I always get amazed at how busy these Providence Line stations get. As a small town sandwiched by much bigger ones that also get Commuter Rail service, it feels like Sharon has no right to get the amount of ridership that it does. And yet here we are: the power of the Providence Line.
There was a point when Sharon was the busiest station on the system that wasn’t accessible, and you can imagine I would’ve talked harshly about that. Luckily, the station finally got mini-high platforms in 2014, and they both have benches! I also like the subtle curves of the shelter’s roof, adding just a bit of character to what would otherwise be a generic modern platform. Really slight complaint, though: wastebaskets up here would be great.
If only the rest of the platform was better. There’s something to be said about the rustic charm of wood, but when that wood has paint peeling off of it, and the shelter made out of that wood has a window that’s so worn-out that it can’t be seen through anymore, it loses some of that charm. The outbound side is the one with that decrepit shelter (not including the awning along both platforms), and it doesn’t even get benches underneath it; the inbound side, meanwhile, gets two benches: one is barely even underneath the shelter, and the other is facing away from the tracks!
Sharon’s building is only open during the morning rush, but it looks awesome. A cafe inside sells refreshments and pastries, while long wooden benches offer places to sit. Water fountains and bathrooms are also inside. There’s even a nice mural of various elements of the town on one wall (plus a world map on the other) that I couldn’t capture in a photo, but here’s one.
Two staircases and a longgggg ramp lead up to Depot Street, which crosses over the station, while two roads head to parking lots on both sides of the tracks. The lots contain 542 spaces in total, and they’re managed by the Town of Sharon. The good thing about that: there are machines to pay for parking, and even though they’re credit/debit only, they’re still nice to have. The bad thing about that: the parking fee is $4, with no weekend discount and no monthly pass. At least there are a ton of bike spaces here, though!
Ridership: Like I said at the beginning of the post, Sharon gets a ton of ridership given its location. According to the 2018 CTPS counts, the station gets 1,276 inbound riders per day, making it the fifth-busiest station on the Providence Line. The station only gets 20 inbound trains per day, so that’s an average of over 63 boardings per train here! Also, remember that the parking lot only has 542 spaces – that means that well over half of the station’s riders are either biking, walking, or getting dropped off.
Pros: The mini-highs are great. Also, the inside of the building looks like a fantastic place to wait in the morning rush. I’m glad that even though the station has a ton of parking, it also provides many bike racks (hopefully enough – I have no idea how full they get) to encourage an alternate form of first-mile travel. Plus, despite having the huge parking lot, the station is only a seven-minute walk from Sharon’s town center and the relatively dense residential neighborhoods around it.
Cons: I’m almost certain that the lot fills up, and probably early. If only we had more data about where people could possibly be coming from (seriously, it’s hard to tell – are they all really coming from within Sharon?) to figure out alternatives of getting here. The low-level platforms are dismal, and honestly, I wish they had just gone for full high-level when they built the mini-highs in 2014. The Providence Line is ripe for frequent EMU service with high-platformed stations, and opting to do mini-highs everywhere (including with the Mansfield rebuild going on right now, ugh) will just prolong that pipe dream even further.
Final Verdict: 6/10
Ahhh, the station itself isn’t terrible. I’m just a bit salty that the Providence Line doesn’t have all full high-level platforms by now, and that the T has no intention of making that a reality in the near future. Sure, the mini-highs here are better than usual, but the low-level portions are really not great. And while the building is nice, it’s only open during the morning rush. Yeah, Sharon’s fine…but that’s all it is.