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

Penn Station-New York (Amtrak/NYCMTA/NJ Transit)

Obligatory Hell’s Gate Bridge shot!

Penn Station?! Wait, you mean, THE Penn Station?! Penn Sta.-NEW YORK?! Oh yes! Penn Station-New York! Penn Station is, simply put, THE BUSIEST STATION IN ALL OF NORTH AMERICA. Well, there’s a lot to cover here, so buckle up and hold on for dear life!

The station signage and an NJT train!

Alrighty, so there’s a lot to cover, and I’ll be starting from the Amtrak, NJT, and LIRR platforms. The platforms are TINY, to put it lightly! They’re well-lit though, so there’s that, and there’s escalators going straight up. One end will bring you to the old Amtrak concourse (near where the LIRR and NJT concourses are), while the other end will bring you to Moynihan Train Hall. I’ll touch on that later. Going up the escalator to the concourse, it’s……..bad. Uh oh…

Oh dear god…

I didn’t opt to get many pictures of the old concourse because it was just bad, but rest assured that I was immensely overwhelmed by the low-hanging tight corridors. However, it gets better (I mean this in a genuine manner), as my next stop was the LIRR concourse. And, HOLY SHIT THIS IS AMAZING! This is actually quite nice, and dare I say modern, if I say so myself. You have shopping, an LIRR customer service booth, ticketing machines, a waiting area, a LOT of retail spaces, and entrances to the 7th Ave. Line on the MTA subway. Directly above is Madison Square Garden as well, as a fun aside. Neat! From here, I proceeded towards the NJT concourse. It’s an alright area, though it’s an absolute labyrinth still. Eventually, I reached it, it looked standard with departure boards and there was even a waiting area. I presume there’s also a ticket booth and machines here as well. I then pressed on further to another concourse, presumably for Amtrak. This concourse was also huge, quite open, and was largely similar to the LIRR concourse. It’s here that the 8th Ave. Line can be accessed from within the station, and that was my next stop before heading outside. However, before then, I’ll cover Moynihan.

MTA Police booth and LIRR waiting area
Woah. THIS IS NICE!
The LIRR concourse
Some NJT stuff and wayfinding!
Some more of the LIRR concourse
The NJT concourse
The NJT waiting area
An itty bitty Amtrak departure board
Amtrak waiting area in one of the concourses
Northbound local tracks for the C and E routes
The 8th Ave. Line and wayfinding

So, chronologically, I checked out the 8th Ave. Line’s station, walked to Moynihan on the streets, then did the 7th Ave. Line’s station, however I’m saving the subway stations for the end. So, I got out and walked the streets of NYC and it was VERY IMPOSING. Like, I felt SMALL among the skyscraper canyon. I must also note the headhouse I came out of looked pretty freakin’ cool, too. I digress, though, as I ventured out towards Moynihan one block over because I kept getting lost in the many concourses underground. Yikes. The walk wasn’t too bad though, in spite of the cold weather. Eventually, I did make it to Moynihan though, so there’s that!

Subway signage
Well, this is actually kinda nice!
This felt very imposing
This, even moreso. (this became my lock screen picture!)
Another subway headhouse. But, just call it “Penn Station” rather than “34th St.-Penn Station”, though! And where’s the 8th Ave. Line?!
BUS connection.
I spy Moynihan…
Another subway headhouse
HOLY FUCKING SHIT, IT’S MADISON SQUARE GARDEN!
MOYNIHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!
CitiBikes, even though they’re a death trap around here…
Some high rises
HERE’S YOUR DAMN FLIXLOT!

Alrighty, Moynihan. It’s alright. It’s actually very beautiful visually. However, there’s one major glaring flaw. The Amtrak facilities are located here (this is the official Amtrak area!), as is quite a bit of shopping and restaurants. However, there’s two, actually, glaring flaws. First, WHERE THE FUCK IS THE SEATING?! HOW DO YOU EXPECT PEOPLE TO WAIT HERE WHEN THE TICKETED WAITING AREA FILLS UP FAST AND THERE’S NO BENCHES IN THE MAIN CONCOURSE HERE?! WHAT THE FUCK, AMTRAK?! Second, the boarding procedures. You can circumvent them using the old concourse, but THAT SHOULDN’T EVEN BE A THING. TO BOARD YOUR TRAIN, EVERYBODY HAS TO LINE UP AT AN ESCALATOR, HAVE THEIR TICKET SCANNED BEFORE GOING DOWN, BOARD THEIR TRAIN, AND THEN HAVE THEIR TICKET SCANNED AGAIN AFTER THE TRAIN IS DEPARTED. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THIS BULLSHIT?! AND THEN FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND ON THE MAPLE LEAF, THEY STILL HAVE TO CHECK YOUR ID AT THE BORDER ANYWAYS. FUCK YOU, AMERICAN BORDER PROTECTION AND YOUR ARCANE PRACTICES. (do note this is mainly an issue with the Maple Leaf and Adirondack, and is not applicable to anything else, and it probably boils to State Department bullshit than DOT bullshit) FUCK YOU AMTRAK FOR THINKING YOU’RE AN AIRLINE. AND FUCK YOU TO WHOEVER STRIPPED BENCHES FROM MOYNIHAN! Anyhow, now to do the subway stations!

