Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lawrence

I was pretty upset that I had to walk over a mile to get to Lawrence Station from the MVRTA's Buckley Transportation Center. There's no street signage leading the way, so I had to go to a library to ask for directions. And the station's pretty far from downtown Lawrence, so that signage would be much appreciated. In other towns, they always have little road signs that point to the Commuter Rail, but apparently not here. That's just bad publicity, MBTA!

Look, not even the station itself has signage! This could just be a random parking lot for all I know!
Lawrence (sorry, the Senator Patricia McGovern Transportation Center) is almost brand-new. Before 2005, the station was further west down the tracks, but that year they moved the whole thing to its current location. It now boasts a large parking garage and some nice amenities. Too bad they forgot the signage.

The side of the building.
Outside, there's a small plaza to the west of the station. It's mostly concrete, but there is a cool statue on the street corner. On the side of the parking lot, there are a few convenient businesses. By a few convenient businesses, I mean a police station and a closed café. Businesses indeed...

The busway and drop-off area.
There are signs in various places around the station that say "To Buses". Well, if they mean one bus, then that's fairly accurate. Only a single MVRTA route stops at the Commuter Rail station, and that's the 33. Why don't other buses serve it, especially the 85 downtown shuttle route? Well, the busway and drop-off area is as nice as a busway and drop-off area needs to be. Nothing spectacular, but nothing too dingy.

The waiting room.
On the side of the busway is a small waiting room. It's pretty nice inside, with glass windows, bright ceilings and floors, and lots of natural light. There are a few rows of benches, and it was fairly crowded in there when I was at the station. Interestingly, there's a small room that leads to the stairs to the parking garage that people wait at, too. It's not nearly as nice, and it doesn't have any benches, but people use it anyway for some reason.

The platform.
The platform is pretty nice. It's entirely high-floor, so the station's fully accessible. There are actually some trees between it and the parking garage, which is a good touch. A modern shelter leans over the middle section of the station. There aren't that many benches, though, so I think the MBTA assumes most people will wait in the waiting room. Overall, it has a pretty modern feel to it, which I like.

A train arrives at the station.
Station: Lawrence

Ridership: Not bad for a Commuter Rail station - about 725 daily weekday riders. It was fairly crowded when I was there. I assume most of the riders consist of Lawrence locals commuting to Boston, though for some reason the MVRTA runs its Boston commuter service from here. (So you're gonna terminate all the useful connections at Buckley but then run your Boston route from a station where a train goes to the same place. Thanks, MVRTA.)

Pros: Well, for one thing, the Commuter Rail takes much less time than the above MVRTA commuter service, so there! But also, the station is pretty good-looking aesthetically, and offers a sizeable parking garage of 400 spaces.

Cons: No signage is my big problem with this station. Either that or a shuttle to the Buckley would make bus transfers so easy! The 33 just runs every half hour, so I don't think it's properly coordinated with the Commuter Rail. Also, with the closed café (which seems to be closed for good), there should at least be a vending machine at the station to tide people over with a snack.

Nearby and Noteworthy: I got nothin'. Nothin' specific, anyway.

Final Verdict: 7/10
I will admit, this is a nice-looking station. It's modern and the waiting room is a good place to wait for the train. But though Lowell was depressing, at least the buses and trains stop at the same place there. I really wish the MVRTA ran a short shuttle from the Commuter Rail to Buckley, or just added the Commuter Rail as a stop to their downtown shuttle route. Unless, that is, the 33 is properly coordinated with the Commuter Rail. If I find that out from one of you readers, I'll retroactively give this station an eight.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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