South Attleboro (MBTA/RIPTA/GATRA)

Wait, didn’t this one get closed? Well…..about that. They actually reopened it today (as of me writing this) for limited peak-direction service. What’s it like? Actually, it’s…….actually very, VERY sad. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Helvetica in the dark!

So, I was the first person to get off a train here, at the unholy hour of 4:30ish AM. Yep! THAT early. The station, however, is pretty bogstandard. While you don’t have a way to cross to the other side, all trains that serve this station stops on the outbound platform. The station itself is well-lit, and the mini-high has a bench for waiting. The low-level platform is fairly long, but usually only one door opens here. The tactile strip is inconsistently placed, weirdly enough. Not sure what’s up with that. There’s a decent amount of parking, a Market Basket nearby, RIPTA and GATRA buses, and even a new departure board alongside the ’80s-era red dot matrix warning signs. This feels cursed. That aside, you have Newport Avenue overhead and I-95 a stone’s throw away. As for railfanning, it’s alright, all things considered.

See ya!!!
Parking!
Newport Avenue!
Stairs to street level
Benches!
Towards I-95!
The mini-high!
It seems pretty well-lit
Oh this look vintage…
THE DAMN CROSSWALK BUTTONS DON’T WORK.
Looking towards Bristol Place
Towards Wickford Junction!
The decrepit outbound platform
Pay up!
Here comes something
Express MBTA train!
Another shot of the mini-high
Certified insane transit enjoyer?!

The good: It’s Attleboro’s relief station! Or, it would be… It’s also well-lit and in walking distance to Market Basket! At least you have RIPTA and GATRA?

The bad: This station is in a sorry state of affairs! They didn’t bother updating ANYTHING. Signage is decrepit still, there’s no crossover mechanism resulting in limited service, and ESPECIALLY the fact odds are real good this station is rendered obsolete by Attleboro and Pawtucket/Central Falls these days! Never mind that, the bus stop is a literal hike away across the parking lot! There isn’t even a designated safe spot for GATRA to pick people up, so good luck flagging a GATRA bus down, ‘lest you end up like Miles in his efforts to ride the 16 back in the day. It’s also very much NOT conducive to pedestrian access, as the platform is the sidewalk. Eww!

Nearby points of interest: GATRA can bring you to Attleboro’s town center and Emerald Square, while RIPTA can bring you to Pawtucket and Providence!

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Providence)
RIPTA (1, 35)
GATRA (11, 16)

Overall, yeah, no, this is very bad. I think, this takes the cake for “shittiest NEC station I’ve reviewed so far”, and is quite possibly the worst one between Boston and New York. Yeah, sorry but not sorry! The fact it’s also limited service rather than MassDOT funding station replacement is also just bad.

Rating: 3/10

8 (Longwood/Nubian/S. Bay Center/UMASS Boston)

Alrighty, another bus route! This time, we’ll be taking a look at the MBTA’s bus route 8, which runs from Kenmore to UMASS Boston and Harbor Point. So, let’s look at it.

Kenmore!

The route begins at Kenmore’s busway and runs south down Brookline Avenue pretty much immediately, passing Fenway Park and Lansdowne Station. Quickly after, we enter the Longwood Medical Area, passing close to Fenway Station on the D branch (but not directly serving it, as we don’t turn down Park Drive) and pass The Fenway. Wait, THE Fenway?! I thought it was just a park, not a wholeass street! Yeah, that’s right, One Fenway is a street. Of course, this isn’t to be confused with the park. But, that begs the question, what came first, the street or the park?

*does research*

Onwards
The Mass Pike and Lansdowne Station
David Ortiz Drive!
Entering the Medical Area, woah!!!
Simmons University?!
A soccer field
Boston Children’s Hospital
Uh oh…

