Sunday, March 1, 2015

Airport

Being a Red Line user, the Silver Line is the much more efficient way of getting to the airport for me. But for Blue, Orange, and Green Line (before Government Center was closed) users, Airport Station is more direct. And most tourists would probably use the station too. Luckily for them, this place is fantastic.

Just look at this platform! It's beautiful!
I love the platform - the whole thing is sheltered. Not only that, but the ceiling is really high. It's very well lit, with lots of natural light getting in (the line is above ground here). There's lots of historical information lining the walls, and quite a few benches, too. Things seem to end up in the rafters a lot, though.

The center of the platform.
In the center of the platform, the ceilings get very high to accommodate two footbridges. They go between the main mezzanine and the Bremen Street entrance - one within fare control and one outside. This center portion has some really high windows, which have some cool artwork on them. And we can't forget about how Blue Line trains switch power at Airport!

The beautiful main mezzanine.
The main mezzanine is huge. It has a bunch of fare gates, anticipating huge crowds. Aside from schedules for every bus route on the system, there's also a handy-dandy board showing departures to and arrivals from the airport. It does have an abundance of airline ads, but there are also these really cool payphones that look like rocket capsules about to take off. Also, there are some really random brochures. Why is there a brochure for Toronto at Boston's airport?

The busway.
The busway where the airport shuttle buses pick up is pretty simple. It's a simple shelter running down the length of a sidewalk. There are some benches along it, too. The busway has a second lane, which is unsheltered and only meant for buses dropping people off. Airport Station is also served by the early-morning 171 bus, and once they build the Silver Line to Chelsea, that will be stopping here, too.

The much smaller Bremen Street mezzanine.
The station's second entrance is on the other side. Its mezzanine is much less grand than the main one, with only two fare gates. That's not to say it's dirty or ugly, though. Indeed, this whole station is really modern and clean. The Bremen Street entrance probably doesn't get as much use, though, so only two fare gates are necessary.

It's so big!
The station looks really big if you look at it from the Bremen Street side. This entrance leads to a pedestrian path that goes over and under two highways, and into a nice-looking park. This then goes to a residential neighborhood, though unfortunately there's no T symbol outside the park.

You can see the portal in the background.
Station: Airport

Ridership: As you might expect, this station gets pretty high ridership for the Blue Line. Its 7,429 daily riders make it the second-busiest non-transfer Blue Line station. And not all these people are going to the airport - there are also residents of nearby neighborhoods who use this station.

Pros: I mean, I just love everything about this station. It's all sheltered, it's beautiful, and the mezzanine has some fantastic amenities. It's annoying that you have to take a shuttle bus to get to the airport itself, but imagine how expensive it would be to give the airport direct train service. The shuttle buses run pretty frequently, anyway, and this is the most direct link for those who use the Blue, Green, and Orange Lines.

Cons: I just wish there was a T logo on Bremen Street. How expensive can it be to put simple signs up?

Nearby and Noteworthy: The airport, I guess. There are some businesses along nearby Bennington Street, too.

Final Verdict: 9/10
Airport Station is beautiful. I love all the station's aesthetics, and it has some great amenities in the main mezzanine. Something I didn't mention was the elevator in the mezzanine that was double the size of a normal elevator, which was amazing to discover! I just wish there was a sign on Bremen Street, but I guess you can't have everything. Even though a sign wouldn't be too hard to install!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
An increase in schoolwork recently means I won't be able to post nearly as much as I was doing before. I'll probably be able to one or two posts a week, hopefully. Sorry, everyone.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Random Photos (Videos): Blue Line Train Switching Power

A Blue Line train switching from third rail to pantograph power at Airport Station. It was a lot less exciting than I thought it would be... If the video below doesn't load, watch it here.

video

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Random Photos: Balloon in the Rafters

Okay, what is it with things getting stuck in the roof at Airport Station? First it was a squirrel, now this:

It wasn't a happy Valentine's Day for whomever lost the balloon...

Service Change: Logan Airport Shuttle - Route 33

Massport runs a few free shuttle bus routes within Logan Airport (for the full list, click here). The one I took was the 33, which goes from Terminals C and E to the Blue Line Airport Station. The bus itself was really nice - it was pretty much the same as the Back Bay Logan Express, except articulated. So basically, 2 times cooler.

