Quincy Adams

Today, I took a trip down to Quincy Adams. I did it solely for the sake of the ride a good month-plus after I last rode for riding’s sake. Let’s just say nobody is really missing much.

Systems built over the last four decades or so always have a station or several built largely for the purpose of a park and ride crowd; the Red Line has two, this and Alewife. For that role, Quincy Adams performs well with easy access to Route 3 and I-93 for those heading from a swath of points south going from Rhode Island to Cape Cod. While the aforementioned Alewife has seen new development rise around it in the midst of existing development, Quincy Adams hasn’t just avoided it, it willingly cut off its own legs.

There’s a pedestrian bridge to areas east of Quincy Adams that has been locked for about 25 years, the consequence of reactive thinking and illegal parking. Never has the MBTA evaluated unlocking it for the benefit of residents whom have to drive or walk over a mile out of their way to access a station they can see. While there are some areas within walking distance to the west, accessing anything on foot with a huge interchange nearby is always a bit of a risk not to mention that said interchange cuts some areas off. Though the nature of that area is heavily residental, imagine if for example pedestrian access to Melrose from Oak Grove was cut off.

As for Quincy Adams itself, the station seems like an rough draft, open-air hybrid of Alewife and Davis on the other end of the line. The mezzanine and garages seem like a shrunken down version of Alewife with less retail and less overall traffic in with constrained foot traffic and only one bus feeding into the station. the platform itself is Davis in draft mode right down to the diagonal signs/benches in the middle of the platform thought without the artwork that Davis is known for, instead with a hole in the center begging to be filled. To some degree, filling them would help a little as it would give something to write home about here.

Station: Quincy Adams
Rating (1-10): 3

Ridership: This is a big park-and-ride and little else. There are some residences and businesses to the west which drive nominal traffic. The one true bus* that utilizes Quincy Adams, the 238, is a connector that serve South Shore Plaza, western Braintree, Randolph, and Avon as well as Quincy Center and this brings in some riderhip not wanting to pay high Commuter Rail prices.

Pros: If you’re along the I-95, Route 1, and Route 3 corridors, this station is a godsend as it has ample parking spaces and is relatively clean and very well-kept.

Cons: The locked gate to Independence Avenue and the general lack of bus access into the station. The 238 has a lower rate of service as it should and the just from my limited exposure to the station it seems like it was built for the park and ride and little else.

Nearby and Noteworthy: There’s a BJ’s and a Home Depot within walking distance. There literally is nothing else of note. That says a ton.

* There is one outbound-only run of the 210 that runs after-hours mainly for the purpose of getting closed station employees to Caddigan Yard in Braintree and little else.

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Beachmont

Let’s be honest: Life’s gotten a bit too busy and strained to devote energy and finances to finding places to go and stuff to ride as of late. I could rant about the Boston job market being a tough nut to crack, or I can actually provide relevant content. The latter always wins out, so today we’ll be taking a trip to Revere’s southeastern parts, namely Beachmont.

Beachmont is the southernmost of Revere’s three Blue Line stations, not that far from the Boston line. As one of a handful of remaining elevate stations, the character of the neighborhood can be summed up from a view on the train; look east and you see a couple of liquor stores, an Italian bakery reflecting the area’s past, and a Mexican restaurant reflecting some elements of its present…and a lot of houses in the distance. Look west and you see some roofs, the northern boundary of Suffolk Downs and its stables, and an abandoned Shaw’s which closed a few years back. Par for the course for the area. Descend to street level and on the surface, it’s much of the same. One of said roofs is a roast beef restaurant and wedged between the other side of the station facing the intersection of Winthrop Avenue and Bennington Street is the requisite Dunkin’ Donuts, one of the ones closer to the station proper. Near the station is a parking lot which serves as a bit of a concession for the limited parking down the street at Suffolk Downs or the lack of parking at Revere Beach. Otherwise, to the east residential, to the west, horses. However, Beachmont has one other attraction: Itself.

Of the relatively recent rehab jobs on the Blue Line, pending what happens at Orient Heights, Beachmont was the best job. From the usage of the “history” tiles depicting a BRB&L locomotive, an 0500, and an 0600 which are also present at Revere Beach, to the roominess of the lobby relative to its usage, to the fact there are two countdown displays instead of one so the next four trains entering the station can be displayed, the MBTA seemed to take extra care of Beachmont. While there are exploding tiles outside, the fact some tiles were never laid and persons wrote in the concrete is a nice, local touch. It may not have the glassy “suburban picnic pavilion” canopies that Orient Heights is getting and it hasn’t been turned into Alewife Jr. as Wonderland has, but Beachmont is still a station worth visiting even if it is for itself.