The entry from 34th St. & 8th Ave.
MOYNIHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!!! But, where’s the seating?!
Amtrak’s waiting area
Some businesses and the LIRR departure board
Some more LIRR stuff

The subway stations are pretty bogstandard. Like, they’re your average underground station with either 2x islands or 2x sides+island setup serving local and express trains. There’s really not a lot to talk about here, in all honesty. You have faregates, MetroCard machines (no OMNY? Really?), and a MTA TPD presence as well. And, with that, finishes up the busiest station in all of North America.

8th Ave. Line!
I. HATE. THESE.
I got my MetroCard here!
8th Ave. E route!
help what does this translate to ;(
An R….oh fuck what’s this
34TH STREET PENN STATION
The other station’s fare control!
TO PENNA R.R. STATION
the fuck is an uptown
Modern station signage!
THERE IS A. DOWNTOWN. EXPRESS. THREE. TRAIN TO. FLATBUSH AVENUE. APPROACHING THE STATION PLEASE STAND AWAY FROM THE PLATFORM EDGE.
#2 7th Ave. Line!

The good: The station is HUGE and is very major. Like, it’s the busiest station in the country! There’s a lot of retail as well, and is the central hub for NJT and one of the LIRR’s major termini (alongside Grand Central, Atlantic Terminal, and Jamaica). It’s also located in the heart of Manhattan, so there’s that. And, furthermore, there really is no excuse to drive into this station when transit connections are probably the strongest in the country here.

The bad: THERE’S NO FUCKING SEATING IN THE MOYNIHAN TRAIN HALL! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK WERE THEY SMOKING?! ALSO, WOULD IT HAVE KILLED THEM TO HAVE A MAP WITH “YOU ARE HERE” IN THE CONCOURSES BELOW?! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Nearby points of interest: Madison Square Garden! You also have Hudson Yards, Times Square, Chelsea Park, the Empire State Building, and many other things as well.

Transit connections:
Amtrak (Acela, Regional, Adirondack, Berkshire Flyer, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Palmetto, Pennsylvanian, Silver Services)
LIRR (Port Washington, Hempstead, Port Jefferson, Oyster Bay, Ronkonkoma, Montauk, Far Rockaway, Babylon, West Hempstead, Long Beach)
NJ Transit (Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Montclair-Boonton, Morristown, Raritan Valley, Gladstone)
7th Ave. (1, 2,3)
8th Ave. (A, C, E)
MTA bus (M7, M20, M34 SBS, M34A SBS, SIM23, SIM24, Q32)

Overall, Penn Station is the busiest station in the country and all of North America. I don’t think I’ve done it enough justice in this entry (as with Grand Central there…), however, for being the largest station in North America, it surprisingly sucks. Idk, maybe I’m holding it to too high a standard, but it just….idk. Bleh. But, as much as I hate to do it for the busiest station in North America, I can’t really give it a 10/10 like I was hoping to. Sorry, New Yorkers. It’s a good station overall, but there’s no way it’s a 10/10 as there’s major flaws.

Rating: 8.5/10

Grand Central Terminal (NYCMTA)

Grand Central Terminal was built in 1913 by the New York Central Railroad, at the intersection of 42nd St. and Park Avenue in central Manhattan, New York City. The station is largely timeless and iconic in American culture, to the point where “Meet me at the clock” is synonymous with Grand Central. In the present day, it’s the terminus of Metro-North’s East of Hudson ops. In 2023 (a year ago as of writing this!), the MTA built East Side Access which brought the LIRR about 20 stories beneath Grand Central into a new concourse called “Grand Central Madison”. However, I’m just referring to the whole station (MNRR, LIRR, and subway) as “Grand Central Terminal”. With that out of the way, I present: GRAND! CENTRAL ! TERMINAL!!!!!!!