Huh, looks like the park was named after the street. Okay, then! Anyways, we pass some Simmons University facilities, turn down Longwood Avenue past the Longwood Galleria as we go through the Medical Area. On my ride up to Kenmore, it was HELL. We turned onto Avenue Louis Pasteur. Now, I don’t know who the fuck Louis Pasteur is, but he needs to have a better-designed street named after him. Or, maybe he was an urban planner with a big ego (moreso than Robert Moses?) and he needs to design a better street himself. Who the fuck thought it was a good idea to bunch a shitton of random buses here?! Who let this happen?! Why the fuck is this even a good idea?!?! And the fucking LONGWOOD MEDICAL AREA, OF ALL PLACES!!! I’D EXPECT THIS SHIT DOWNTOWN NEAR HAYMARKET OR STATE STREET, OR EVEN COPLEY! NOT THE LONGWOOD FUCKING MEDICAL AREA!! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! Anyways, I digress. We trudge on down Ruggles Street, interchanging with Huntington Avenue with an E branch connection at Museum of Fine Arts, and soon enough we were at Ruggles. However, unusual, we ran THROUGH Ruggles, stopping at both the upper and the lower busways. Woah! We proceeded and the real pain began.

A bunch of recycle bins
Fenway!
Simmons University and Bluebikes!
Green Line!
Wentworth Institute of Technology!
Ruggles – Upper Busway
Ruggles – Lower Busway
A Commuter Rail train!
Onwards!

We deviated into Nubian Square for even more bus connections, turned up Washington St., and eventually turned down a street to turn right again. Passing by some more apartments and, eventually, the Boston Medical Center, this section was a massive slog. It was SLOW. I mean, it was rush-hour traffic in the South End, I can’t say I’m surprised we ended up 30 minutes late. It’s almost as if median-running bus lanes might have helped a little. I must also reiterate, the 1 also runs through here a bit, as does the 10!!! Of course, after trudging on, we turned into Newmarket Square, passing the Fairmount Line, deviating into the South Bay Center, and we went EVEN FURTHER!!!! But it didn’t feel as painful. We just went down Mass. Ave. for the rest of its length, went onto Columbia Road, and eventually made it to JFK/UMASS’s busway. FINALLY!!!

Construction!
Green space!
Oh christ…
Nubian and the Silver Line!
A graveyard?
Washington St.
THE HEART OF THE COMM-oh, wrong Worcester…
Fucking transphobia…
Parking…
Another building
The Boston Medical Center!
MASS AND CASS?!
Cycling infrastructure, stay tuned for Chelsea vs. cycling (eventually…)
FELLOW LESBIANS RISE UP!!!
D I N E R
Commuter Rail and bus connection.
Industrial wasteland
Is this a policy failiure?
DORCHESTER!!!!!!!!!
The underside of I-93
JFK/UMASS. Red Line, Commuter Rail, and bus connection.
FINALLY!

The route continues on down Mt. Vernon St. towards Harbor Point and turns around in the middle of UMASS Boston’s campus. However, I was tired and wanted to attempt to get the 4:52 PM express home (spoiler: I missed it.), so I ran for the Red Line at JFK/UMASS. The route isn’t anything special, however.

THE MOTHERLAND!!!

The good: In a way, it’s two routes in one: Kenmore-Nubian via the LMA, and Nubian-JFK via the South Bay Center. So, let’s break it down. It largely covers areas not covered by the other Nubian bus routes, including the South End and the South Bay shopping mall, as well as going into UMASS Boston itself rather than turning around at JFK/UMASS. From Kenmore to Nubian, it also serves the Longwood Medical Area and Wentworth, some of which is shared with a variety of other bus routes. However…

The bad: The damn route can become slowed down VERY EASILY by traffic, especially during rush hour! It also gets an insane amount of ridership so, if any route is to become a rail line, I strongly would nominate this one (or at least nominate it for bendy buses and insane amounts of dedicated ROW!). Also, what the fuck is on Louis Pasteur’s avenue?! The headways are also haphazard on weekdays, being literally anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes! Weekend headways are more consistent, at every 45 minutes. Nice.

Nearby points of interest: Fenway Park, the LMA, Nubian Square, a couple of colleges, the Boston Medical Center, and the South Bay Center along with UMASS Boston primarily.

Overall, convert the damn route to a subway line! PLEASE, I’M BEGGING YOU. It’s not a bad route, but it’d make it A LOT BETTER! EVEN THROWING BUS LANES IN THE MEDIAN WOULD HELP A LOT!!!

