Friday, February 10, 2017

MWRTA: Blandin Hub

Like the GATRA's Bloom Terminal, the MWRTA chose to locate its hub at its main yard. This is a boon for scheduling, since you can have buses and drivers start shifts mere minutes before their trips. Of course, you may remember that the Bloom Terminal was absolutely terrible - the MWRTA's Blandin Hub isn't quite as bad, but it certainly ain't good!

A statue outside the building.
I will say that the hub's entrance is very nice. A path offers a more direct route to the hub from downtown Framingham, although it's still pretty out of the way - why can't pedestrians use the alternate employee entrance from East Street? Outside the main entrance, there's a memorial to citizens of the MetroWest area who fought in the Vietnam War.

And once again, Sam strikes a pose.
Ouch. Yeah, the waiting area of the Blandin Hub is less-than-impressive. There's a board with schedules for all the routes and three benches haphazardly spread around. One of them has a tiny bike rack hidden behind it. It's all covered by a really boring metal shelter. The one cool thing about this area is the bookcases - the MWRTA has a library where passengers can take out books to read while waiting for the bus!

Looking out at the yard.
Right, and now I need to dedicate a whole paragraph to the stupid stupid stupid boarding procedure here. As you can see above, there are poles that prevent buses from going up to the sidewalk to pick people up. Is the solution to: A) Extend the sidewalk up to the poles so passengers can have easy, accessible boarding, or B) Have buses board on the other side of the poles and make people walk to them? Well, the MWRTA chose option B, and that's just ridiculous. That makes buses harder to board, especially for disabled folks who have to make the step down from the curb!

The inside of the building.
You know, the day we went to the terminal, it was pretty cold. Good thing the Blandin Hub has a spacious interior...oh wait, it's tiny. The only place open to the public is a minuscule vestibule (hey, that rhymes!) with ONE SEAT. There's a door further into the building, but despite a lack of signage saying so, the area is employees-only. I will say that the actual atmosphere of the building is pleasant - there are colored pictures hung up on the walls, and the receptionists are very nice. If only there was, I dunno, MORE THAN ONE SEAT.

Have a belated "happy holiday's" from the MWRTA! Argh, it pains me just to WRITE it with an apostrophe like that...
MWRTA Station: Blandin Hub

Ridership: The hub was never too busy when we were around - I think the most people we ever saw was around 6-7. I guess that about lines up with the MWRTA's ridership, though, since the system just doesn't get that many people.

Pros: This hub is in a much better location than their former hub, which was practically in Natick - sure, the walk from downtown is still less-than-ideal at almost 10 minutes, but it's a necessary evil if the MWRTA is to have a proper facility like this. And there are a lot of aspects of it that I like: the outside area is all sheltered, there's parking for bikes, the receptionists are nice, the Vietnam Memorial is poignant, and the library is a fantastic inclusion.

Cons: Firstly, the boarding procedure is just stupid, and I'm sure it's an easy fix - how hard is it to extend the sidewalk a few feet? Also, there really should be a more robust interior here. It's cold and uncomfortable outside in the winter, and the one seat inside is just sad. It seems like waiting here in the cold is a disagreeable experience no matter where you go...

Nearby and Noteworthy: There's nothing interesting in the immediate vicinity, but if you walk to downtown Framingham, there's, uh...some buildings? Look, I'll be honest, Framingham has one of the starkest and most boring downtowns in any Massachusetts city. I don't think it's really worth a visit.

Final Verdict: 4/10
Yes, I do like a lot about this hub. But the experience of waiting here is just miserable in the cold! I'm sure it's better in the summer, but even then, the benches and building are very stark, and you still need to walk out to buses past the poles in order to board. Well, at least there's plenty of reading material in the library!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

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