Station: Beachmont 
Rating (1-10): 7

Ridership: Heavily locals in the neighborhoods to the east and those parking in the lot. Some Suffolk Downs workers may find this to be an easier way to get to work, especially those whom work in the stables. A little further lies the back entrance into the Suffolk Downs big box complex (Target/Stop & Shop) for this is a quicker/cheaper/more frequent way of access for many though a bit of a hike. There is one bus that stops here, the 119 which loops through the Beachmont neighborhood and works its way across town to Linden Square and Northgate Shopping Center.

Pros: Elevated stations have a certain charm and it’s a shame Boston has hated them so much. While a lot of the decor repeats itself in nearby stations, the fact it’s elevated makes it extra special, especially the sounds from above at street level. Head into Beachmont and you’ll find a nice, picturesque neighborhood of which this station is a great perk. However…

Cons: Neighborhood stations often have a downside of being heavily local to the point of there being no “there” there. Some of what Beachmont goes through repeats itself with the Wollastons and Savin Hills of the system as well as some of the lesser-used Green Line surface stops and that sometimes makes finding pluses a stretch. That said…

Nearby and Noteworthy: That “Italian Bakery” mentioned earlier is Toretta’s, a long-established establishment with really good pastries and ice cream. One of those “roofs” visible from the train is Beachmont Roast Beef, a typical North Shore roast beef and sub joint with good food for cheap with slightly-outdated decor and the sort of place one should go if seeking roast beef (as opposed to the overrated Kelly’s) Both of these are worth the trip!

North Station

Tonight, the Bruins will take to the ice for a (full) season of hockey which hopefully unlike the last one will lead to another Stanley Cup and a banner raising. Of the over 17,000 going to a game, I would venture to guess that two-thirds will walk outside of TD Garden concourse to make their way to North Station. The majority of those will continue outside to the “Superstation” underneath for access to the Green and Orange lines as opposed to the northside commuter rail terminus they passed. This is a story of two stations….or four….or five. Cue the Zombie Nation!

Right off the Garden concourse is the mainline North Station, commuter rail hub for points north (and thanks to the listing nature of the Fitchburg Line, some which are actually WSW such as Belmont and Waltham) and terminal for Amtrak’s Downeaster to Maine. The relatively recent remodel has made the station look pretty modern while actually giving enough space for commuters and event goers to peacefully exist on certain nights. This is quite the improvement over the cramped concourse from the mid-1980s rebuild of North Station, one built without ever thinking it would be attached to an arena with 3500 more seats than its predecessor.

Under North Station and right down the street is the subway station of the same name. The current incarnation of North Station [Under] is one of the crown jewels of the MBTA system with its modern decor and its ingenious cross platform transfer setup between the inbound Green (C and E branches) and Orange Lines and not much effort to get between the two lines going outbound. Given the double duty that it has to do its namesake rail terminal right above and the Garden right behind that – often with both colliding – it does its job well and is probably the most well thought out transfer station on The T, granted it has decades over its competition. In terms of transit/arena access, it isn’t to the level of Madison Square Garden/Penn Station or Forum Centre Bell/Lucien L’Allier ingeniousness, but compared to others it might be seen as enviable. However, it always hasn’t been the case.

Growing up in eastern New York, I was blessed enough to see and use both “original” North Stations, the Causeway Street El station and the old surface station (I also was lucky enough to tour the Original Garden). Seeing the skyline and both Gardens – and for a couple years, seeing both was possible – was a sight that sadly future generations won’t be able to see from that vantage point. However, the cost of the charm and the views and that area being defined by the El had its prices: there was a single staircase for entry and exit, a single token machine, and if you wanted to transfer between lines you had a frustrating barricaded maze which made Haymarket look good. As much as it was functionally obsolete and had to be replaced due to neglect, the last time I rode through on the El several months before it was closed I felt that with it’s demise a bit of Boston would die with it. This isn’t all from the past. The surface station, after a while became a frustrating relic when you just knew that having four terminals was a bit too redundant and my one experience with it was visiting the aforementioned Garden hearing my Mom and Aunt act confused about why there’d be two distinctly different North Stations.

Flash forward to the present. I’ve used the current North Station several times but am impressed about how there was a lot of foresight in expanding it to the size that it is. In contrast to the “Kenmore Krush” after Red Sox games, using North Station after a Bruins or Celtics game is a pleasure as there’s more than enough room to for people to wait for their trains comfortably and safely. The joint platform has semi-intended benefits for the Green Line as it can have two 2-car trains on the platform with plenty of room to spare. Even those headed outbound have a good amount of platform space to sprawl out on. Having dealt with the transfer choke point in DC with the Gallery Place/Verizon Center combo and having done the walk of shame from Core States First Union Wachovia Wells Fargo Center to Pattison AT&T in Philly in a monsoon, North Station looks pretty great in contrast and deserves all the appreciation it can get. Let’s go Bruins!