Rating: 6.5/10

So, who IS Louis Pasteur, anyways? Is he, in fact, an urban planner or something? Is he Boston’s Robert Moses? Well……

*does research*

So apparently he’s not from Boston nor does he have ties to the city. He’s just some random French guy involved with the field of science. Well then…. I guess I absolve him of all accusations of shitty urban planning.

Ashland (MBTA)

Ashland, when coming from Boston, is the first of four infill stations built in the early 21st century on the way to Worcester. It also seen a massive rebuild as of late. So, let’s look at it, shall we?

Helvetica!

The station is your standard Worcester Line infill, bearing many a similarity to Westborough. It’s the closest station to the town’s downtown (Grafton is in no man’s land, Westborough is far from downtown, and Southborough is also pretty far), there’s a MWRTA bus connection, and an ample amount of parking. You also have a standard mini-high platform and a metal overpass. Woah. Downtown is a 1 mile walk away, neat! Benches are also found on the platform, and on the overpass as well. Yeah, I don’t have much specifically to say about this station other than that its mere location makes it the best of the bunch.

Train!
Departure board!
That’s a lot of parking!
HSP!
That’s one hell of an overpass!
Approaching the Main St. crossing
The High St. overpass towards Worcester
That’s a lot of parking!
MWRTA busway?
Where’s the catenary, then??
Another train!

The good: It’s close to the town center, only a mile away (roughly)! Furthermore, it’s the most recently rebuilt out of all the stations as of writing this, so it has modern amenities like a departure board and whatnot.

The bad: The bus connection isn’t exactly frequent, being approximately every hour and a half. Furthermore, the station is only a mini-high. And, why isn’t this in the town center??? Granted, it’s only a mile out so it’s a lot better than certain other offenders, but it’s still annoying.

Nearby points of interest: The town center is close by, be it a 3 minute MWRTA ride or a 20 minute walk! There’s also a nearby apartment complex.

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Worcester)
MWRTA (5)

Overall, for the infills between Framingham and Worcester, this is probably the best one with location and transit connections. So, as such, this gets a higher score.

Rating: 8/10

35 (Forest Hills/Dedham Mall via Belgrade Ave./Centre St.)

Alrighty, so on the day I did this bus route, I was going out to the Dedham Mall to meet up with someone who was working on walking the perimeter of Boston. There were three routes I could’ve taken: the 34, the 34E, and the 35. I’ve already taken the 34E, so my options were the 34 and the 35, and it happened the 35 came first. So, here we go.

A couple of buses at Forest Hills

So, after using a BlueBike to Forest Hills, I boarded the 35 from the upper busway, and eventually we started moving. From here, we turned down Washington St., following a number of other bus routes including the 34E, 36, 37, and 40. All of these routes would eventually diverge. Washington St. and Roslindale Square is not as dense as other parts of the city, but it’s still a major center of activity with shopping and even a Commuter Rail station. Neat! Eventually, continuing down Belgrade Ave., we continued following the 36 and 37 as well as the Needham Line, and eventually most of the bus emptied out along here. In a way, my experience proves a good point as to why the Needham Line should be converted to an Orange Line extension. Don’t get me wrong, I feel an all/nothing approach is probably better anyways, but a split approach (Newton Highlands-Hersey converted to Green Line, Forest Hills-West Roxbury converted to Orange Line, with West Roxbury-Hersey becoming a shuttle trolley) isn’t bad either. I digress. It’s mostly all lined with businesses until reaching the area near LaGrange St. and West Roxbury Station. We turned down and it became a quiet neighborhood, and going further from there, turning down Stimson St., it’s still residential. Eventually, however, we reached Washington St., quickly turned down for a bit, and deviated into the Dedham Mall for the end of the run.

The usual
Housing
Some shops
Some stuff in West Roxbury
Brookline Bank!
Some more stuff in West Roxbury!
And even more! And billboards!
Quiet neighborhood. Suburbia, even.
Woodlands
Still suburbia
Washington Street, finally!
Ugh…
A graveyard
Quiet mall
Bus!
This is fine.

The good: It supplements a few bus routes paralleling the Needham Line, and it gets a bit of ridership! Furthermore, it’s normal in that it shows up every 30-40 minutes (though in the aforementioned area, combined frequencies are higher).