Station signage at the Flushing Line platform

So, starting off the station review at the Flushing Line platform, the platforms are largely normal, being an island configuration. You, of course, have benches and wastebaskest, usual stuff. The Lexington Ave. Line’s platforms are above the Flushing Line’s, and is the same deal, just with two islands and 4 tracks instead. From there, a very long concourse connects the two platforms over to the shuttle platform for Times Square service, and heading out through the concourses, it can get quite crowded. Bleh.

This was at Times Square, but it’s still a Flushing Line train no less.
Oh HELL NO, crowded concourse!
Mosaic at the Lexington Ave. line’s platform
An R62A
A veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery long concourse
The shuttle platform
Finally, out of the subway station!

Entering the concourses from here, there’s entrances to Summit, TD Bank, and various other things, and at this point I got lost and just exited the station. So, off to the streets of Park Ave. and eventually back into Grand Central! Eventually, I reentered by where the shuttle exit is, and into Grand Central! WOOO!!! From here, I decided to check out the NYC Transit Museum, which was pretty cool, and then commence the full review of Grand Central’s headhouse. It was AMAZING!!! It’s so huge too! There’s shopping everywhere around the station, as if it’s a shopping mall in of itself. There’s a Metro-North ticket office in the center of the concourse, along with the famous clock and departure boards. There’s many other concourses here that are lined with many, many shops and behind the departure boards are the upper level Metro-North tracks. Neat! There’s even an Apple Store exclusive to the upper level! The lower level of Grand Central’s non-LIRR section has the dining concourse and even more tracks. Grand Central North is also pretty average and is much like the rest of the station.

The station headhouse. This is GORGEOUS!
The MetLife Building!
The entrance by Vanderbilt Ave.!
The Transit Museum
The Metro-North tracks
The main concourse. This is HUGE!
NEXT STOP MELROSE, THE NEXT STOP ON THIS TRAIN IS MELROSE! THE DESTINATION IS NORTH WHITE PLAINS.
The Apple Store!
Shopping!
Even more shopping!
…wayfinding?
Grand Central Market!
The dining concourse!

Moving on to the LIRR concourse. It’s alright. I mean, it’s clean for what it is, and there’s amenities down there. Among them are your usual restrooms, ticketing office, waiting area, and 4 sets of tracks (tracks 201-204 and 301-304). However, where’s the seating at the tracks and in the concourse itself? Furthermore, the hike down to track level is REALLY REALLY LONG. LIKE, PERHAPS EVEN LONGER THAN PORTER SQUARE. YIKES! But overall, the concourse is alright, there’s signs that Andrew Cuomo was involved (if it says “EXCELSIOR!” it was probably Cuomo!), and there’s art in a couple of places.

The entryway into the LIRR concourse
A concourse
The main LIRR concourse
Departures. Actually very small vs. in MNRR’s concourse
An M9!
Towards limbo!
Boooooo….

The good: The LIRR concourse is brand spankin’ new! Furthermore, the station is just outright gorgeous and is probably a 10/10 in appearances alone. The subway station is pretty good as well, even if the MTA prioritizes function over form. Metro-North also frequently departs from here and, at rush hour, it can get REALLY BUSY. Then again, this is also the THIRD BUSIEST STATION IN THE ENTIRE FREAKIN’ COUNTRY. YES, IT’S THAT MAJOR A STATION.

The bad: The LIRR concourse is a mile deep! It’s also a little easy to get lost… But, surely, it can’t get worse, right? Right??????

Nearby points of interest: The station itself! Bryant Park is nearby, and you have LITERALLY ALL OF EAST-OF-HUDSON METRO-NORTH AND MOST ELECTRIC LIRR TERRITORY. The Lexington Ave. Line runs here with the #s 4-6 routes running through as well, and the Flushing Line’s #7 route to Hudson Yards and, well, Flushing. There’s also many a local and express bus connection as well to the other boroughs.

