Saturday, November 2, 2013

Riverside

I've always found it funny how the C and E branches of the Green Line end more or less in Boston and the B branch barely makes it into Newton - but then the D branch stretches all the way out to the Weston border on its own amazingly fast right-of-way. The terminus of the D is Riverside, a massive complex practically in the middle of nowhere. I had been there a few times for fun, but had never left the station (I didn't want to have to pay my fare again). Taking the 558 (review coming soon) out there, however, gave me the chance to explore, and I can now say that Riverside is like heaven for transit-lovers.

This is one of the only (if not the only) above ground Green Line station with actual CharlieCard gates and trains opening all doors instead of just the front. However, there seemed to be no employees on duty at the station when I went (around 1:30 on a weekday), and there was a random rolling chair sitting around that someone could've easily stolen. Riverside is also the location of Pluto in the Museum of Science Community Solar System. Finally, it has a massive parking lot with 925 spaces.

The parking lot.
The platform has a bit of a inefficient layout. The outbound platform (i.e. trains coming into Riverside) is on the far end of the station, requiring commuters to cross over the inbound tracks to get to the exit. It's pretty nice overall, providing a lot of shelter on both platforms (although who would use the center platform going back to Boston when it requires crossing over the tracks)?  Something I found interesting on the platform was an "assistance box" with buttons for information and emergency help. Emergency help makes sense, but I don't know why there would be tourists out at Riverside wishing to figure out "information" (or tourists in general, really). Also, the box didn't seem to be connected to anything, and I wanted to see if it worked but there were some bees who had taken up residence in there.

The platform.
The area with the fare gates is nice, with a rounded roof to one side and a staircase area to the other. There's a concrete carving in the staircase area that says "RIVERSIDE." It is also in this lobby area that the Museum of Science Community Solar System Pluto is located. Walking down the staircase and along a sidewalk, you can observe the drivers getting into their trains to leave for Boston. Going further, there's a busway with a few regional coach buses, including Go Bus. The only MBTA bus to serve Riverside is the 558 express to Boston via Waltham. It used to also be served by the 500 and 555 express buses to Boston, but they were eliminated due to bad ridership (Taking a bus on crowded I-90 over the train? Sign me up)!

The fare area.
At the busway, there is also a useless bike rack that's been completely uprooted out of the ground (yet it had bikes attached to it, anyway - must not be very many thieves out here). There's also a nice Go Bus building. Going inside, there are vending machines (a very convenient amenity), free coffee (fantastic) bathrooms (an amazing feature) and a lot of posters with pictures of New York on them (not as helpful). There's also a desk with maps of Manhattan and the MBTA bus system. My father and I got into a long conversation with a nice clerk there.

Pretty swanky.
As you get further away from the station proper, you can see some forlorn bus shelters that used to be served by the 500 and 555. There is also a massive work car on a platform (not connected to the yard, for some reason). There are some amazing views at this end of the station of some old Boeing LRV cars that were retired in 2007. I saw two that are currently being used as work vehicles. I don't think people visit this end of the station much, because I was getting a lot of odd looks from people sitting in their cars for no reason. There is also a hotel right next to the station that I'll talk about in a minute. Since I took so many pictures of the yard and the station, I'm also going to have to make a separate post for the bulk of them.

Beautiful! I love this picture!
Station: Riverside

Ridership: This is a very commuter-heavy station. What with the massive parking lot, as well as the convenient location right next to I-95, this station screams "commuters." In general, I think most people drive to this station even if it's close by - that parking lot was packed.

Pros: This is probably the best above ground Green Line station there is. It actually feels like it could be a heavy rail station, especially because it has actual fare gates. This is also heaven for anyone who likes transit, vintage train cars, or just trainspotting. This is a massive yard complex, and you won't be disappointed. I also really like the Go Bus office, as it makes Riverside one of the only MBTA stations with both food and bathrooms.

Cons: This station has an air of neglect to me. From the random rolling chair sitting around to the detached bike rack to the beehive in the assistance box, it seems like an employee hasn't looked around the station in years. It also gets more and more forgotten the further you get from the station proper. The station proper is very nice, as I said before. Then you get to the busway, which has the excellent but slightly hidden Go Bus office, although no shelters. Then there's a stretch of sidewalk and a big bin for recycling paper (a popular spot for bees) where it seems no one has gone since the 20th century. Then there are the forgotten bus shelters, the random work vehicle on a platform, and from there on empty asphalt sprinkled with sand...

Nearby and Noteworthy: No offence to anyone who lives out here, but Riverside is in the middle of nowhere. There's a golf course to the east, housing and a small office park to the north, a massive highway interchange to the west, and the "Hotel Indigo" directly to the south. Now don't get me wrong, $119 a night is insanely cheap and it looks like a nice hotel, but the website tries way too hard to hide the fact that it's in the middle of nowhere. "...our Newton MA hotel is minutes from Logan International Airport..." Fantastic.

Final Verdict: 8/10 if you like transit, 5/10 otherwise
Bottom line, if you like transit then you should definitely pay a visit here. The yard is very interesting, especially if you poke around the more neglected parts of the station. That brings me to my next point: the station seems almost forgotten, and although the station proper is nice, the rest is pretty awful. And even the station proper has signs of neglect, such as the rolling chair.or the beehive. However, I do really like how this station has those fare gates; that's a major plus for the Green Line.

Latest MBTA News: Service Alerts
New Red Line and Orange Line cars are being ordered! They could possibly have LED maps that tell you where the train is, "if the price is right." I personally hope they're implemented in the cars. Also, it's official: the Silver Line is being extended to Chelsea! The extension should hopefully take pressure off the 111 bus.

4 comments:

  1. Back in the day there was just one platform that served inbound and outbound; trains looped around the back of the yard to access it. The ride around the back was fun; there were a bunch of old PCCs in various stages of disrepair back there. There were some old Boeing LRVs as well and you could walk right up to them; I still regret not pilfering an old rollsign from one of them.

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  2. Commuter rail trains were once directed to riverside during pike construction. And riverside is very close to auburndale, which has lasell college and a handful of restaurants and shops, accessed easily by the 558, theres connections for more busses this way too.

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  3. When Kenmore Flooded Sometime they Ran Commuter Rail to Riverside. There is Even a track off the Framingham Line that Goes into the Yard for Off Loading of new Cars

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  4. The B line ends on the border of Newton & Boston. The station is located in Boston but take a right out of the station then you will be in Newton

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