Thursday, January 1, 2015

Suffolk Downs

Suffolk Downs (the racetrack) seems to be either closed or on the verge of closing. The website calendar shows the horse-racing schedule ending abruptly in October, and Wikipedia says that October 4th was the last race at the track. If Suffolk Downs does indeed close, though, it'll render the Blue Line station even more obsolete than it already is. So let's take a look at a station that's always at the bottom of MBTA ridership lists, Suffolk Downs!

The Walley Street side of the station.
On the Walley Street side of the station, there are a few bike spaces and a road loop. I assume this part of the station acts as a kiss-and-ride area, though there's nowhere to sit while you're waiting to be picked up. There are also old streetcar tracks here, which is really cool. The interesting thing about that is that it suggests a streetcar line used to serve the station, though there are no bus connections now.

Interesting that they kept those tracks.
The station's sole entrance, on the Walley Street side, is interesting to say the least. It's a mixture of brick and concrete, as well as the ugly black fences that permeate the station. Really, they look terrible, and they're everywhere. The entrance also has a big blue T logo, and big maps for each direction of the Blue Line. 

The entrance.
On the other side of the station is Bennington Street. There's a sizeable parking lot (considering the station's ridership) on this side, with 110 spaces. I'm not sure why one would drive into Suffolk Downs, but it's nice that the lot's there. Unfortunately, getting from Bennington Street into the station is kind of annoying. There's no proper entrance on this side, so you have to use a footbridge to get to the other. There is, however, an exit to Bennington Street from the outbound platform.

The footbridge, which is pretty ugly. This is the side of it used to get between inbound and outbound platforms, within fare control.
The "mezzanine" isn't much. It has a customer service booth (which was totally empty when I was there), two fare machines, and four fare gates. The ceiling is low and pretty ugly, while a single, pure concrete pillar only continues to detract from the aesthetic appeal. There's also one of those random rolling chairs here, which I feel like are in a lot of MBTA stations...

I had to back up into a corner in order to get this picture.
The platform is also pretty ugly. A very small portion of it is sheltered, and a pretty bad-looking shelter at that. The footbridge adds to the gritty look, with its metal bars and rusting crossbeams. That's what you use to get between the platforms, too. There aren't any elevators, but long snaking ramps for those in wheelchairs. Nothing as cool-looking as Herald Square in New York, though.

The sun sets further down the tracks...
The other end of the platform is entirely unsheltered. It has more of those annoying fences, and a bunch of concrete poles with lights on them. There aren't any places to sit on this side, though the platform doesn't have a lot of benches, anyway. Suffolk Downs has a pretty isolated feel overall, and it's not really worth visiting.

A train coming into the station.
Okay, so I have two train pictures. I like this one because you can see where the tracks rise up to Beachmont Station in the background.
Station: Suffolk Downs

Ridership: Pretty much nonexistent! It's the second least-used station on the MBTA (the first being Science Park, interestingly), with only 1,125 boardings per weekday. I assume most of the ridership comes from the residential areas around the station, because Suffolk Downs just doesn't seem to be a happening place.

Pros: Well, it's nice that it has a parking lot, and the streetcar tracks are nice...

Cons: First of all, you have to cross the annoying footbridge to the other side of the station in order to get in from Bennington Street. I don't see why they couldn't just stick some fare gates on the Bennington Street side. Also, the whole station is just really dated. There's so much concrete, and those stupid fences are everywhere. You would never think this station was rebuilt in the 90's (which it was).

Nearby and Noteworthy: Most of the surrounding area is residential, aside from Suffolk Downs itself, which is closed (or something like that). There was, however, a restaurant on Bennington Street called Napoles - I have no idea if it's good or not, but the building has a big model plane on it, which is pretty cool.

Final Verdict: 3/10
There isn't much to write home about with this one. It's an ugly, isolated station that nobody uses. The only really noteworthy thing about it is the streetcar track, but it's not worth going all the way out to Suffolk Downs to see a track stub.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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