Transit connections:
Metro-North (Harlem, Hudson, New Haven, New Canaan, Danbury)
LIRR (Port Washington, Hempstead, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, Far Rockaway, Babylon, West Hempstead, Long Beach)
42nd St. Shuttle
Flushing (7)
Lexington Ave. (4, 5, 6)
MTA bus (M1, M2, M3, M4, M42, M101, M102, M103, Q32, BxM1, BxM3, BxM4, BxM6, BxM7, BxM8, BxM9, BxM10, BxM11, BxM18, BM1, BM2, BM3, BM4, BM5, QM21, QM31, QM32, QM34, QM35, QM36, QM40, QM42, QM44, SIM4C, SIM6, SIM8, SIM8X, SIM11, SIM22, SIM23, SIM24, SIM26, X27, X28, X34, X38, X63, X64, X68)

Overall, I really like Grand Central. It’s easily got to be the most gorgeous station I’ve reviewed thus far, and is probably a contender for “most beautiful stations I’ll ever visit”. Will anything beat it? I doubt it. Nevertheless, even the LIRR area is beautiful despite its flaws. And with that, that concludes the review of the 3rd busiest station in North America. I mean, it’s a great station, but a part of me feels like I can’t do it enough justice…

Rating: 10/10

96th St. (Line #6)

Next stop on the subway, I decided to deviate to 96th Street-Lexington Avenue. Now, some people will question my sanity and ask “why 96th?” to which I just simply say, “The Google Maps picture looked cool and I wanted to check it out.” I know, lame excuse. But, whatever. Without further ado, here’s 96th Street Station.

Yet another standard sign. Bleh.
NOW THIS IS MORE LIKE IT!

96th St. is your standard local station with two sides. In the case of the Lexington Ave. Line, the express tracks are underneath the local tracks, so you won’t really get any express action. The station’s largely standard. On the wall, there’s a mosaic that reads “96TH STREET”, presumably original to the station, and there’s stairs up to the mezzanine. In the mezzanine is an area dubbed “the balcony” where you can look down onto the tracks. Quite truthfully, it’s kinda cool and I’ve yet to find any other station like it. Going up into the mezzanine, you have benches, the windows looking down onto the tracks, the faregates, and MetroCard machines. There are no elevators, and the station isn’t accessible, sadly. For accessibility, one would have to utilize bus connections, namely the M101 or M102 from Harlem-125th.

A Bombardier R62A on the #6 Lexington Ave. Line
Looking south towards the city center!
And north towards the Bronx!
The stairs up
Looking down to track level
Another train!
BUS connection.
The headhouse! Look, Brookie, a Starbies!

The good: It serves the local neighborhood, and it has some standout qualities, namely the window overlooking the platform! It’s also served 24/7 (as is most of the subway network).

The bad: It’s not accessible, and one would have to change for a bus at Harlem-125th for accessibility…

Nearby points of interest: It’s on the edge of the Carnegie Hill neighborhood, and there’s an Islamic cultural center halfway between here and the Q route’s 96th St. station. And, for the railfans out there, Metro-North’s portal at 97th St. is nearby as well. Neat!

Transit connections:
Lexington Ave. (6)
MTA bus (M96, M101, M102, M103)

Overall, it’s a passable station. In the grand scheme of things, it’s about average with little special going for it. Sorry! But at least it’s not dogshit though!

Rating: 6.5/10

Harlem-125th St. (NYCMTA)

Alrighty, Harlem-125th Street! So, while technically this entry is two stations (Harlem-125th on Metro-North, the penultimate stop before Grand Central, and 125th St.-Lexington Ave.), I’m counting them as one and the same on the basis of proximity. They’re pretty much on the same block, and if phase 2 of the 2nd Ave. extension ever comes to fruition, proposals call for the Lexington Ave. stop to connect Lexington Ave.-125th and the Metro-North station physically anyways. So, with that out of the way, here’s the penultimate Metro-North station before Grand Central, and another MTA subway stop.

Subway station signage
Metro-North signage

The subway station is pretty bogstandard with little noteworthiness. You have the usual benches, wastebaskets, and a mezzanine which was relatively crowded. Outside of that, you also have elevators and your stereotypical NYC subway station headhouse reminiscent of Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That, actually, probably was inspired by NYC, if anything. The platform setup are an upper and lower level, with the lower level being for southbound trains, and the upper level for northbounds. Above that is the mezzanine with fare control. Pretty normal to me.

Downstairs for the #s 4-6 Lexington Ave. Line southbound
The tracks looking northbound
And looking southbound!
THERE IS A. LOCAL. SIX. TRAIN TO. PARKCHESTER. APPROACHING THE STATION PLEASE STAND AWAY FROM THE PLATFORM EDGE.
The mezzanine!
The elevator!
The RFK Bridge from afar!
Southbound down Lexington Ave.!

