Seems like you can’t escape the brutalism on the Orange Line, can you? Down in the Southwest Corridor you’ve got lots of concrete stations – and then up north there are all those other concrete stations. Oak Grove is your typical suburban terminus, and it has plenty of concrete to go around.
|Oh, it’s that typical Orange Line platform.|
The platform is standard northern Orange Line fare. The main portion is sheltered, with a few wastebaskets and recycling bins scattered about. There are some normal benches with interesting paintings on them, but as this is a northern Orange Line station, you’ve got those pointless bench shelters, too. The lesser-used part of the platform is completely open with nothing but a few lights. Oak Grove also has an elusive third platform for the Commuter Rail, but it’s pretty much never used and is blocked off from the mezzanine.
|Um…am I supposed to be back here?|
The elevator is really out of the way of the platform. You have to go down this hallway that goes under the mezzanine, and it leads to this dark area that feels kind of foreboding. It does have a great place where you can stand and watch the trains go by, however. As for the elevator itself, it was small and really, really bright. For an MBTA elevator, then, it wasn’t that bad.
|Not much going on here on a rainy Thursday afternoon.|
Up the stairs, there’s an open area. It doesn’t have any benches for waiting for the train inside, unfortunately, but there is a convenience store. It was closed when I was here, though, as was its flower shop companion. You can also see the stairs that go down to the third platform, which are blocked off.
|Aw, yeah. I heard the Commuter Rail train zooming in and immediately rushed to the window to get it going past.|
The mezzanine is big, especially considering Oak Grove’s ridership. It has six fare gates and four fare machines lined up along the wall. As for the architecture, I’d say it’s a mixed bag. To be honest, this mezzanine is really quite bland, but all your attention is drawn to the many windows in it. Are the windows only there to distract you from the blandness? If so, then well-played, MBTA, well-played.
|The small bus stop for the 132.|
On the Washington Street side of the station, there’s a bus stop for the 132 up to Stoneham. The stop itself doesn’t have any benches, but there are some just inside Oak Grove for people to wait. Also on this side of the station are some standard bike racks, some newspaper boxes, and a small parking lot. Don’t worry, there’s plenty more parking on the other side.
|The busway on the other side.|
The other side of the station has a proper busway for the 131, 136, and 137. It has a couple of concrete benches (lots o’ concrete), plus there are more in a sheltered area inside the station. The busway has a wastebasket, as well as a few more newspaper boxes.
|The view of the station from the parking lot.|
This and Wellington seem to be the Orange Line’s main commuter park and ride stations. Wellington has more spaces, but Oak Grove has a sizeable amount: 788 of them. It also has a Pedal and Park, so presumably it gets a lot of bike traffic as well.
|One of the station’s pedestrian paths.|
There are a few pedestrian paths around Oak Grove in order to serve neighborhoods to the east. I saw the southern one, which leads to a small residential area. It’s very convenient, except that it closes at 8 every night. That means that if people are coming back from Boston late, they have to go around. There’s a second pedestrian path a little further north that goes to a residential complex. This one is open all the time, I believe.
|Clearly the ridership here at Oak Grove is astronomical.|
Station: Oak Grove
Ridership: Okay, so I got on the train at Wellington, and it was packed to the brims. After we left Malden Center, the train was near-empty. So yeah, Malden Center certainly dwarfs Oak Grove in terms of ridership. That said, Oak Grove’s ridership isn’t that bad – 6,590 passengers per weekday. It’s better than a lot of other Orange Line stations.
Pros: It’s nice that they decided to extend the Orange Line past Malden Center to almost-Melrose. Oak Grove serves residential areas, and has seen some development over the years (nowhere near the levels of Alewife, but a few apartments have sprung up). It has quite a lot of parking, a Pedal and Park, and some good bus connections for what it’s worth (considering that there’s a massive bus hub one station south).
Cons: It’s that good ol’ Haymarket North brutalism. Yeah, Oak Grove as all the concrete and blandness you’ve come to know and love.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Nah, there’s nothing of note around Oak Grove. It’s mostly residential, but it looks like you can find businesses if you walk far enough.
Final Verdict: 7/10
Okay, so brutalism doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for all stations. I gotta admit, aside from the architecture, Oak Grove is pretty good. It serves a lot of residential areas, and it’s the closest rapid transit station to Melrose. And even though Wellington is probably the main park-and-ride station on the northern Orange Line, Oak Grove still has a big parking lot that is well-used.
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