marathon crowds!
Framingham Extra to South Station!

The good: It’s a nice area in terms of scenery! Furthermore, this also has a similar “town center” feel to Wellesley Square, which I dig. I also really like the station building and the fact it’s still in use as a cafe, and is open all day. MWRTA’s Catch Connect also deviates here!

The bad: Not accessible! Yeah, this is a recurring theme with the Wellesley trio. I also wish there was a second shelter on the low-level platform. Furthermore, why are there no benches on the outbound side?!

Nearby points of interest: There’s a few restaurants nearby! Not as much that stands out though, as around Wellesley Square. Sorry! But, as a railfanning spot, I kinda like it!

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Worcester Line)
MWRTA (Catch Connect)

Overall, it’s a slight improvement to Wellesley Square, it’s got a shelter, but it’s still not that great a station sadly. Sorry! Is Wellesley Farms any good?

Rating: 3.5/10

West Natick (MBTA)

West Natick, oh West Natick. Well, it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere upon getting off the train from Framingham. But, is it really though? Well……

Bye, ya smoking diesel guzzling growler!
Oh dear God…

Whelp, the Helvetica Condensed is a reassuring sign of things! But, it’s not actually bad??? The station’s accessible, has a sheltered mini-high, has amenities, plenty of parking, a departure board(!!), a sheltered parking lot(!!!), and even a neighborhood map that shows MWRTA connections! Holy crap, they actually put some QOL improvements into this station! As for the area, it’s definitely in a suburban neighborhood with a modest amount of parking. Furthermore, you also have solar panels covering the parking spaces as well, which is nice! However, it’s also a “screw you” Commuter Rail station, as there’s a departure board at the entrance, and if the train’s blocking the crossing, you’ll have to wait up to 2 hours. Yeah…….

Mini-highs and a departure board!
There she curves!
Another track shot!
Today was an exception to the rule!
A concrete grade crossing….ugh…
Yeah, sorry, no Natick Center review until they’re done with construction!
Sheltered parking – and Transit Police keeping tabs on the area. If you see something, say something!
I don’t believe I’ve seen this at any Commuter Rail station before – only on the subway
The classic “screw you” station symptom

Now, as for the area surrounding it, yeah it’s pretty much all suburbia. However, it’s also an almost-front row seat for the Boston Marathon. You can also tell when your train to South Station has left Framingham when the horns start ringing out, as there’s a couple of grade crossings between here and Framingham.

Milepost 8!
What’s that?
Oh my, another HSP! This time deadheading to Framingham!
And the rear as it crawls through

The good: It’s located in a decent place, has enough parking, sheltered parking, and overall has amenities you’d expect from your average Commuter Rail station. Furthermore, it also has a map showing MWRTA bus connections! Yeah, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that anywhere else on the system – not even in Pawtucket or Blue Hill Avenue! I also like how it feels nice and peaceful, being in the middle of suburbia.

The bad: Eh, would be nice if there was a pedestrian bridge instead of a grade crossing, and full-length high platforms.

Nearby points of interest: There’s a small plaza, but aside from that, just take the 10 or 11 to wherever, as it’s all housing. If you’re willing to hike for about an hour, you can get to the Natick Mall!

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Worcester Line)
MWRTA (10, 11)

Overall, I like the station and how it feels quiet and tranquil. Heck, if anything, they’re more my personal favorites, and for a Worcester Line station it’s probably one of the best. Now, if only that grade crossing was gone…..

Rating: 8/10

Framingham (MBTA/Amtrak)

Alrighty, Framingham! Framingham, in several ways, is like Stamford in that it divides the Worcester Line into an inner and outer zone. However, this only comes in during peak hours, where some trains express through the inner line or short-turn at Framingham. So, here we go.

Helvetica!

So, first thing to note is there’s a mini-high here! Furthermore, you have “BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!” as trains sit at the station. Would it kill them to have “TRAIN APPROACHING, PLEASE REMAIN BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE!” instead like on the NEC? Alright, whatever, you got some benches, wastebaskets, etc., etc., and a footbridge. There’s also an elevator (WHICH BROKE AFTER I LEFT!!!), which unfortunately was a hot mess. That’s probably because of the Marathon passing and this station being a front-row seat. Furthermore, since there’s a CSX yard nearby, you can also get some action on that front here too. Oh yeah, Amtrak stops here once a day in each direction. Receive-only towards Chicago and discharge-only towards Boston, however.

Parking!
Mini-high!
And from further away!
THROW YOUR FUCKING TRASH AWAY!
It’s kinda nasty!
Metal footbridge!
Deadheading train!
see essex
Looking towards the station on the grade crossing!
Historic station building!
Train!

So, there’s also plenty of parking, and the MetroWest Regional Transportation Authority stops here as well! In fact, they even have a caboose (converted into an office space!) located in the aptly-named banana lot. However, since it’s Patriots Day, MWRTA wasn’t operating.

Banana lot!
I legitimately like the MWRTA paint scheme on the caboose.
A MWRTA bus stop on Waverley Street!
Train meet!
And from above!
Bye!
Yeah, I’m not sure what CSX was doing, however they were moving the freight cars back and forth up the wye
WHY IS IT DISPLAYING THE WINDOWS DESKTOP?!
More freight action and good ol’ PSR!
HSP!
Marathon stuff!