Station: North Station
Rating (1-10): 8 – a solid 8 for both commuter rail and under.

Pros: The building of the Superstation and the enlarging/semi-segregation of the commuter rail terminal has made what once was a debacle a manageable experience. The Blackhawks won the Cup, but their transit situations (long walks to stations and special buses) are primitive in contrast to Boston and fans I know are envy in what Bostonians have. Also, during the week the station is the terminus of the 4 to downtown and the Waterfront and the Charles River TMA bus to CambridgeSide and Kendall Square.

Cons: Outside of some minor wear and tear (chipped tiles), putting 145′ of Green Line train on a 400′ platform during middays and nights makes sometimes getting on or off a challenge. On the outbound platform, the first car stop is far from the staircases/escalators while inbound there sometimes is a mad dash for a car. And yet it isn’t as bad as the Shady Grove-bound platform at Gallery Place in DC…

Nearby and Noteworthy: There are many, many places to either watch a game if you can’t get tickets or to go before/after a game if you do have tickets. My recommendation is The Fours, sponsor of trivia on Bruins games on NESN among others.

Oak Grove

Two weeks ago, assorted circumstances brought me out to Oak Grove. It wasn’t my first time – I had used it right after I moved – but this time gives a chance to do a review which goes a bit off-topic.

As part-time work barely pays the bills, I’ve been looking for work and took a chance on a temp-to-perm assignment just north of Oak Grove and the Malden/Melrose line. Coming off the train, I saw the current state of chaos of the platform which has reduced the station to a one-track operation as the other side is being refurbished. While this was long overdue, the original mid 1970s platform was starting to break off and rot away, it does create some aggravation in the station. In terms of overall design, it’s the end of the Haymarket North extension and can be described best as “Malden Center in a depression” – the two have an identical setup but Oak Grove’s sunken while Malden has more of an “end of the line” feeling than Oak Grove ever will which might double its depression.

Heading upstairs, there are two ways to go: Turn left and you’ll be at Oak Grove’s parking lot, a busway for the 131, 136, and 137 buses, and its very rarely used Commuter Rail platform which only is in use when the Orange Line is down or in emergencies and Winter Street. Turn right from there and walk across the town line you end up with the growing community of apartments near outer stations wooing people with rents which are high for the area but low versus the core of Boston. For people headed north, there is a very long tangent which ends up becoming Banks Place in Melrose, meeting Main Street next to Hunt’s Photo & Video and continuing into the picture-perfect experience which is Melrose. However, this job wasn’t at Hunts.

Turn right and you end up on Washington Street where there is a street stop for the 132 bound for Melrose’s west side and Stoneham. It’s a mix of residential and industrial and on the right side of the street you can see the operations of Oak Grove Yard and see the wearing-apart roofs of the 01200’s while in the station. We’ll walk, we’ll go in for an interview, we’ll ace the interview then walk back and smell the obvious smell of hot dogs from the vendor just past fare control.

Flash forward a few days. Do the actual job. Realize that there’s nothing near there to get lunch but that’s more than okay. Finish the work only to find that this was a test, you failed because you didn’t think of doing it their way (which they knew you were rusty on), walk down Washington Street. Once you get within sight of the platforms, get a call.

“The client just didn’t see you as a fit and is ending the assignment.”

Before I finish this review: I know I’m an outsider. I know I’m male and applying for fields that are female-heavy (administrative, HR, and nonprofit). But how is it that someone with a Masters can’t even get a viable chance in this town is aggravating. I need full-time work and the money but I think the fact that my resume shows I’m not from here is hurting me. If anyone wants to help, please drop me a line because I can really use a job or support or whatever since though we’re in a recession, my circle of friends (almost all not here) sure as heck aren’t feeling it.

Get back to Oak Grove and get my old job back. Then wait 45 minutes for a 136/137 to come with a huge crowd waiting for it. Though they had one of the loaner RTS’s they got from Charlestown, I don’t get why these problems happen out of Fellsway more than others, it was awkward and shows that a) commuter rail fares may be too high or b) Melrose, Wakefield, and Reading could use better bus service rather than the current setup of one bus every 30 minutes combined in rush. Great towns but they can use a bit more in the means of transit. You then realize that unless you’re headed into town and Wellington won’t do, who knows when you’ll next be back to Oak Grove.

