Every Braintree branch station was originally opened with some form of parking (Quincy Center’s garage has since closed, but the point still stands). For the more northerly stations, the parking lots are somewhat secondary to the neighborhoods around them. But Quincy Adams and Braintree are basically dominated by massive parking garages. Today we’ll be taking a look at the latter.
|The busway. Look how high that ceiling is!
I came into this station from the busway, so we’ll start there. And I have to say, this has to be the most overblown busway on the entire system. For only two bus connections (the 230 and 236), we get a big long road, a massively high ceiling, and countdown clocks for the Red Line. (Yes!!!) I guess I can’t complain, since it is rather nice, and certainly straightforward. It’s just odd that they would put so much into a busway served by only two routes.
|The footbridge and T logo in the sunset.
From the busway, there’s a footbridge that leads out to the parking garage. The garage, by the way, is huge. It has 1,322 spaces, and yet it still gets overcrowded, with a less than 1% availability rate on weekdays. There’s a big T logo on the roof of the garage that probably isn’t visible from any roads, but it’s still kinda cool. There are a bunch of road signs advertising the station, though.
|The ramps to the Commuter Rail platform.
The Commuter Rail platform is slightly north of the Red Line platform. It’s accessed by two ramps (one from the footbridge and one directly from the busway) that pass over Union Street. The scary part of getting to the platform is a level crossing over one of the tracks. Make sure you look both ways…
|The Commuter Rail platform, with some freight on the right.
The Commuter Rail platform is pretty standard, as far as Commuter Rail platforms go. It’s a high-level center platform, with a simple shelter going along some of it. It also has an unsheltered portion that seems to be there just so longer trains can fit.
|No Commuter Rail trains, but there was this cool CSX sighting.
As for the Red Line platform, I believe the busway is the only place you can enter to get to it. Outside of the entrance, there are a few newspaper boxes, as well as a wastebasket. Also, buried in the snow was a fallen sign for the convenience store in the station. I don’t know what it was doing outside – it seemed pretty useless.
|The interesting waiting area.
Before we get to the mezzanine proper, though, I’d like to mention the station’s waiting area outside of fare control. It features some payphones, a bunch of benches, and a TV that was showing football when I was at the station. There’s also the aforementioned convenience store, with the generic name of “Braintree Cafe and Convenience.” I don’t think we’ll ever see a name as cool as the one at JFK/UMASS.
The mezzanine is fine. Its fare machines are sort of spread around the place, anticipating people coming in from different directions. Both the mezzanine and the waiting area suffer from bland architecture, but it’s not unclean or anything. Past the fare gates, there are two sets of stairs on either side heading up to the platform. Interestingly (and ingeniously), one of them has an up escalator and one has a down escalator.
|The unique-looking platform.
I have to say, Braintree’s platform is pretty unique. Pretty much the whole thing is sheltered by a white ceiling, which leads down to similar-colored walls. As you can see in the picture above, it’s not the sort of architecture you see too often on the MBTA, if at all. Benches get their own enclosed areas, which are much nicer than at Wollaston (among other stations). Since both platforms are inbound (there’s a crossover to the north), they have these nice red “Next Train” signs to let you know where trains are arriving. Nice touch, Braintree. Nice touch.
|Night was falling and my camera wasn’t cooperating. This was the best I could get.
Ridership: Pretty much as expected, this station’s ridership is fairly low. There are about 5,125 riders per day here, and it’s ranked just below Broadway. The Commuter Rail ridership is much lower, with only 72 people boarding here per day. The Blue Book only counts inbound trips for the Commuter Rail, though, so there might be more people who head outbound from here.
Pros: There are quite a few amenities here. The busway is great (if a bit overkill), the waiting room is pretty cool, and the platform is unique. This is also a great park and ride station, since it’s right next to a Route 3 interchange, and the garage is huge.
Cons: The Commuter Rail platform is kind of far from the Red Line platform, and the level crossing required to get to it is sort of scary to cross. Also, the mezzanine and waiting room have fairly bland architecture, but this station never feels dingy at all.
Nearby and Noteworthy: The surroundings of the station aren’t pedestrian-friendly at all, but Bugaboo Creek is a 15 minute walk away. It’s the only remaining location in greater Boston, but I do have to complain that they stopped singing the birthday song. They stopped singing the birthday song!
Final Verdict: 7/10
I think I like this station a lot more than I should. I normally hate these park and ride stations with nothing much else of note, but I do like Braintree. Indeed, it does have a lot of good qualities. The waiting room, in particular, is a nice touch.
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