I took it from Terminal E, and the route was quite simple. Leaving the terminal, we passed a gas station, then headed down Service Road. We went by some industrial buildings, and arrived at the station busway shortly thereafter. So, yeah, there wasn't much to talk about... review of Airport Station coming soon!

Blurry...
The inside.
Looking up towards the front.
I had to get a bus inception picture, but this one is terrible!
The bus, presumably going back to the terminals.
They even have countdown clocks! This one's at the Blue Line station.
A better picture of one of the buses.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Service Change: Back Bay Logan Express

Recently, Massport began running a bus route from the Hynes Convention Center and Copley Square to Logan Airport. It's free if you have a CharlieCard, but if you lack one (presumably like most people who would use this bus), it costs five dollars one way. Is it worth the cost? Well, not if you take it during rush hour...

The sign at Hynes.
That sliding front door is amazing!
The front of the bus.
I got on at the Hynes Convention Center (note that it leaves from the convention center, not the Green Line station). The service runs every 20 minutes, which is a pretty good headway. After waiting on one bus for a few minutes, they transferred everyone to another one (for some reason) and soon we were off.

The inside was very swanky. The seats were mostly sideways-facing (boo!), but there were some forward-facing ones in the back. There was a luggage rack, as well as a screen up front that said the date, time, and next stop. An automatic announcer said the names of the stops, and he sounded really soothing. "Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride" was a nice touch. But if I had actually been trying to catch a flight, this ride would've been anything but enjoyable.

I love it!
The ads were all airport-related stuff.
No room for an "A" to properly abbreviate "station."
Not a good time to go to the airport, evidently.
We headed down Boylston Street, going by lots of businesses and apartments. The Boston Public Library signified that we were in Copley Square, and a few more people got on here. We then turned onto Clarendon Street, and then onto Saint James Ave, now heading westward. After that, we merged onto I-90 - away from the airport!

Yes, the reason the ride took so long is that the bus goes down I-90 all the way out to Allston, then turns around and heads back toward the airport. Although this is more or less the most efficient route coming back from the airport, there are more direct ways to get to the airport from Copley Square. Regardless, this is what the bus does, so we were stuck with it.

Leaving the I-90 tunnel through Copley Square, we passed Fenway Park and B.U., then got a nice view when the highway went elevated. We then used a handy-dandy turnaround road to go back eastward, and headed back the way we came.

Assorted buildings.
The Boston skyline!
This is where we hit traffic. It took forever just to get back to where we started, and we still had to get to the airport! Coming out of the Copley Square tunnel on the eastern side, we soon entered another tunnel, the Ted Williams. After about 50 million hours of sitting in traffic, the eventual spotting of daylight certainly lifted my spirits.

We came out onto an elevated road, which made a tight 180 degree turn around, and we soon entered Terminal A. From there, we went through the Terminal B parking garage, as well as through Terminal C, and I got off at Terminal E. Looking at the bus, it now had nothing on the destination board - perhaps it was going to go around the airport again to pick people up. I do know that the trip is scheduled to take 20 minutes, but for me, it took 50. I'd take the Silver Line anyday (though actually, that would've gotten stuck in the same Ted Williams Tunnel traffic jam).

I see planes and automobiles, but no trains.

Yawkey

This station's kinda weird. Tucked away behind a parking lot on Brookline Ave, Yawkey was originally opened just for ball games. It was even more hidden then, with only a tiny mini-high platform. The station began to be served regularly by peak-hour trains in 2001. Last year, a brand new Yawkey Station was opened with high-level platforms, and now all trains stop there. Does the station seem all that modern, though? Let's take a look.

Looking at the station from the parking lot.
I think the parking lot next to the station is an all-purpose lot most times and a Fenway Park lot game days. It's kind of cool in that it has a bunch of big numbers in it - I believe they represent different Red Sox players. There's a T logo visible from the parking lot, but none on Brookline Ave, for some reason.

The second entrance from Beacon Street.
Does Yawkey want to be a "hidden gem" or something? Because it does not want to let people know it exists. The entrances on Beacon Street are simple staircases leading down to each platform. Their only indication that they lead to a train station is this tiny black sign that says "Yawkey." Good advertising, MBTA.

