Monday, March 21, 2016

Government Center

Yes, it's finally here! The moment we've all been waiting for! After 1 year and 364 days, the crucial connection between the Green and Blue Lines is once again open. And let me tell you, it's beautiful. I don't want to leave you hanging any longer, so let's take a look at the brand new Government Center!

Oh, look at that beautiful Boston City Hall! That glass station entrance...pshhhh.
I kid, of course. Boston City Hall is like Boston's great big pimple, while Government Center's new entrance is the pimple remover. I mean, it's simply beautiful. The glass headhouse is amazing, and really announces that there's a train station here a lot better than the old one. I do wonder why there are still construction signs pointing the way to State and Park Street around the station, though.

The entrance.
The actual entrance is amazing, too. Located right off of Cambridge Street, there are six pairs of automatic doors that lead into the mezzanine - four in the front, and one on each side. The sheer number of doorways into the station is instantly an improvement from the original Government Center's tiny entrance.

The mezzanine.
Inside, the mezzanine is huge and spacious, with a bunch of fare gates into the station. They're the "new" type of fare gates like the ones at Assembly that make different noises. Plus, they have two wider reduced fare gates! I do wish it was one on each side, but two on the end is better than nothing. In addition, there are fare machines on either side of the big mass of gates.

Plants!
Other amenities in the mezzanine include countdown clocks for both the Green and Blue Lines, on either side of the fare gates. There are also wastebaskets, of course, and interestingly, potted plants. I don't think there's ever been an MBTA station with those before, but they look quite nice!

Inside the big glass structure!
Once past the mezzanine, you enter the huge glass area that's visible from all around the station. We'll see how long the glass stays clean, but for now, it looks great! There are some good views of the surrounding area from inside the enclosure, as well as LED lights that change from blue to green! Stairs lead down to the Green Line, as well as up and down escalators.

The main attraction!
Of course, the newest addition to Government Center is the brand new elevators, making it finally accessible! There are two that go from the mezzanine down to the Green Line, and they're big, glass, and quick. The only problem is that the one I took (and possibly the other one, too) already smells bad. Geez, that didn't take long.

The Green Line platform!
Remember how dark the Green Line platform in the old Government Center was? Yeah, well you can kiss those memories goodbye, because it's sooooooo bright! Not only are there lots of LEDs lighting up the place, but the glass structure adds lots of natural light to the station, too. And everything is painted white to make the platform even brighter. The more light, the merrier, I guess.

A poster about the retail space.
However, one aspect of the platform that's decidedly missing is retail space. Specifically, the station used to house a Dunkin' Donuts right on the platform that's not there anymore. The T is currently looking for businesses to occupy the space, so hopefully something worthwhile comes up there. Another unfortunate omission from this new station is the fantastic murals that were in the old one - there is a little information board about them, at least.

Along the track.
The Green Line platforms feature proper countdown clocks going outbound and the ones showing how many stops away the trains are going inbound. I do wish the platform had more benches, though, since it's quite spacious, yet rather empty. Couldn't they fit more benches in? There are very, very few.

Possibly the coolest part of the whole station.
Along the curved inbound platform, there are "mind the gap" signs along the track, which in itself is awesome - but we're just getting started. Do you remember how screechy the trains were at the old Government Center? Well, that's all changed. Now they have these sprayers along the curve that grease the tracks to keep the trains from screeching! THAT'S AMAZING! Now all we need is one of these bad boys at Boylston.

A train heading to North Station.
One of my favorite things about Government Center is that it's probably the second easiest transfer on the whole system (after North Station's cross-platform one). There are a bunch of staircases (and now two elevators) that all lead directly down to the Blue Line from the Green Line. One of the staircases has a vintage "Scolley Square Under" sign, while the other has historical information! And the elevator I took did smell alright this time, so that's a plus.

The Blue Line platform!
The Blue Line platform is quite possibly even brighter and whiter than the Green Line one. Basically...yeah, everything's painted white. But it looks quite glossy, at least for now! We'll see what happens as the station gets older and dirtier, though.

Further down the platform.
As for the platform itself, it's quite clean and spacious. On one end, there's an emergency exit that, to be honest, should probably just be made into a regular entrance. Also, the Blue Line platform has the same lack of benches that the Green Line one has - I only saw two! Maybe they're trying to encourage good health by making all the passengers stand.

