Woah, a subway station review! There aren’t many of these left… and yes, I know I still have to do a bunch of the downtown transfer stations. I say best for last, my friends, best for last. With that said, here’s a station that…well, it’s actually pretty good. Let’s take a look at Mass Ave.

Only 10 seconds left to cross! Gotta take the picture quickly.

Well, the first thing you’ll notice about the entrance is that it appears to have some ad space. Quite a lot of it, in fact. I mean, I could talk about the fact that it’s a nice-looking entrance with lots of glass, or the fact that there’s a convenient Subway restaurant right next to it, but I’m a bit distracted. Is anyone else thirsty for vitamin water?

Ah, that’s better.

Luckily, the side entrance isn’t so…corporate. The main entrance has a little plaza next it, which a few doors lead out to. It has a good amount of bike spaces, but the main purpose of this side entrance is to serve people coming from the south. See, there’s this nice park that runs along the Southwest Corridor, and this plaza is what it feeds into.


There’s another entrance to the station on the other side of Mass Ave. Interestingly, it doesn’t lead to the station itself – instead, it leads to an underpass that goes under the street to the main mezzanine on the other side! It’s pretty unnecessary, considering there’s a crosswalk right there, but the fact that there’s a sheltered way under Mass Ave directly to the station is great. Also…gosh, why do I keep thinking about vitamin water?

Just…ignore that pink thing on the left side of the picture.

This side of the station has a plaza, too. Again, it has bike spaces, plus a wastebasket as well. It also has a bunch of different plants lined along the station, which is great. And the plants continue down the Southwest Corridor Park as it heads further into the South End (the portion from Mass Ave to Back Bay is arguably the best one).

You’ve gotta be kidding me…

One of the station’s bus shelters features – what else? – another huge ad! What is it with this station and driving advertising down your throat? Well, anyway, Mass Ave has two buses that serve it: the 1 and the CT1. Both of them are crosstown routes down the station’s namesake street, and are useful for getting to many locations along the thoroughfare.

The underpass.

The station’s underpass under Mass Ave is…well, it’s better than other underpasses I’ve seen, we’ll put it that way. It’s reasonably well-lit, with the walls and floor made out of bricks. The ceiling, however. has some chipping paint issues, and it’s a bit low. Still, the fact that this underpass exists in the first place is great, especially considering it doesn’t have to.

The mezzanine.

Mass Ave’s mezzanine is surprisingly impressive. I mean, keep in mind, this is the Southwest Corridor – the most boring stretch of track on the MBTA! And yet, here we have a really great mezzanine with a high ceiling and a good amount of fare gates, plus lots of natural light. Good job sticking out from your peers, Mass Ave.

Down on the platform.
Heading from the mezzanine to the platform, there’s a set of stairs, an elevator, and an upwards escalator, as usual. Southwest Corridor stations usually have an art installation above the platform staircase, and Mass Ave is no exception. Here, there are three cylinder…things. I mean, they look great, and that’s what matters, right?
Boy, this looks familiar…
Mass Ave’s platform is what you would expect from any above-ground Southwest Corridor station. It’s a simple, mostly sheltered center platform, with those white curvy things connecting the roof to the walls. It has wastebaskets and benches, and…yeah. You know the drill.
No ads on this exit! Mwahaha.
On the other side of the platform is an exit-only turnstile that leads to a pedestrian overpass, which in turn leads to Gainsborough and Camden Streets. It really isn’t much, just a set of stairs out of the station leading to a turnstile and a door. Of course, the disadvantage here is that you can’t enter the station this way, meaning passengers from the south have to walk all the way up to the main entrance to get in.
A train coming in.
Station: Massachusetts Avenue
Ridership: This station has the fourth-highest ridership on the Southwest Corridor, and the highest for a non-major station. Of course, Mass Ave is a bit of an oddity in that it’s slotted right between the two hubs of Ruggles and Back Bay. Considering that, it makes the station seem all the more busy.
Pros: There’s actually quite a lot to like about this station. For one thing, it has a lot of entrances leading in all different directions, and they all look pretty good. And I know I made fun of all the ads, but I know it’s a good source of income for the MBTA. Besides that, the existence of an underpass beneath Mass Ave is great, and the station’s mezzanine is fantastic.
Cons: The platform is standard for the Southwest Corridor, which isn’t bad, but it’s certainly a bit boring. Other than that, I wish the staircase on the south side of the platform wasn’t exit-only, but at least it’s there, I suppose.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Well, mainly, this station can be used as an alternative to Symphony Hall. Since Mass Ave is so close to Symphony Station, this one can be used if you just don’t feel like dealing with the E. So…basically most of the time, since as we all know, the E isn’t the best.
Final Verdict: 9/10
I think this might be the best station on the Southwest Corridor. It’s not my favorite station (that honor goes to Forest Hills), but I think it’s the most consistently good. For unlike Forest Hills, which has some big problems despite its amazingness, Mass Ave has almost nothing wrong with it. My only main problem is really that exit to the footbridge. What if the MBTA replaced the exit door with a single fare gate? That would mean people would be able to enter that way, saving them a fairly long extra walk.
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