For my first guest post, I decided to take a look at Windsor Gardens! Located on the Franklin Line, Windsor Gardens is a very unique station. This is the only place, at least on the Commuter Rail, where an apartment complex has its own station! However, the reason I chose this station for my first guest post is because I see it as an example of a station that has the potential to be a much greater than it is but currently isn’t, as we shall see!
Right off the bat, there is one amenity Windsor Gardens is noticeably missing: parking! While at least some of the stations that supposedly have no parking do in fact have a small gravel lot for a few cars, the nearby parking areas are strictly for residents of the apartment complex only. I don’t believe that parking is necessarily a big deal for reasons I’ll explain later, however it is one of the few stations that doesn’t offer it.
The platform itself is pretty plain with two wastebaskets. I knew it didn’t have an overhang, but I was surprised to find that it does have a shelter. I don’t know how new it is, but if it’s been around all along then either I forgot that it was there or I somehow never noticed it on my many rides past it when I was a frequent rider. Unfortunately, there is no handicapped access here.
|Windsor Gardens Station, looking west.
Looking closer, the shelter is pretty nice! It’s almost completely enclosed, very clean, and has a schedule bolted to the wall. It’s even lit up on the inside. This is a nice place to wait for the train that’s not exposed to all the elements!
|This is a nice little shelter!
Growing up in the area, I always wondered why despite a population difference of only about 4,000 residents, Norwood has three stations but Walpole only has 1.0001 (the .0001 being Plimptonville- after hearing what Miles has to say about Hastings, I can’t wait to see what he says about Plimptonville and don’t want to spoil anything)! However, Windsor Gardens is within walking distance of the Walpole line, which brings me to an important point.
While this station was built to serve the apartment complex, it doesn’t do as well as it should in serving the neighborhood. There has been some controversy in recent years over an unofficial entrance on Ryan Place, a cul-de-sac on the opposite side of the tracks. For years some passengers would cross and cut through a hole in the fence. A local resident asked the town to put in a real entrance there, but the selectmen decided instead to put a new fence up instead, citing safety concerns and the fact that the MBTA did not ask them to put an entrance there. While I would hate to see the cul-de-sac become a drop-off and pick-up spot for the station, and I understand that there can be some concerns with passengers crossing the tracks, I wish that there had been a greater discussion between the MBTA, the Town of Norwood, and area residents to find a solution there that works for almost everyone.
|Where the unofficial second entrance used to be.
I should finish by talking a bit about the apartment complex. Windsor Gardens was built in the 1960s and is a prime example of transit-oriented development before it was popular. According to a blog post I read, it is home to about 2,000 residents. It doesn’t have the stores and restaurants that most transit-oriented developments have, but having your own train station is a very unique selling point!
|Another shot of the platform, looking east.
Station: Windsor Gardens
Ridership: According to the 2014 Blue Book (the most recent I could find), it has 624 daily riders. Only Readville, Endicott, and Plimptonville see fewer riders on the Franklin Line.
Pros: I like the shelter, and it must be pretty neat to have a stop specifically for your apartment complex.
Cons: No handicapped access, and no inbound trains after 6:11pm. Also, why is it in Zone 4 while the rest of Norwood is in Zone 3? Since the station lacks parking and isn’t served by a bus, most of its commuters walk there, so having a large walkshed is important. Unfortunately, blocking off the other side of the tracks only hurts that; it’s about a mile walk from the clock tower in East Walpole to the end of Ryan Place, but ¾-mile longer using the main entrance.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Not a lot, the area is mostly residential.
Final Verdict: 4/10
While it may not function as a park-and-ride, it still functions as a walk-and-ride, and to a lesser extent a kiss-and-ride. If this station had handicapped access, and if it had an official entrance on the Ryan Place side, I would gladly give this a 7 or an 8. But it doesn’t. A station can’t be everything for everyone, but it should be as close to that as possible.