Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bowdoin

Bowdoin is the last MBTA station I had to visit. I had gone through them all (except the "stations" on a section of the Silver Line, but that doesn't count), but I never really got the chance to go to Bowdoin (or boy-doin as I used to pronounce it for some reason). It was probably because of Bowdoin's schedule: it's open weekdays only, and it closes at 6:15. During weekends and weeknights, Government Center is the Blue Line terminus. However, when my father and I were taking the train to Wonderland to ride the 439 (a bus, by the way, that I strongly recommend), we figured we'd pay a visit to Bowdoin first.

Frankly, Bowdoin seems like a rather pointless station. It's a little over a thousand feet away from Government Center, a four minute walk. Why couldn't the original builders have gone the extra half-mile, so we could've had a Charles/MGH transfer to the Blue Line? Alas, they didn't, and we're stuck with Bowdoin. Nonetheless, it's about a 10 minute walk, so my father and I decided to go on foot from Charles/MGH to avoid the annoying downtown transfer (change to the Green or Orange Lines, then change to the Blue Line, then take it back to Bowdoin). The station has only one entrance, and that's a weird triangle slab sticking out of the ground that doesn't even look like a train station from a distance.

Not the most beautiful entrance in the world.
After paying our fares, we found ourselves on a platform that was triangular: it widened as you headed away from Government Center. The reason for this is that there's an extremely tight loop right after the station, the only remaining turnaround loop on the MBTA's heavy-rail lines, in fact. After trains drop off passengers, they turn their headlights on high, and screech around the loop. Another quirk about the station is that the eastbound platform is 50 feet shorter than the westbound! Because of this, the MBTA cannot fit the usual 6-car trains on it, requiring the use of "open door" buttons on the sides of the train. I'll try to explain how they work as best as I can, but it's easier to understand once you actually do it: basically, the train stops without opening any of its doors. To get in, you have to push buttons on the doors to open them. This way, not all the doors open. It's actually very interesting, and it's the only place on the system that you can do it.


Opening the train doors.
Unfortunately, this doesn't help the fact that the station is very stark and drab. As you can tell from the picture above, the entrance isn't anything interesting, and the plain white paint inside the station is peeling in many places. Pipes line the ceiling of the station, and it looks pretty ugly overall. A rehabilitation is probably not on the MBTA's to-do list, however, since after Government Center's two-year closure, Bowdoin is likely to be closed. Its replacement would be an entrance from the new Government Center. However, that's not to say it's necessarily a boring station. There are some interesting pictures on the walls of Boston and Cambridge in the 1800's, before they filled up the Back Bay. I personally like seeing what the city was like 200 years ago, back when it was surrounded by water.

The new train contrasts with the oldness of the station.
Station: Bowdoin

Ridership: It seemed to be receiving a steady stream of people when we were there, around 3:00 or 4:00. I'm assuming that some people probably use this station to avoid the inevitable crowds at Government Center and State.

Pros: It's a very unique station, in part because of the loop, but mostly because of the "open door" buttons. It's also nice how the MBTA put up signs that tell you how to use the buttons.

Cons: It's just such a dated station. There's only one entrance that doesn't look like an entrance, the paint is peeling, and it's a very drab station in general. Plus, it's insanely close to Government Center.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Seemed like a bunch of buildings to me. There seemed to be a large tent nearby, but we didn't investigate. Anyone know something that's close?

Final Verdict: 5
Unfortunately, the drabness of this station has forced me to downgrade its rating a bit. Nonetheless, it is a very unique station that I would recommend if you have a free weekday. It's possibly the most interesting station on the system.

Latest MBTA News: Shuttle buses are replacing the entire Red Line Ashmont branch (JFK/UMASS to Ashmont) this weekend (April 27-28). That is all.

3 comments:

  1. You pushed my buttons when you gave this station only a 5. The door-opening buttons and the uniqueness of the turnaround loop and the fact that coming to Bowdoin rather than Government Center will increase the chances of getting a seat all add to this station. Personally, I'd give it a 7 and a half...

    Auditorium Man

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it's a unique station, but I mentioned in my review that despite the score, it's a very unique station as you said. The drabness and close proximity to Government Center take away from the station, however.

      By the way, did you mean for that "pushed my buttons" comment to be related to the "open door" buttons used at the station? It was pretty funny.

      Delete
  2. The big tent is the Big Apple Circus.

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