So, walking a block over brings one to Harlem-125th St. on Metro-North. The station’s a vibe, honestly, sitting underneath the Park Ave. viaduct. Well, I should describe better. The headhouse is directly underneath the Park Ave. viaduct and is quite the vibe. It feels a little dingy, yet as soon as you go in, it changes drastically. The place, oddly enough, also feels like a time capsule in a way. The waiting area was a bit busy, unsurprisingly given it’s Harlem’s commuter rail station. Furthermore, there’s ticket machines, a ticket office, elevators up to the platforms, and even restrooms! Neat! Going up to the platforms is your standard pair of islands, where there’s also exits straight to 125th St. Heated waiting areas can be found up here too, but they weren’t in use. There’s also modern destination boards similar to those in Port Chester and other stations (I’ve only seen them at Port Chester and in Tremont). Honestly, I like this station, it’s quite the vibe and it’s nice, all things considered, even if 125th St. and Lexington/Park Ave.’s isn’t the best of areas.

The viaduct from afar
Okay, that viaduct actually looks nice with the art.
Entrances bypassing the headhouse – presumably intended for after-hours
Vintage wood!
Departure board!
Okay, this is an old time-y vibe and I LOVE it. It’s also surprisingly well-lit!
Halfway up the stairs
The area halfway up
Track level, towards Grand Central
And towards Poughkeepsie, Wassaic, New Canaan, Danbury, Waterbury, and New Haven
The long urban canyon…
Heated waiting area!
An M7A!
And an M8 passing the M7A!
BUS connection.
NOT IN SERVICE
And onwards to Fordham, I go!

The good: The station’s honestly a vibe for Metro-North! Like, I honestly dig the old-school headhouse style and the fact the station’s on a viaduct. The area’s also pretty dense, and the subway station serves both express and local trains towards the Bronx. The M60 towards LaGuardia also stops here. Nice!

The bad: The subway station feels a little dingy, but that’s seemingly normal. Oh well! The subway to MNRR transfer can also kinda suck if the weather’s bad, too…

Nearby points of interest: You have some shops and parks nearby, along with the Harlem River!

Transit connections:
Metro-North (Hudson, Harlem, New Canaan, Danbury, New Haven)
Lexington Ave. (4, 5, 6, 6X)
MTA bus (M35, M60-SBS, M98, M101, M103, M125)

Overall, I really like the Metro-North station, having a lot of charm with the vintage interior and being elevated. It’s probably a personal favorite, if anything. However, the subway connection is average with nothing much to be said. It’s passable and accessible, though!

Rating: 8/10

Fordham Rd. (Line #4)

Alrighty, so when I came to NYC, I figured I’d have enough time to get a head start on the MTA subway network, and since I was doing Fordham (Metro-North), I figured to myself “why not do the Lexington Ave. or 6th Ave. line stops?” Well, I’ve decided on the Lexington Ave. Line stop. So, with that in mind, let’s start the MTA subway network, shall we?

Fordham Road.

Alrighty, so the platform is pretty bogstandard that one would expect. You have benches, wastebaskets, and a decently sized sheltered waiting area. The track configuration is a little unusual though, being triple tracked rather than double, however there’s a reason. This section of the system (presumably) used to host express service, and the middle track would be used for said express service. When I came here, there was trackwork on the northbound local track so all northbound Lexington trains were sent down the express, bypassing everything. And, honestly, riding through here express was AMAZING. IT WAS AT FULL SPEED, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyhow, I digress. The station is pretty normal, you have seating, benches, countdown clocks, stairs, and elevators down to the mezzanine. In the mezzanine, you have your standard faregates (which are turnstiles and not the fold-out gates that the MBTA uses!), Metrocard ticket machines, an OMNY ticket machine, and even a station agent. Neat! Bus connections can be found at street level on Jerome Avenue and Fordham Road. It’s got some charm being an elevated viaduct, but is otherwise normal.

The northbound “uptown” platform was being bypassed today.
Looking south
I think this is an R142? Maybe an R188? An R143? An R160? They look indistinguishable! D:
Express subway car?!
Bye!!!!!
I do believe I can see 183rd St. down there…
I saw fare evasion happen with the emergency exit…
Accessibility!
Exit to Fordham Rd. and +SBS!
The mezzanine!
The Bx32!
The headhouse from street level!