The bad: The bus starts rather late on Sundays, though, and weekday service to the mall doesn’t start until 9 AM-ish…

Nearby points of interest: Centre St. and Belgrade Ave., and the Dedham Mall! Roslindale as well!

Overall, it’s a useful route for what it is, but the run I was on had little ridership to the Dedham Mall itself. But, I think the best fate is converting the Needham Line to an Orange Line extension, and this proves it.

Rating: 6.5/10

Bradford (MBTA)

Bradford is a small neighborhood in the city of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Its station? Among the least-used on the Commuter Rail, it’s located less than half a mile south of the station in downtown Haverhill, on the opposite side of the Merrimack River. And, in contrast to downtown, it’s in a relatively quiet area. Let’s look at it.

Worn-out Helvetica Bold!

It’s your standard accessible station affair, with a long low level platform with a mini-high. A pedestrian crossing exists to change sides, a red dot matrix board is on the inbound platform, and there’s ample lighting. If you’re willing to walk for 10 minutes, you’ll also reach downtown Haverhill. There were condos being constructed, but would they be affordable? I doubt it. On the contrary, there’s also a lot of single family housing nearby, a cafe, MeVa headquarters, and even the Haverhill Line’s layover yard is located here. If you walk, you can also get a nice view of the rail line over the river, which looks like a nice spot to railfan. Neat!

geep
Bye!
The inbound platform
The mini-highs
Parking and the layover yard
Condos and a cafe
Station signage. Could be better.
The Merrimack River
The bridge into downtown Haverhill

The good: It’s in a quiet neighborhood and provides relief for Haverhill Station. Furthermore, there’s parking and a lot of houses nearby, which is nice. It’s also pretty good for pedestrian access as well.

The bad: I guess being a mini-high stinks. Street-level signage could also be better.

Nearby points of interest: Downtown Haverhill. Yeah, sorry.

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Haverhill)

Overall, it’s a pretty nice station (certainly better than the last one I wrote about). However, it doesn’t really have a lot going for it that Haverhill itself doesn’t. Sorry!

Rating: 7/10

North Wilmington (MBTA)

Welcome to the Haverhill Line’s least-used station. So, what does this station have? Well……ugh….

The cab car

First off, North Wilmington is a flag stop on the Haverhill Line, just beyond Reading, but also before the Wildcat junction. This means if the line is bustituted, it’s in a limbo area where there’s no service. This is ironic, given there’s GTFS data for shuttle stops here. Or, there was, until recently. Moving on to the station itself, what’s unique about it? Well, a lot. And, not in a good way.

Train
Geep

This is the only station where regular service requires use of boarding/alighting EXCLUSIVELY from the rear car. YES, I REPEAT, YOU HAVE TO BOARD/ALIGHT FROM THE REARMOST CAR OF THE TRAIN HERE. This is the only station I can think of where this is regular. I mean, I’ve seen it happen on the Fairmount Line too, but that’s offpeak-only! Not all-day! The station is also very inaccessible. Allegedly there were plans to install a mini-high here (or, convert it to one akin to Lynnterim), but that’s gone nowhere to my awareness. There’s also largely nothing around here. Boo. Yeah, this sucks. D: But, there is one saving grace: if the Lowell Line is being worked on (as was the case with Winchester Center) and Amtrak can’t use it, the Downeaster runs down here to reach Haverhill, rather than using the Wildcat Branch and Woburn Station. It also begets a nice (if desolate) railfanning spot.

Unexpected Downeaster!
Cabbage!
Gates!
This is sad.
Oh god.
Maybe parking?
There’s a wastebasket at least?
THEY REALLY WENT THROUGH THE EFFORT TO INSTALL A NEW SIGN?!
Another Downeaster!

The good: …transit-accessible RMV?

The bad: The station’s existence. Why does it exist? Just freakin’ use Wilmington. Granted, it’s useless if you want to get to Haverhill (assuming no schedule changes) or Malden, but if you’re going to Boston then it’s a hell of a lot better. Furthermore, trains are more frequent! Also, why the hell did they go through the trouble of INSTALLING A NEW STATION SIGN?! JUST- AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!! FHIDOASHFIDOPSAHFDIOPAH

Nearby points of interest: Just the RMV, maybe Dunkies.

