The day after I became the first passenger to ride SEPTA’s new bus route, the MBTA just had to open a new station! And yes, I did go to Boston to review it. Not just any station, too – a Fairmount Line station. Where all of the stations are notoriously the same thing. Clearly, I’m crazy. So, after my eight-and-a-half hour journey (video coming at some point!), I hopped on the 10 PM Fairmount train with Jordan (the true first passenger to step foot into the station that morning) and rode down to Blue Hill Ave.
First observation: wow, this place is well-lit! Like, really well-lit. LED lights galore bask the platform in huge amounts of brightness. Second observation: oooh, rocks! The station was built in a partial cut, and the open rock formations add a surprising amount of character to what would normally be a generic Fairmount Line station. The central part of the platform has no shelter, just benches and some digital signs that are slightly smaller than the normal ones. We also get those robotic Boston Landing announcements, for better or for worse.
The station has two entrances, one at Cummins Highway and one at Blue Hill Ave. Both get identical shelters. Again, they’re incredibly well-lit, plus they have security cameras and emergency call boxes, so the station feels very safe. From each entrance, longgggggggg ramps lead up to their respective streets. So long that they both have benches in the middle in case people need to take a break!
The Cummins Highway entrance gets a T symbol, train information, and a bench, perhaps to wait for pickups. There’s also a Blue Hill Ave sign on the bridge that still says that the station is “Coming Soon!” Finally, we get this odd stone block in the middle of the entrance. I’m not sure what its point is, but it’s just…there. The 30 runs down Cummins Highway, but the closest stops are 1-2 blocks away. I know the route only runs every hour most of the time, but it might make sense to consolidate some stops to relocate them closer to the station.
Yup, and the Blue Hill Ave entrance is basically identical to the Cummins Highway one, minus the big stone. Instead, this one gets a knee-high blockade blocking access to the road. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if it wasn’t for the fact that the inbound bus stop for the 28, 29, and 31 is right across the street from the entrance! I guess most people won’t be making bus transfers here, but for what it’s worth, the bus stops are generally well-placed at this entrance. Jordan and I jaywalked across and hopped on a 28 towards Dudley from here, and in a few hours, I would be getting on a Greyhound bus back to Philly.
Station: Blue Hill Ave
Ridership: A 10 PM train is not a good one for judging ridership (although for a Fairmount train, it was reasonably busy with about 20 people on board), but two other people got off here. Jordan said when he was here in the morning, it was getting decent inbound ridership. Either way, I think this will be a well-used station: it’s right near Mattapan’s commercial hub, and there’s plenty of dense housing around it.
Pros: Even though it’s boring, the Fairmount Line station formula works well. It’s hard to complain about a fully high-level platform with direct entrances and lots of light. Plus, the rock formations do add some character! The station’s location is fantastic – Mattapan will finally get a one-seat ride into downtown, which will be a huge benefit to everyone in the neighborhood.
Cons: Sigh…it’s still the Fairmount Line. The station still gets one train per hour. You still can’t pay using CharlieCards. You still won’t get free transfers to other modes. That’s really the biggest drawback here – Blue Hill Ave won’t blossom until it gets legitimate, frequent service integrated with the rest of the system. As for problems with the station itself, though? Just a few wonky connections to bus stops and the fact that the Cummins Highway shelter is basically useless unless you’re travelling outbound (which very few people will).
Nearby and Noteworthy: There are a ton of businesses along Blue Hill Ave south of here – in particular, a bunch of casual restaurants and a few salons, among other stores.
Final Verdict: 8/10
I’ve definitely said this in a Fairmount Line review before: I’m reviewing the station, not the line. Yes, the line remains inadequate for the dense urban areas it serves. In a logical world, this would be a rapid transit station. BUT: the station itself is quite good, and that’s really what I’m reviewing here.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
It was a blast to come back to Boston for about three hours! Stay tuned for a video documenting my journey, plus the hilarious review of the station with Jordan. I don’t know how long it’ll take to edit, but it’s in the pipeline for sure.