A train bursting into the station.
Station: Government Center

Ridership: In 2013, before the station closed, Government Center was actually the least-used transfer point on the system. Still, 10,828 riders per day is not a low number, and the station still ranked 17th on the system. To be honest, it wasn't that crowded today, and the ridership consisted of either people making transfers or transit fans taking photos. Still, once more people realize the place is open, I'm sure ridership will increase.

Pros: This. Place. Looks. Great. There's no other way to put it, it looks amazing. From the huge glass structure outside to the spacious mezzanine to the bright Green Line platform to the shiny Blue Line platform, they really did an awesome job with the aesthetics here. Not only that, but this station is fantastic functionally. The huge amount of fare gates at the entrance allows for many people to enter at the same time, and the transfer between the Green and Blue Lines is definitely one of the simplest and easiest on the system. The fact that the station is accessible now is of course a huge plus, and oh - the Green Line track sprayers! They are the most amazing thing I have ever seen. And heard. Because there's silence because the trains don't screech!!!!!

Cons: There are only two problems I have with the new station. The first is that there's no retail yet, but that should be taken care of soon. Hopefully a food or convenience store will take the spot, since that would be very convenient while waiting for the train. My other issue is the lack of benches. Maybe I'm lazy, but it seems like it's customary to include a good amount of seating space in train stations. The worst part is that there's plenty of room on the massive platforms, and yet it seems like they haven't really taken advantage of that.

Nearby and Noteworthy: I have to say, Government Center is probably on the least interesting corner of the downtown square. Boston City Hall is an eyesore, and generally its plaza is the most boring place ever. Okay, so the Big Apple Circus is there now, but other than that, the area isn't noteworthy at all.

Final Verdict: 9/10
I have to say, I was absolutely blown away by the new station. There are the big things, like the glass headhouse, the big mezzanine, and the bright platforms, but then there are also little details that I really love: the potted plants in the mezzanine, the LED lights that switch from green to blue, and - of course - the Green Line track sprayers. And the place is accessible now! Since I'm not that upset about the lack of retail space, the only thing keeping this station from a 10 is the fact that there are so few benches. Perhaps the MBTA has a reason for omitting them from the platforms, but I think there should definitely be more than what they have now. Other than that, though, this is a really, really great station. Kudos for building something wonderful, MBTA!
UPDATE: In my rush to get this post out on opening day, I forgot to mention that the B terminates at Park Street now. One the one hand, this makes it harder for passengers on that branch to get to Government Center, but on the other hand, it does prevent the bottleneck between it and Park Street. It's neither a pro nor a con, but I figured I ought to mention it.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

5 comments:

  1. Wowza, that place looks beautiful. I'm especially excited to see the sprayers in action. Nice write up.

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  2. Great review and awesome station! It was very fun meeting you Monday and that interview was really fun! Keep up the good work!

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  3. Sorry, but I'm NOT a fan of the renovation, especially the green line. The light seems painfully bright and I feel like I would need to wear sunglasses in there. I've never used the blue line so other than the light in the photos you posted I can't speak to that renovation much, though I do like the Scollay Under signs I saw in another post. However, I used to ride the green line quite often and I don't like the changes. I know I'm likely in the minority on this, but I liked the grungy old feel of the former station. Sure it was a little dark (and smelly at times) but it was historic and being a history buff I hate seeing historic things taken down simply for modern convenience or looks. I feel like there could have been some sort of compromise - like why did they get rid of the murals? Also, why did they make the green line handicap accessible? Did they also renovate the trams or get new ones? It's been a few years, but I've never seen a handicap accessible green line tram so unless this has changed it seems a little foolish to have handicap access to non-accessible trams. Also, can you still see the Brattle Loop? I loved that part of the old station more than anything else and I can't tell from these photos. It's a good review, I just happen to disagree with you.

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    1. The newer Green Line trains are accessible, so that was an important aspect of the station; as for the rest of your complaints, that's an interesting take on the old station! I'm part of that majority that didn't like it, but I totally understand your reasons. I believe you can still see the Brattle Loop, yes.

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  4. well those sprayers must not have worked because whenever I go to government center now I feel like I am going to go deaf when an outbound train leaves the station ,seriously it's worst than boylston

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