At least they thought to put some T logos up on the platform.
The station has an interesting layout, with two side platforms facing the same direction. These are connected by a big overpass, which will also connect to a development once it's built (the station will also be entirely solar-powered when the development is finished). As for the platform itself, it's mostly open air, with a sheltered portion near the overpass. The shelter is really stark and bland, though.

Ugh.
Ditto for the overpass. There's a lot of steel and concrete everywhere that doesn't do the station any favors aesthetically. There are two elevators for each platform, which is more than enough based on this station's ridership. That said, the ridership is expected to increase when the development opens up.

Nice view from the overpass. No train pictures, unfortunately.
Station: Yawkey

Ridership: Well, the Blue Book isn't much use because it only counts inbound riders (21, if you were wondering). Yawkey's Wikipedia page says the station had 585 daily riders in 2007, but that doesn't mean much now that it's 2015. Anyway, regular commuters here are usually headed for Kenmore, B.U., or the Longwood Medical Area.

Pros: It's nice that there's a station for commuters to the above locations. And this is a good option for people out west coming into Boston to see a baseball game. Yawkey is fully accessible with the renovation.

Cons: It's so bland, though! I would never guess that this station is brand new! And while the Beacon Street entrance isn't so bad since you can clearly see the station from there, Brookline Ave really needs some signage. This station is tucked away otherwise.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Fenway Park, and lots of bars and sports-related restaurants..

Final Verdict: 5/10
This is definitely a useful station, and it's great that it's here. But Yawkey has a lot of issues in terms of signage and aesthetics. It's so hard to find! And so boring and stark! Maybe it'll look better when they build that development? We'll see...

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

Chestnut Hill

Too much to review, too little time. I have a non-MBTA bus to write about, and that'll certainly come out at some point, but I figured I'd get a few stations done first. Since I just reviewed the 60, here's Chestnut Hill, the closest station to that bus. And being a D Line station, it's pretty nice.

That wastebasket is convenient.
Chestnut Hill has two entrances. The first and more obvious one is on Hammond Street, which is mostly residential (though there are a few malls on Boylston Street to the south). It features a T symbol, a station sign, and a strangely-placed wastebasket.

A nice path for sure, but how am I supposed to know there's a train station here?
The second entrance is on Middlesex Road. There's a school and a post office near this entrance, but it's much less obvious. It's just a small path with admittedly cool streetlights along it. It doesn't even have a T symbol on Middlesex Road! How is anyone supposed to know it's there?

Not the best vantage point.
Chestnut Hill's parking lot is pretty big for a local station - it has 70 spaces. There's a big sign with lots of taped over and added sections that explains how the parking works. The system seems pretty old fashioned, with manual coin slots. I believe this is the norm for the D Line, though. The station also has a sheltered bike area, with eight spaces.

Lots of snow buildup on the platform.
The platform is as nice as any other D Line platform. It doesn't have much on the outbound side, which makes sense this far west. On the inbound side, there's a classic wooden shelter, painted green. There's also one of those heated CharlieCard shelters, and an old, gross, glass shelter. It was a really quiet, tranquil wait for the train, another standard of the D.

The D Line looks so good in the snow!
Station: Chestnut Hill

Ridership: Pretty standard ridership for the D - about 1,400 boardings per weekday. These are mostly just local riders from surrounding residential areas, though some people may use the station for access to the malls to the south.

Pros: It's a standard D Line station, so I really like it. It has a sizeable parking lot, and the platform has that tranquil D Line feel to it.

Cons: The entrance on Middlesex Road could really use some signage. Even a T symbol would be fine. Also, I really wish the yellow line on the platform was a bit clearer. In its current faded state, I couldn't tell where the platform began and where it ended!

Nearby and Noteworthy: The malls to the south are the most you'll get around here in terms of retail. The post office looked nice, but you know, it's a post office.

Final Verdict: 7/10
All these D Line stations seem to be getting short reviews and 7's across the board. Chestnut Hill has some flaws, namely a lack of signage and an unclear yellow line on the platform (which admittedly could mean the difference between getting run over by a train or not). However, that D Line tranquility always wins me over...

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
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