The good: It’s in downtown Framingham! And, it’s even in a walkable area, has Amtrak service (albeit VERY limited – this is also, as of the end of Amtrak’s 2023 fiscal year, Massachusetts’ least-used Amtrak station), and even has a few short-turns from here to South Station. Also, I seriously dig the MWRTA caboose, it adds a bit of character not found in other stations out here. Like, where’s the GATRA caboose in Mansfield or the RIPTA one in Pawtucket?!

The bad: Really? Mini-highs still? Well, it at least makes some sense out here given heavy freight activity, but wouldn’t gauntlet tracks work? Also, the elevators are probably on the lesser reliable side given they crapped out today during the Boston Marathon.

Nearby points of interest: Well, the station building houses a steakhouse, and there’s a few parks nearby. Furthermore, it’s in the downtown area, and if you’re a railfan it’s a pretty good place to railfan CSX.

Transit connections:
Amtrak (Lake Shore Ltd.)
Commuter Rail (Worcester Line)
MWRTA (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 15)

Overall, I really like this station. Darn, I really need to come out here more often for railfanning purposes (especially for CSX!). Only way it’d be better is if MWRTA had an indoor waiting area with restrooms for commuters and Amtrak passengers. But, as-is, it’s probably one of the better stations on the line.

Rating: 7.5/10

West Newton (MBTA)

Oh jesus Christ, no, no, no, please not the last of the Newton trio….well, at least it’s the last one. So, is it that much worse? Ugh…

Well, this isn’t reassuring.

Well, there’s not much different here vs. the other Newton stations at Auburndale and Newtonville. You got an anemic amount of amenities, a low-level inaccessible platform, an anemic amount of parking, a silly little shelter, and the Mass Pike! Woohoo! Eventually, the train departed, revealing a wood crossover platform that’s long enough for a singular pair of doors. Yeah, this is how you get service to the other track – which had to be done earlier today because of heavy ridership associated with the Boston Marathon. As for the area around the station? Well, you got some shopping on Washington Street, but at that point just use the 553. As for the other side of the Mass Pike, it’s all residential.

HSP!
The tracks…
The shelter and an outbound train!
The ass of the train
Stairs! Don’t look down!
Graffiti!

The good: Shopping nearby? And some other stuff??? I’m not exactly sure on this, when the 553 exists.

The bad: THIS STATION ABSOLUTELY SUCKS IT’S NOT ACCESSIBLE, HAS AN ANEMIC AMOUNT OF PARKING, IS LOW-LEVEL, IS NEXT TO THE FUCKING MASSACHUSETTS TURNPIKE, IS LOUD, WHIRRING, TRASH-FILLED, AND DID I MENTION THE INACCESSIBILITY?!

Nearby points of interest: I got my lunch at West Newton Pizza & Grill! And a Dunkies is nearby, but just use the 553.

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Worcester)
MBTA bus (553, 554)

Overall, no. Just, no.

Rating: 0.75/10

The pizza was good, but the fries weren’t anything special.

Stonington HOP (SEAT)

Alrighty, so we’re on to SEAT and our first entry is …a dial-a-ride. Oh dear god. Well, it can’t be that bad, right? Let’s look.

Token Transit?!

So, after downloading Token Transit and the SEAT Connect apps onto my iPhone, I was ready to use the Stonington HOP. After railfanning a bit and having lunch in Mystic Village, I was ready to make my way to Westerly. The drop-off point? Some random gas station near the state line!

HOP across Stonington!

After dialing my ride and waiting about 16 minutes, it showed up on the map in the app and, eventually, made its way to the train station. From here, I boarded the bus, put my phone against the Token Transit reader, and confirmed I was heading to Pawcatuck (not Pawtucket!). The driver asked me if I lived in Westerly, to which I said nah and happened to instead be transferring to RIPTA there (which I was, stay tuned!). In terms of the routing, it was pretty much a straight shot down US-1 through Stonington. And, with how Stonington is, it’s pretty much rural the whole way. However, we did end up deviating to Brookside Village to pick up an old lady, who happened to have a change of plans due to the 108 being caught in major I-95 traffic. She, however, got off after I did. But, aside from her, there was pretty much nobody on the cutaway van (which, yes, was plagued with jiggly wheelchair lift syndrome).

The cutaway van!
Pizzeria!
One of several rivers!
A house!
Big Y!
Another river!
And another one!
A field!
Pretty sure this was a veterinarian clinic
More rural housing!
Strip mall!
There is a sbubby in this plaza
Deviation time!
Now flying down US-1!
Bye!!!

The good: It’s a lifeline for Stonington! Yeah, it’s irritating it couldn’t supplement the 10 instead of outright replacing it, but for what it is and the general nature of Stonington, it’s probably the best option for serving the town effectively with transit. Also, the span of service is alright for a rural dial a ride!

The bad: Eh, it can be a little unpredictable at times, but that’s just the nature of dial a ride systems. Furthermore, the fact certain passes aren’t accepted isn’t that great either. The map on the SEAT Connect app can also be a little confusing to some as well (says some bits of Stonington aren’t in the service area? Also placed the pickup point the next building over to the train station?) Also, jiggly wheelchair lift.

Nearby points of interest: Mystic Village, Stonington Center, Pawcatuck, and the entire town of Stonington!

Overall, it gets the job done. It’s not the best solution, but when you’re serving rural areas with public transit, there really isn’t any legitimately “good” solution so much as there is a “least bad” solution. However, I can comfortably give it a decent enough score. And, what’s with dial a ride and flexible route operators seemingly always being more friendly in general than their fixed-route counterparts? Just an observation I’ve made.

Rating: 7/10

Back in Rhode Island!