Natick Center asks the question humans have been asking for millennia: why? More specifically, why does this station make absolutely no sense? I mean…
|What the heck is this platform?!|
The inbound platform of this station is just…what?? Most of it is high-level, which would usually be a good thing, right? Except the part of it that’s not high-level is the part that meets the tracks. That’s right, in order to actually get on the train, you have to descend a small staircase (way too narrow to handle morning rush commuters) to the low-level section. Are. You. Serious??????
|Along the platform.|
The high-level portion of the platform isn’t even good. Sure, there’s a nice mural alongside it, but the whole thing is way too narrow and the paint is chipping to an extreme degree on the shelter ceiling. Meanwhile, the outbound platform is just a rusty decrepit staircase leading down to a total of: 1 bench; 2 wastebaskets; a few signs; and that’s it.
|The station’s flowery footbridge.|
I will say that the footbridge used to cross to the other side of the tracks is rather nice, with potted plants along its walls. It appears that the station doesn’t offer enough bike parking, though, since people have locked up their bikes right on the bridge! The southern side of the tracks features a touching plaza with memorials for Natick residents who served in various wars.
|The entrance to the inbound platform.|
The inbound platform’s entrance is just a hodgepodge of random things. You’ve got a packed recycling bin, two completely different wastebaskets, a few newspaper boxes, an electrical box, a schedule, an alert about train boarding platforms, a sign saying not to lock bikes in the area (seems like lots of people follow that one), and the MWRTA’s horrible system map. This station is served by that system’s 10 and 11 routes.
|An inbound train…from above.|
|A train leaving the horrible outbound platform.|
Station: Natick Center
Ridership: As the fourth-busiest station on the Worcester Line, a lot of people have to subject themselves to this mess: 1,077 inbound riders per weekday, to be exact. I am so sorry to all those folks (although it has to be said that for a station with no parking, that’s some incredible ridership).
Pros: The plaza is nice…
Cons: Come on, that plaza isn’t even part of the station! Look, everything about this place is bad. The entrances are bad, the staircases are bad, the outbound platform is bad…and don’t even get me started on the inbound side. I think there’s some sort of reason involving freight trains why Worcester Line stations can’t be high-level, but with the closing of the Beacon Park railyard, would that change? All of the new Worcester Line constructions further toward Boston are high-level! Well, regardless, the layout of that platform is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen on the MBTA – make it all high-level or all low-level, not both!
Nearby and Noteworthy: One thing about this station is that it’s right in Natick Center, so there’s a huge variety of buildings and businesses right when you exit.
Final Verdict: 2/10
Natick Center makes absolutely no sense. This is a horrible station that’s almost mind-bogglingly nonsensical. The inbound platform…why? Boarding takes so long with the current layout! Tie that to the high ridership here, and it seems like Natick Center is a prime location for a renovation.
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Miles, this station (the highest ridership for a completely inaccessible commuter rail station) is under a comprehensive redesign. The new design will have high platforms and multiple connections to street level. Your criticisms of the current station are spot on, but help is on the way.
My grandpa’s company made the bridge! Thanks for saying you like it.