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Haverhill)

Overall….yk what, yeah, this shithole of a station DESERVES to be shuttered. I genuinely have nothing good to say about it. BANISH TO THE UNDERWORLD! If depression had a Commuter Rail station, this is it.

Rating: 0.5/10

Grafton (MBTA)

Alrighty, for this we’re heading out to the far end of the Worcester Line, almost as far out as the heart of the Commonwealth. However, we’re stopping short of Worcester because I’m holding off for construction to finish out there. So, as a holdover, here’s Grafton.

Graffitied Helvetica!

Unlike half of the Worcester Line, Grafton is located out in the middle of nowhere. I’m not even making this up. There’s genuinely nothing in the station’s walkshed. To demonstrate this, here’s a screenshot of what 15 minutes of walking can get you.

Yep.

The only notable things in there are just an office park and Tufts University’s veterinarian school. Yeah……this station is a prime example of “relatively poor land use” though I do give it credit for being nice and quiet. Anyways, the station itself. It isn’t that noteworthy. You have a footbridge to the inbound platform, a long ramp with benches (what is this, rural Uphams Corner?), and a copious amount of parking. Oh yeah, apparently the WRTA stops here, too. Neat! As a random aside, this general region of Massachusetts also happens to be the birthplace of the EDI (created by an unhinged transit nerd named Ben), which is a measure of how not-straight a land-based transit route is (land-based being anything that isn’t a ferry, car, or airplane). Random fun fact, the B shuttle that runs here has an EDI of 1.32. Neat! Right, station itself. It really isn’t much, being a Worcester Line park and ride. You’ve also got mini-highs (could/should be full-length highs!). Yeah, I got nothing noteworthy to add.

Next stop: Worcester!
The platform
Onwards!
That’s a long ramp.
Closer shot
Parking and busway!
Pine Street!
Towards Worcester!
Bench!
That’s a very long ramp…
Another overpass shot
Back towards Boston!
Birthplace of the EDI! (not really)

The good: The hill’s nice, and it’s pretty quiet being in the middle of nowhere! There’s also a decent amount of parking!

The bad: The WRTA isn’t signed here, and it’s in the middle of nowhere…..yeah, sorry. 🙁

Nearby points of interest: Just Tufts’ veterinarian school and an office park. There really isn’t anything here.

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Worcester)
WRTA (B Shuttle)

Overall, it’s a nice station, it’s unique among a sea of parking lots (somehow), but there just ain’t a lot around the area. Sorry!

Rating: 6.5/10

Middleborough/Lakeville (old) (MBTA/CapeFLYER)

(NOTE: this will be rendered obsolete when the new Middleborough station opens with the South Coast extension. That will be linked when it’s ready.)

Middleborough, Middleborough, Middleborough… What do you have as an end-of-line Commuter Rail station? Well…..

OH LAWD THAT’S A LONG SIGN

This has got to be, quite possibly, one of the longest station names on the entire Commuter Rail system to be printed in Helvetica Bold typeface. Maybe second to “Commuter Rail to Boston” heading Newtonville (is that inbound or outbound?). Well, whatever. The station is pretty standard. You have your shelter, a departure board with all trains signed for Track 1 (duh, there’s only one track), a copious amount of parking, and allegedly a GATRA bus connection. I mean, it exists in timetables and GTFS at least? There’s also some apartments nearby, though not to the same degree as Windsor Gardens. Lastly, there’s also the CapeFLYER during the summer, which if rumors are to be had, this station is expected to be orphaned to CapeFLYER-only status after South Coast Rail opens, and presumably with a rename to not cause confusion with new Middleborough? Maybe rename to “North Lakeville” or something? Location? It’s not really in Middleborough or near the town center. Eww.

The train
Departure board
That’s a lot of parking
Is this necessary?!
There’s even a kiss & ride, and I think GATRA boards here?
Towards Boston
Another sign
Yet another parking picture
I hate photographing these.
An HSP facing towards Hyannis

The good: It’s got some bicycle racks, a lot of parking (maybe too much?), shelters and usual amenities to expect from a standard Commuter Rail station. It’s also got full level boarding (which will be a common theme with this section of the network) so yay.

