In the 90s, Mishawum was on top of the world. With its attractive highway location, it had a huge parking lot, a Logan Express bus connection, and tons of riders. Then, in 2001, Anderson/Woburn opened up. All of a sudden, Mishawum became almost completely obsolete, and now it gets just three trains in each direction every weekday – it’s a ghost station. A WBUR crew and I came here to check it out – also, hello to any folks who came from there!
Well, I have to say that this is probably the highest-quality microstation on the Commuter Rail, but that’s only because of its past. The station has really nice wooden shelters on both sides, although the inbound one is (sensibly) far longer. The wastebaskets seemed like they hadn’t been emptied in a while, yet the station map was surprisingly up-to-date – someone actually came here to put on a sticker with Boston Landing on it! Something completely out of date, though, was the old honor boxes on the inbound side for a parking lot that doesn’t even exist anymore.
|Welcome to the Graveyard of Random Train Stuff.|
We can use the one crossing to get to the outbound platform, which I doubt anyone has used since Mishawum became a microstation – why would someone go outbound from here? As such, the shelter here isn’t quite as nice, experiencing paint chipping on its columns. Wait, does that mean someone repainted the inbound side? That’s dedication! Also, the outbound platform has a bunch of…stuff behind its shelter. It’s just there, not really bothering anyone, I guess.
|Okay…can we all agree that the font on that left sign is horrible?|
Despite a promising T sign up on Mishawum Road, the outbound staircase is – ahem – “closed for repair.” Yeah, okay. Keep telling us that in your orange sign with a really gross font on it. Look, this affects no one, but these stairs are obviously never getting repaired. I will say that a nice modern sign on Mishawum Road points toward the other entrance with promises of accessibility, but we’ll see how that goes later…
|Well, that is indeed accessible.|
I’ll say that the station’s one open entrance is wheelchair accessible, and surprisingly nice. There’s a long ramp that twists its way down to the station, as well as a staircase alternative for those who are able to use it. The passage is well-lit despite a few broken lights, and it gets the job done really well. Why is it so nice? Because the T built it in 2010. That’s right, it took until 2018 for the MBTA to close Wollaston, a subway station with over 4,500 riders a day, for accessibility improvements, but Mishawum with its six Commuter Rail trains per day got this brand new entrance eight years ago! WHAT??
|The plot thickens.|
Coming out of the station, we arrive in a land of office parks, most prominently a Northern Bank that seems to have opened up recently. But what are these six spaces in the bank’s parking lot for? “MBTA Drop Off Only”? Do people actually get dropped off here? Based on the reverse commuting structure of the station, the only way that would make sense is if someone got their coworker to drive them here after work. Even if some folks do that, is it really necessary to dedicate six spaces to drop-offs? Also, someone locked their bike up here – I have no idea what their commute would be like, but more power to them. Maybe they exclusively use it to get from Mishawum to their workplace!
|Uh-oh, we’re getting into illegal territory…|
Now, there is technically another entrance at Mishawum. We weren’t able to go to it, but we saw someone who did and asked them about it. On the southern end of the inbound platform (which is supposed to be “out of service” but the blocker was moved out of the way), it seems like nothing – there are a few graffitied or broken signs, a lone bench, and an abandoned broken bike sitting in the middle of a bunch of overgrowth. However, this person informed us about a secret cut down there that leads to more office parks! It’s not an official entrance, of course, but it’s very helpful for anyone who works down there, saving commuters from a half-mile detour on the road network.
|And here we are.|
So we finally get to the mini-high platforms. Alright, these aren’t so bad. They don’t have any benches, but at least they’re sheltered, and you’ve got both stairs and a ramp to make them accessible. Cool, this station is accessible. Right?
Oh. I see. So once we ascend the weed-ridden stairs to the platform, we find Mishawum’s dirty little secret: the mini-high platforms have no “lips” to the train. The T got rid of them to make another station accessible. Thus, Mishawum…is not. And look, the place gets six trains per day, so normally I wouldn’t be mad about it…except they put the ramps in just two years before getting rid of the lips. That’s right, Mishawum was accessible for a full two years. Gosh, that’s annoying. It also makes this the only MBTA station that was once accessible but now isn’t! UPDATE 8/27/19: It was pointed out to me that the station has actually been accessible since the 90s. Still, it’s not anymore!
Ridership: With six trains per day, you’re gonna get low ridership – 42 inbound riders per weekday kind of ridership. Although is it that bad when you think about it? I mean, split between three trains, that’s 14 people per train. It’s a somewhat substantial number, and it’s clear that there are commuters around here that rely on the train to get to work.
Pros: Like I said, this is the highest-quality microstation on the Commuter Rail. That’s obviously because it hasn’t always been a microstation, but there’s no denying that the 42 people that use it every day benefit from the spacious inbound shelter with plenty of seating. The entrance to the station is also well-designed, even though the ramps are now useless…
Cons: Yeah, the fact that the ramps were built in 2010 only to become obsolete two years later is really annoying. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap to install them, and there are many other capital improvements on the Commuter Rail that would be so much more helpful to far higher amounts of people. Also, more obviously, parts of Mishawum are in disrepair (like the staircase), and the reverse commute schedule limits its usefulness.
Nearby and Noteworthy: The pinnacle of arcade-based entertainment, Dave and Buster’s, opened up to the west of this station a few years ago. You could also go east to the Woburn Mall, which definitely looks like an interesting place to hang out (note: no it doesn’t).
Final Verdict: 4/10
You know, I didn’t think I would go this high, but I’ll vouch for ol’ Mishawum! It has a hardy base of commuters that use it every day, and they have a luxurious waiting experience compared to other microstations like Silver Hill or – ugh! – Hastings. Heck, Mishawum gets more attention than some full-service Commuter Rail stations; it’s far better than North Beverly, for example. Plus, it’s one of the quirkiest stops on the Commuter Rail, what with its drop-off arrangement, its “closed for repairs” font, its miscellaneous stuff on the outbound platform, and everything else I talked about in the review. Obviously Mishawum could be a lot better, and it has enough houses close by that at least some traditional rush hour trips could be well-used, but for a microstation, it’s top of the line.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Once again, hello to anyone who came here from WBUR, and thanks to them for writing an awesome article! I haven’t seen the video yet (I’m publishing this from school wi-fi where YouTube is blocked – eek!) but I’m sure it’s awesome as well.