I love Shawmut on the outside. For one thing, it’s situated in a very quiet residential neighborhood. There aren’t any major streets in the general vicinity of the station, so it’s very tranquil walking around the area. And since the station’s underground, there aren’t any noisy trains that break the peace. There’s a big wide path that goes through the neighborhood, and along it are these cool old-fashioned signs directing the way to “tunnel trains.”
|There’s one of these at Fields Corner, too, but Shawmut has three along its path.|
The station’s single entrance, too, is magnificent. It apparently dates back to 1928, and certainly looks like it. It’s very ornate, with pillars and brick architecture. The “Shawmut” sign isn’t even in the Red Line livery, since it predated the line colors! The only indication that this is even an MBTA stop is the little plaque next to the doors that reads “Shawmut Station” with a T logo. But this is still an awesome entrance, and the station’s surroundings are just as awesome.
|Into the unknown we go…|
The mezzanine was pretty bland. All the walls and ceilings were white, which wasn’t especially attractive. The ceiling was lined with these ugly stone beams, though at least there weren’t any random pipes. And I have to admit, I liked the light fixtures hanging down – they added to the station’s old-fashioned feel. Also, the layout was simple: two staircases and two elevators to two separate platforms.
|Plus, there’s natural light that gets in there.|
Okay, so I’ve been giving this station a lot of praise. But that all ends once we get down to platform level – this station is dingy. For one thing, the whole platform is colored yellow. This is not a good color for a subway station, as Shawmut proves. It’s a really dull yellow, too, less “school bus yellow” and more “urine yellow.”
|Looking way, way down.|
And between the two platforms are all these sooty black buffers, with white poles going up to a dark, gross ceiling. The only redeeming factor about these platforms are the historical images along the walls. They’re accompanied by text giving information about points of interest in Dorchester. Really, though, this is not a nice place to wait for a train (but at least it’s clean).
|A train coming in, after a “20+” minute wait.|
Ridership: Probably due to its isolated location, this is the least-used station on the Red Line, and one of the least-used on the whole system. Every weekday, it only gets about 2,400 riders. Presumably the only people that use this station are those that live in the surrounding neighborhood.
Pros: The entrance and path are both fantastic. Also, I gave the mezzanine some flak, but it’s not actually that bad. Even the platform is somewhat improved by the presence of the historical images and information.
Cons: The platform is still pretty awful. Not as bad as some other ones on the system (I’ll never stop putting you down, Prudential), but still, I’m not a fan. Also, there aren’t any bus connections, but that’s because there’d be no reason to put a bus around here.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Nothing in the immediate vicinity, but this is the closest station to Codman Square, about a 10 minute walk away.
Final Verdict: 8/10
Okay, this station really grew on me as I went along with this review. I absolutely love the outside parts of this station (the entrance in particular), and the mezzanine does its job all right. The platform could definitely use some work, (especially since this station was renovated only a few years ago, in 2009 – did anyone think to fix the platform?) but you can’t beat the tranquil location and awesome entrance.
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Hi Miles, I'm one of the locals who worked with the T to get this station renovated. We didn't win every battle, and work on the platform area was one of those. Even so it looks much better than it did. Those columns were cracked and chipped and just getting the T to cover them with popcorn spray was a victory. I'm glad you like the head house. I hope you also walked along the tunnel cap between Mather and Melville and saw the gardens. They are tended by local volunteers.
Thanks for the comment! I wonder why the MBTA didn't want to update the platform…
PS As for local attractions, Dot2Dot cafe on Dorchester (Dot) Ave is a wonderful place for breakfast or brunch. Dot Ave is about three blocks east of Shawmut.
Hi Miles, thanks for your interest in the Shawmut T station. If you don't like the yellow tile on the platform walls, you should have seen the platforms before they were renovated in the early 1980's (this Red Line branch was shut for 6 mo. so the platforms could be expanded to handle 6-car trains). No tiles, just gray peeling paint and graffiti, concrete floors, and lots of water/damp. Neighbors have been working with the T for a long time to improve this station — when the headhouse was renovated in 2009, it didn't make sense to rip out tile that was/is still in good shape, better to spend scarce funds on other things that you have noted and that have made a big difference. Please visit in the Spring or Summer and see the gardens (both sides of the station along the walkways) that neigbors are continuing to improve!
Thanks for the comment! I really want to find some pictures of the old platform now to see just how awful it was. And I'll definitely check out the gardens in the spring – they sound really nice.
I lived in the neighborhood briefly in the mid-1980s, so I echo the previous comments on what Shawmut was, and the amazing transformation (whoa!- nice seats on the platform.) Back before the Ashmont Line was "tunneled" (actually cut-and-cover) this was a grade-level branch of the New Haven Railroad, and even back then Shawmut was a quiet neighborhood stop. Re. the "popcorn" spray on station walls and ceilings: the *worst* design decision made on rehabbed T stations, mostly the Red Line. It looks cheap, and is a dust and dirt magnet. It goes from white to filthy black in no time.
I grew up in the neighbourhood in the 60's & 70's – the station now and the area around it is now 1,000 % better. It was scary back in the day.