Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Heath Street

One line has Alewife. Another line has Wonderland. But none of those can compare to the might and power of...Heath Street? Heath Street, with its strange "V.A. Medical Center" subtitle that sounds like "D.A. Medical Center" on the trains? Not much of a terminus...

The shelter along the inner loop.
The train has a little loop here, and Heath Street is along the loop in a short right-of-way. One of the platforms feels like a typical median E Line station, and it's great. It has a decent shelter, some wastebaskets, a bit of greenery, and a ticket validator! There's just one problem...

This is where you ACTUALLY board.
Trains don't actually board on the platform with all the stuff on it! Instead, you have to use this asphalt strip that A) is further away from the train, since trains go on the inner track, and B) has nothing on it aside from a wastebasket and a pointless wheelchair ramp.

A little building.
The station also has a building that is used by workers. It seems to just be a little office, but there's also a bench on the outside that could theoretically be used for waiting for the train or the 39 (but the latter has a shelter, too). The other bus connection here is the 14, which actually boards on the loop.

Hey, parking! Wait...
There's a rather worn-down parking lot within the Heath Street loop, and at first glance, it seemed like a little station lot. However, it turns out it's parking for V.A. Hospital employees - a hospital, keep in mind, with two parking garages and a few other lots. Does this little 20 space lot really need to be used for employee parking? I mean, Heath Street might benefit with at least a bit of space for cars, even though it's quite urban.

A train on the loop...
...and heading out towards Lechmere.
Station: Heath Street

Ridership: Heath Street's ridership isn't particularly high, with an average of 820 riders per weekday - it's in the bottom 20 for Green Line stations. This could be for a few reasons: for one thing, the Orange Line is reasonably close, and that offers a much faster ride downtown; also, I'm sure many people opt to take the 39, since the E is often delayed.

Pros: This station does have amenities, and where they exist, they're pretty good. After all, the platform is nice and wide, with all the street stop necessities, plus a bit of greenery to make everything look nice!

Cons: But the platform is on the wrong side. I understand why the MBTA would want people to board on the right side of the train so that they can pay their fares at the front, but I don't think this station ever gets crowded enough that a fare dodger wouldn't be caught by the driver. I mean, they could always put a Customer Service Agent here during rush hour so people can actually use the shelter - I think there's often someone in that building on weekdays, anyway. It just seems like a waste to have such a lovely platform that no one can use. Also, for the record, the E used to go all the way to Forest Hills, but it was cut back in the 80s. That service will probably never get restored, but it makes a bit of an "incomplete" feeling at Heath Street (the 39 covers the former service).

Nearby and Noteworthy: Apartments and the V.A. Hospital - and not much else.

Final Verdict: 5/10
What a strange little terminus. Honestly, if that platform were in use, the station would probably end up with a 7! But as it stands, people have to wait at the strange asphalt bit with only a wastebasket for company. Opening the left hand doors would make a world of difference for people's waiting experiences here.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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