Is it possible for a transit center built in 2010 to look like it came from the 1970s? The Holyoke Transportation Center tries to answer this question, and clearly, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

*Ahem.* Case in point…

Yeah…this is it. Gotta love that…floor pattern. And the…wall colors. And the…seat designs. Okay, granted, the transportation center was retrofitted from an old fire station, and I imagine they just didn’t bother to change the decor.

A corner of the room.

Okay, but still, this place just feels dated! I mean, we’ve got some perfectly adequate vending machines, but then the departure TV screen is just ripped from a Windows 7 computer with some sort of notification no one bothered to close. Then on the wall, there’s a master schedule of all the PVTA Holyoke routes, which is great, but also random maps and directions for the X90 (which does go to Holyoke) and the R14E (which doesn’t go anywhere near Holyoke, and also doesn’t exist anymore…I hope they took its map down now! That being said, why was it up in the first place?).

Another corner.

On the other side of the room, there are lots of PVTA schedules, as well as a lone security guard with nothing better to do at this quiet hub than to use his phone. Hey, I don’t blame him! There was also a ticket booth, but it was closed because the ticket agent went on maternity leave and the PVTA didn’t bother to replace her. Sigh…

The bathroom hallway.

There’s also a hallway that leads to some bathrooms and a water fountain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what the bathrooms were like because they’re only open on weekdays from 9 to 5. Well, darn it! The bathroom picture is the most important part of any station review!

The outdoor area.

There isn’t all that much to say about the outdoor waiting area next to the building. It’s got benches, bike racks, and another Holyoke master schedule, and that’s about it. I will say that the brick transportation center building is quite charming, though!

The boarding area.

The Holyoke Transportation Center’s boarding area is a prime example of form over function. Sure, it looks pretty, but all of the bus boarding bays are really narrow with no benches or anything – just a little wastebasket at each one. I do like how little alarms go off when a bus is leaving, but other than that, this outdoor area just isn’t much.

That’s a nice building!

PVTA Station: Holyoke Transportation Center

Ridership: Although lots of routes converge here, I’ve never seen the hub be all that busy. Maybe it’s the fact that there are three different places to wait (the inside, the benches outside, and at the berths themselves), or maybe it’s that the hub is just kind of a quiet place, but it never feels crowded at all.

Pros: The outdoor areas all look great. The inclusion of master schedules everywhere is helpful for knowing when departures are, and the screen inside, as ugly as it is, is even more helpful. There’s plenty of seating inside the building, and it never gets too crowded.

Cons: Ugh, the decor on the inside is just…ech! The PVTA just doesn’t seem to care all that much about this place – they didn’t bother to replace the ticket inspector, they stuck a lone security guard in here with nothing to do (not that the PVTA doesn’t do that in other places, too), and they close the bathrooms on weekends, even though that aforementioned security guard could literally make sure no one loiters in them!

Nearby and Noteworthy: Downtown Holyoke is a weird place. I don’t think I’ve ever discussed it on this blog, but it’s kinda like…Lawrence. Except weirder. And more abandoned-feeling. Uhh…okay, having taken a walk through the downtown, all I can say is that it’s a hard place to describe.

Final Verdict: 5/10
The Holyoke Transportation Center is in a convenient location and it serves lots of bus routes, but it just offers a…subpar experience. I can’t stand that the outdoor berths have no seating of any kind (people often just sit on the railings), and I simply refuse to believe that the inside wasn’t designed 40 years ago! At least the outside looks good.

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