Thursday, March 17, 2016

Brockton

I think downtown Brockton is pretty widely considered to be...well, let's say a "sketchy neighborhood". And train stations are usually where the sketchiest parts of sketchy neighborhoods happen to be. I have to wonder, then, if it's a coincidence that Brockton Station happens to be right next to a police station. Hmm...

Some parking along the side of the police station.
There are two places at Brockton to park, the first one being a strange lot next to the police station. The thing is, I'm not really sure where the station parking ends and where police parking begins, since a lot of it is reserved for police vehicles. Plus, it goes up a slope, so many of the spaces are at an angle, which must make it interesting to park there.

This was taken from a moving bus, which explains its awfulness.
Luckily, there's a more traditional parking option available in the form of a BAT parking garage. I'm not sure how much of it is considered station parking (if any), but the MBTA website says the station has 266 spaces, and there are not that many in the weird slope lot. Thus, I assume the strange little two-story garage contains the rest of the station parking, and parking for the BAT, as well.

A little plaza.
Next to the police station and outside of the station's entrance, there's a small plaza with a few amenities. For example, it has some weirdly-placed bike spaces. I mean...unless it's normal to park your bike right on the dirt. Also, there are benches, a payphone, and a map of Brockton and the BAT system. This plaza acts as the "gateway" to the Commuter Rail station, with one staircase leading directly to it while another (a block away) requires walking through the police station parking lot. One final exit is via the ramped parking, and that leads to the BAT Center (more on that later).

The proper entrance to the station.
The way you get onto the platform here is reminiscent of Braintree, another Old Colony station. Like that station, Brockton has a center platform that requires crossing one of the tracks to get to. At least there are plenty of lights and signs to inform passengers of the crossing. Once in the middle of the tracks, there is a staircase and a ramp up to the full high-level platform.

Up on the platform.
Although the platform is elevated, there isn't much of a view. Thus, we're left with a standard Old Colony station, with benches and wastebaskets under a fairly stark shelter. There are vintage Commuter Rail maps, though, presumably from when the station opened (1997).

Mmm...interesting.
Of course, most of the platform is open. And...yeah, it's basically more benches and wastebaskets for the whole length of the insanely long station, which is typical for the Old Colony Lines. However, Brockton stands out from the crowd by having insanely robotic announcements that don't say anything important! Woo!

The BAT Center, complete with solar panels!
Of course, no discussion of Brockton would be complete without talking about the BAT Center, right across the street from the Commuter Rail. Even though they're technically separated, I'm considering them to be part of the same facility, since they...basically are. Although to be honest, the BAT Center should really be renamed to the BATCave. And for what it's worth, all of the BAT's buses should be called BATMobiles. Okay, okay, I'll stop now...

The inside of the BATCave...I mean, Center.
The inside of the BAT Center is awesome. Just in terms of aesthetics, a lot of it is made of wood, and so it has a great, rustic feel to it all. Of course, its facilities are quite modern, including a countdown screen! Admittedly, it's pretty unnecessary since most BAT buses leave the hub at the same time, but it's still nice to have.

The businesses in the building.
The BAT Center also features two cafés, as well as a convenience store! And there are tables and wastebaskets everywhere so people can eat while they're waiting for the bus! Plus, the Center has a ticket booth, ticket machines, and bathrooms (though their doors remain locked unless you get a key at the ticket booth, which does make sense, considering the neighborhood).

The outdoor area.
Outside, each bus route gets its own specific bay, and for the most part, they all leave the BAT Center at the same time to make transfers easier (it's a pulse system). The outdoor area also has shelters with more seating, as well as wastebaskets and even more countdown clocks for individual routes! Not to mention, there are speakers for announcements about when the next "pulse" is! I love this place so much...

Oh, right, there's also a Commuter Rail station. Um...that's fine, too.
Station: Brockton

Ridership: Unsurprisingly, this is the busiest of the three Brockton Commuter Rail stations, and the third-busiest on the whole Old Colony system, with 778 inbound riders per weekday. And to be honest, it seems to get some degree of outbound ridership, since a few people got off a train coming from Middleborough on a Saturday! As for the BAT...well, this is the main hub of a very busy bus system, so I think you can imagine how much ridership it gets.

Pros: Okay, so the BAT Center, right? Yeah, so it's got all these cool amenities, like cafés, bathrooms, and countdown clocks! It has a whole bunch of seating, it's all indoors, and it's so awesome! Oh yeah, and then there's also the Commuter Rail station. It's high-level, which is...standard for the Old Colony. Um...it has that robotic voice, too...

Cons: Okay, all jokes aside, there really isn't much wrong with the Commuter Rail station, either. It's what you'd expect from an Old Colony station and nothing more. I guess specific signage to the BAT Center could be nice, but other than that, there are no glaring flaws here.

Nearby and Noteworthy: I mean, there's certainly a lot nearby (this is downtown Brockton, after all), but it's only noteworthy in that I wouldn't recommend spending much time here...

Final Verdict: 9/10
Yeah, I have a weakness for big Commuter Rail hub stations with lots of amenities. It has to be said, though, that most of those amenities are within the BAT Center rather than at the station itself. Indeed, if the BAT Center wasn't included in this review, the station would probably get a 7 at most (considering it's average but not bad). However, the awesomeness of the BAT's hub raises it up that extra two points. What a great place to run buses from! And...the Commuter Rail station is a fine place to run trains, I guess.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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