The poor Stoughton Line has been having a rough couple of weeks. No one has given it much thought in the wake of the crippling Red Line derailment, but it seems like there are delayed trains on the weekday-only line on a daily basis. Riders have even started a Facebook page to keep track of late trains, which they say the MBTA underestimates. Now, I don’t ride the Stoughton Line, so I can’t speak on that…but I can speak on the fact that the line’s final stop is not good.
Start with the positives, though: Stoughton has a really impressive building. Constructed out of granite in 1888, this structure is gorgeous, right down to the “Stoughton” sign over the entrance that sadly can’t be seen very well in the dark photo above. This is also the only train station in Massachusetts with a clock tower (CORRECTION: Forest Hills has one too), although the clock doesn’t actually work. The problem with the building? It’s not open, and it hasn’t been for years. Hopefully the town can do something with it now that they’ve bought it.
Stoughton is one of the rare Commuter Rail stations that’s located in a downtown, but also has a ton of parking. The station has 361 spaces spread out between multiple lots spanning a few blocks downtown. Parking costs $4 per day on weekdays and $2 on weekends. There are also bike racks (and a few benches) underneath the awning of the building.
The station’s low-level platform is between Wyman and Canton Streets. It’s fine; most of it is sheltered, and underneath it are newspaper boxes, maps and schedules, and a digital sign. What’s missing, though, are benches. And this isn’t even one of those terminals where the trains hang out at the station for a while and you can just board – no, the trains go beyond it, so passengers do have to wait here. Not having even a single bench on the platform is unacceptable.
So…Stoughton’s platform is bisected by Wyman Street. And the mini-high is on the second half of the platform. Okay, okay, okay: on the one hand, I get it. The station’s right in a downtown, and you need space for a mini-high, and you gotta expand the platform somehow. Sure. But…that doesn’t change the fact that whenever a train is stopped here, it spills out over the road, simultaneously blocking traffic on it and on the next block, since that crossing goes down too! And because of that, trains have to continue beyond the station to a tiny siding to lay over! The crossing on Wyman Street doesn’t even have gates, I guess because the train blocks the way by default? But that could lead to nasty situations when it’s approaching the station and someone thinks they can beat it…
This second platform is a lot shorter than the other one, and aside from a sign and a wastebasket, all it has is the mini-high. Once again, though, there are serious problems: sure, it has a bench, but the shelter is tiny and not at all effective at keeping rain off the platform. Even worse, it’s hard to call the platform accessible when the entrance to it from the street is blocked by the pole for the level crossing light. People can walk around it, but it’ll be a tough time getting a wheelchair past that.
Ridership: It’s below average as far as the Providence(/Stoughton) Line goes, but 917 riders per weekday is still great for Commuter Rail standards. Plus, the station gets fewer trains than the rest of the Providence Line, so that’s more riders per trip. And for what it’s worth, Stoughton is by far the busier station between it and Canton Center, the other stop on the branch.
Pros: That building, man. I really hope Stoughton goes through with its redevelopment, because that thing deserves to have something great in it. Besides that, I guess the amount of parking is decent, but if Stoughton ever revitalizes its downtown, those lots are taking up valuable space. The BAT 14 bus runs past here on its way to Brockton from Canton.
Cons: Although I had a multitude of problems with Stoughton, none better encapsulate the awfulness of this station than the platform arrangement. The station bisects a road…whose level crossing gets no gates…and also blocks wheelchairs from accessing the mini-high easily…and trains end up jamming two major downtown streets when they’re stopped here. Phase 2 of South Coast Rail would supposedly move the station south, solving the level crossing problem, and YES, that can’t happen soon enough!
Nearby and Noteworthy: I sorta hinted at the fact that Stoughton’s downtown is kinda dead, and…yeah, it is. There are a few restaurants that don’t look especially notable, so I’ll say the Stoughton Historical Society museum instead – maybe it can make what seems like a boring town a little more interesting. Be aware that it has very limited hours, though.
Final Verdict: 2/10
Harsh? Maybe. Deserved? Probably. Even the things I like about Stoughton have caveats: the building is abandoned at the moment, while the parking lots take up a ton of downtown land. And the things I don’t like? That platform arrangement alone is enough to make this station one of the worst on the Commuter Rail!
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