The bad: It’s kinda in the middle of nowhere, far from anything…

Nearby points of interest: Not a lot. I mean, if you’re willing to walk a bit down a stroad, you have a Shell gas station and a local pizzeria!

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Middleborough)
CapeFLYER
GATRA (Downtown Middleborough Shuttle, Link 4)

Overall, it’s okay. It’s serviceable, but pretty generic and is largely park and ride hell.

Rating: 6/10

Windsor Gardens (MBTA)

My friend Metropolis has been quoted with saying “they put a Commuter Rail station in someone’s backyard” and I followed up with “not once, but twice”. This was in regards to Endicott and Islington. However, what if I told you they did this to an apartment complex as well? Meet: Windsor Gardens.

Helvetica signage!
Apartment complex signage!

Windsor Gardens is an apartment complex located in Norwood, Mass., and has no transit connection aside from the Franklin/Foxboro Line. It is also not very accessible by ADA standards either, which is a big “yikes”. However, as for what the station DOES offer? Well, the station is a big selling point for the apartments here (which are by no means affordable, they start at $2000 a month for a 1 bed! But, there’s amenities included like clubhouses, playgrounds, and the Commuter Rail.), for one. For two, you have a nice creek running through the area. And three, you have a nice little sheltered waiting area on the end of the platform towards Boston. Neat! Overall, it’s actually kinda nice. However…..there is a second illegal entrance people use, which may have been a source of a trespasser strike the day before I came out here… yeah….. if that entrance was legitimate, it’d make a walk to the 34E a lot faster.

F40PH!!!
The backside of the train
What a lovely little creek
I hate photographing these.
They probably bought this shelter from Lowes or Home Depot.
Towards Boston!
The apartment complex!

The good: It’s waist-deep in an apartment complex, and as such is a major selling point! It’s also a flag stop for all trains, being one of two stations to hold that title.

The bad: It’s inaccessible, single-tracked, the secret path that allegedly exists is a safety hazard (someone DIED, allegedly, the day before I came out here), and I can’t help but feel 2 shelters might not be enough. Oh well!

Nearby points of interest: The Commons at Windsor Gardens!

Transit connections:
Commuter Rail (Franklin, Foxboro)

Overall, it’s an adorable little station, but I can’t really give it a high score given it’s major flaws. Yeah, sorry! D:

Rating: 4/10

Plimptonville (MBTA)

Wait, I thought I already did Walpole! Whelp, apparently not, because there’s a shuttered microstation out here. Let’s take a look at it though, shall we?

Plimpton Street

Plimptonville is a small station in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Walpole, Mass., and was named after the Plimpton Iron Works that was near here. Over the years, though, the mill renamed, closed, and the MBTA tried closing the station in the ’80s. However, 20 someodd people protested, and coincidentally that was the station’s ridership at last count before being shuttered. The station was also the least-served station on the T, being only one weekday round trip, weekdays only. Yep. That is sad. The station itself is pretty sad too. You have no parking, a mini-low platform, a light, and a sign saying “PLIMPTONVILLE TRAIN STATION”. You don’t even have a damn sidewalk. Yikes! The Franklin Line is also single-tracked through here, and I’m sure it’s an okay place to railfan both it and CSX. Anyways, yeah, this station sucks so badly, it’s quite possibly the sorriest station on the southside lines. I genuinely cannot think of anything worse. Islington? Nope, that’s got shelter. Newtonville? At least that gets actual service and has connections. Even freakin’ RIVER WORKS is better. Well, there ya have it. Quite possibly the shittiest southside station.

Oh this is bad.
No sidewalk!
Some houses
A cliff
Mini-LOW
Towards Foxboro and Forge Park
And towards Boston
The Neponset River
An overpass

The good: This station’s closed! In theory, the entire station can also be used as a restroom!

The bad: This station has no walkshed. There’s no sidewalks. The Franklin Line is single tracked, the platform can barely handle one door, and there isn’t even any bus service on MA-1A!!! What the FUCK?! There is also no Helvetica Bold signage.

Nearby points of interest: Nothing. No, seriously, there isn’t anything around here.

Transit connections: LMAO.

Overall, yeah, thank god this station is shuttered. There’s nothing here, it sucks, and it’s waist-deep in car-dependent suburbia. Just drive to Walpole!

Rating: (π-3)/10