Alrighty, Wellesley Farms! So, Wellesley Hills kinda sucked and Wellesley Square definitely sucked, so is Wellesley Farms any bad? Let’s see.
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 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: Same as the others, being the Worcester Line and the 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!
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.
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.
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!
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……
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…….
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.
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!
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…..
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.
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.
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.
The good: It’s in downtown Framingham! And, it’s even in a walkable area, has Amtrak service (albeit VERY limited), 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.
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.
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, 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.
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: Just use the 553….. But no, in all seriousness, it’s got the 553, 554, and the Worcester Line.
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.
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!
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 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.
Next to arrive in the backlog from my journey on the 14th, is Cos Cob! What a weird place name. But, yeah, it’s still largely rich NIMBY hell. Let’s look at this station.
So first off, Interstate 95 runs directly above the train platforms, making it feel oddly dingy for a suburban park & ride. That’s a new one for me. There’s also bike parking here as well, which I don’t recall noticing at Riverside, Greenwich, or Old Greenwich. However, predictably, no bikes are parked here. There’s also a station house and the usual Metro-North amenities on the Grand Central side while the Stamford and New Haven side are lacking. And, just like Riverside, the crossover isn’t ADA accessible, but it’s a down & under, instead of up & over. But hey, at least it’s still segregated from Sound Shore Dr.! As for nearby things to do, there’s not much, just a park and a few offices and houses. Speaking of which…
Now, if you promise not to tell on me, there’s a nice little railfanning spot where you can get a view of the trains and the Mianus River bridge. So, all you have to do is walk to the park and behind the soccer field. That’s it. Here’s some shots I got from there.
The good: Well, it’s another residential park & ride, but this time we also have some offices and a park mixed in! Woooo!!! It’s also kinda scenic!
The bad: It’s under I-95! Also, no departure boards either, like Riverside, and it’s not accessible!
Nearby points of interest: Cos Cob Park, if you want some cool foamer shots!
Transit connections: Metro-North (New Haven Line)
Overall, it’s a nice station, however I think it’s dragged down greatly by I-95 being above it. But hey, shelter if it rains! Sadly the actual station building is only open in the AM rush, so there’s that. I think the foamer spot nearby redeems the station a little, though.
Riverside? Didn’t we do this already? Oh, it’s a Metro-North station, not the Green Line on the MBTA. Let’s look.
Getting off the train, it’s clear that this is a park & ride in the middle of what may as well be NIMBY hell. You got two parking lots, one on either side of the tracks. There’s also no ADA compliant crossover, so there’s that, and the platforms and stairs look like they’re falling apart. Uhhhhh…..
Oh yeah, the station building is only open in morning rush hours on weekdays. But hey, at least the crossover is segregated physically from Riverside Avenue! Vending machines for tickets can be found on the Grand Central-bound side as well. Yeah, not a lot to say about this one, aside from the fact it’s relatively niche in use cases. I guess this is pretty much why it’s among the least-used stations on the line.
The good: It’s in the middle of a residential neighborhood! So, there’s that at least! And, for being a primarily commuter station, it still sees decent service (about half-hourly on weekdays, I think? Please correct if I’m wrong!)
The bad: There’s no other transit connections. Also, there’s a lack of ADA-compliant crossovers, so screw you if you need that. No departure boards either. C’mon!
Nearby points of interest: Not a lot around here. Houses, I guess?
Transit connections: Metro-North (New Haven Line)
Overall, it’s an alright station. However, it still has some glaring flaws, namely stemming from the lack of any ADA accessibility for crossovers. The lack of departure boards is also very irritating, moreso if your phone is dead.
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!
Alrighty, the last entry for this saga! Let’s get this one down, and FAST because the train back to Medford is coming soon!
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.
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!