The good: It’s in a populated area and is pretty damn close to a major shopping area! The #4 Lexington Ave. Line is frequent enough, being about every 10 minutes. The Bx32 is also relatively frequent for bus connections, so there’s that as well. There’s also an on-foot transfer to the station on Grand Concourse as well, but I didn’t cover that one. Sorry! Oh yeah, there’s also an OMNY vending machine here!

The bad: It can get kinda cold, and I have a hunch that things can get busy during rush hour……. It can also be a little unsafe if you’re stupid. Also, I was told that throwing gang signs around here isn’t smart, so uhhhh, don’t do that. (that should be common sense anyways)

Nearby points of interest: The many, many shops of Fordham Rd.!

Transit connections:
Lexington Ave. (4)
MTA bus (Bx12, Bx12-SBS, Bx32)

Overall, for a first station entry on the MTA subway, it’s alright. It’s got some charm being an elevated station, and I actually look forward to doing more station entries on the MTA subway. So, stay tuned in the future! 😀

Rating: 6.5/10

Oh yeah, I bought an OMNY card!

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.

Fordham (Metro-North)

OH SHIT, WE’RE IN NEW YORK CITY?! Yes! We’re in NYC! And I’ll be doing not one but SEVERAL station entries on stuff in NYC. Because I’m working my way south down into the core of Manhattan Island (henceforth simply Manhattan), I’ll be starting with Fordham (even though this was in the early afternoon and I did four stations before this chronologically). So, with that out of the way, welcome to the Bronx!

Station sign – in BLUE?!

The station is located on its namesake road (Fordham Rd.), and is also named Fordham-East 190th St. on timetables. However, nobody mentions East 190th St. when mentioning this station, not even Metro-North on station signage, so it’s just gonna be “Fordham” for this entry. Naming is gonna get a little messy for NYC, so there’s gonna be an entry about that too. Stay tuned. Anyways, I digress. I walked from Fordham Rd. station (the one at the intersection of Jerome Ave., not at Grand Concourse) and got lunch before coming here, and the area’s pretty freakin’ dense. You have shopping plazas everywhere and in general, it’s just so damn lively. I vibe with it, honestly. You also have Fordham University next door as well. Outside are some BlueBi- oh, they’re called Citibikes here? Sorry, force of habit. Outside are CitiBikes, bus connections to both the MTA bus network and Bee-Line’s 62. In fact, there’s even signage pointing to the “Bronx Zoo Bus” (the Bx9 to West Farms Square)

Some shopping on the Grand Concourse!
Some more shopping on E. Fordham Rd.!
Bendy bus!
Fordham Plaza
Not BlueBikes, but rather CitiBikes!
Wayfinding!
And even MORE shopping!

Anyways, the station itself! The station has a historic headhouse that’s still intact, has a small indoor waiting area with ticket office, vending machines, and ticket machines. There’s also exits to the platform directly from outside. The platforms are also pretty standard, but they go REALLY FAR. Or, at least, they feel very long. In reality, they’re 800ft long like your standard MBTA full high-level platform. There isn’t really much in the way of heated waiting areas down here, but why would you need that when the station headhouse is open? Elevators, of course, also exist for accessibility. Yay! This is actually pretty freakin’ good. I must admit, though, I find it amusing the inbound platform’s signage reads “To New York” as if the Bronx isn’t New York.

Express train!
That’s a rather long tunnel…
The platform
The headhouse from track level
The interior of the headhouse
The headhouse from street level

The good: It’s in the middle of the freakin’ Bronx! It has all the amenities one would reasonably need (maybe aside from restroom? I didn’t see one…). Furthermore, it’s around a lot of shopping and is next door to Fordham University. Neat! There’s also plenty of bus connections to both Bee-Line and the MTA, and even Select Bus.

The bad: The platforms underneath the headhouse can feel a little dingy… Also, the hike to the subway stations on Grand Concourse and Jerome Ave. can be a bit annoying at times. I also didn’t notice any bus shelters for the bus connections. Boooooo.

Nearby points of interest: There’s a lot of shopping nearby, along with Fordham University! The New York Botanical Garden is also close by, however there’s a stop closer to that.

Transit connections:
Metro-North (Harlem, New Haven)
MTA bus (Bx9, Bx12, Bx12-SBS, Bx15, Bx17, Bx22, Bx41, Bx41-SBS)
Bee-Line (60, 61, 62)

Overall, it’s a really good station in all honesty. Sure, some things could use better signage, but all things considered it’s not bad, and it’s good that I started the NYC section of this blog on a good note. 😀 I also dig the vintage headhouse interior as well.

Rating: 7.5/10