Station: Oak Grove
Rating (1-10): 5

Ridership: A good mix of demographics and by modes coming in. The lot is always largely full though not congested by Alewife or Quincy Adams standards and like the former there is enough bicycle ridership that it recently gained a bike cage. The four bus routes serving the station get healthy ridership and there is a decent amount of pedestrian ridership as well especially since new apartments (and soon condominiums) have been built across the town line to take advantage of both Oak Grove and of Melrose’s schools.

Pros: For an end of the line station, it’s tranquil. Not overblown like Alewife, not an out-of-town magnet like Riverside or Braintree, no traffic nightmares like how Wonderland and Forest Hills can get (though the beach gives Wonderland the edge there. In contrast to Ashmont, it’s more suburban and of course there are no PCC’s.

Cons: Outside of the current renovation, here’s a big deal: Neither Malden or Melrose has road signs on Main Street at Winter or Banks pointing to people that in fact a train station exists here. The first time I actually used Oak Grove, my wife and I got lost and ended up at Malden Center because of the lack of signage and were only saved by my then-phone’s GPS. Maybe they seriously want it to be tranquil.

An Idea: Make Oak Grove commuter rail an actual station. Put it in Zone 1, make it pickup-only outbound/dropoff-only inbound. Maybe set up a flat fare for ridership heading between Wyoming Hill and Reading. This would provide a good alternative for often spotty 136/137 service and if priced at even $2.50 one-way would be with transfer a bit cheaper than the status quo.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Yes, there are much more accessible Hunt’s at Kenmore Square and Harvard Square. But this one is bigger than both of those combined so for the serious photographer, this is here. Seriously, this is all I’ve got since otherwise people go here to go home.

Back Bay

Growing up and visiting Boston once or twice a year, I’d almost always drive into town via the MassPike and we’d pass by the assorted sites of Boston. Under and around BU, right by Fenway, under the Pru, then right past Back Bay[/South End] with its mixture of commuter rail tracks with the Orange Line wedged between. Passing Back Bay meant that I had made it to Boston and at this point the last challenge myself and whomever I was traveling with had was finding parking or a place to get off our tour bus. Heading home, it was one last taste of seeing MBTA action, B at BU West or a Framingham/Worcester Line train after a successful trip.

That said, lately I’ve ended up at Back Bay quite a bit for engagements in the area, being a quick commuter rail ride from South Station is part of why, so now is the time to review one of the more key T stations out there. The current incarnation of Back Bay is the northernmost/easternmost station on the Southwest Corridor alignment carrying the Orange Line alongside Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and serves as a major transfer point of sorts connecting the Orange Line to the Framingham/Worcester, Providence/Stoughton, Franklin/Forge Park, and Needham commuter rail lines, Amtrak’s Northeast Regional, Acela Express, and Lake Shore Limited lines, plus the 10 and 39 buses as well as connections between each other. Also, the Orange Line makes this the simplest connection between the Northeast Corridor lines and the Downeaster at North Station. In theory, Back Bay should be an important station but in actuality it’s quite a bit worse for the wear.

Walk into Back Bay and save for LED signs and vending machines you’ll feel like you were transported back into the 80s given the decor. Though there has been some upkeep, there are parts that look like they’ve barely seen changes in the 26 years since the current incarnation’s opening. Entering the station, it forks into three different forks, which going from south to north are as follows.

1: Tracks 1-3 have two high level platforms and serve Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor trains and southbound commuter rail service. These platforms are visible from the MassPike and are partially exposed to the outdoors with the ends closest to the station enclosed. Your biggest risk here is running into hoards of commuters especially as the exits are at the far south/west end of the platform.

2: The two tracks of the Orange Line which are located one story underneath the main concourse in a shallow tunnel. Typical Southwest Corridor setup, not much to see here, exit at the north/east end of the platform.

3: Tracks 5 and 7 which carry the Framingham/Worcester Line and the Lake Shore Limited. Unlike the two others, these tracks have mostly low-level platforms with a mini-high at the way end at which point the platform extends into a tunnel and has a very odd feeling. In fact, it may be the most unusual if not creepy part of the MBTA/MBCR system and I’ll let regular reader and fan @BostonUrbEx explain.

“[The westbound platform is]  the strangest place on the T that I’ve ever been, I think. Not only that but some homeless man chased me away when I was looking westward into the dark tunnel, and I had a little flashlight on me in my bag so I was using that, then he came out from behind some concrete walls and just stood there grumbling, I was freaked out and tried to casually make my way off and then he followed me, stopping every time I looked back.” 

All Aboard for Framingham, Worcester, Springfield...Albany-Rensselaer...Chicago!

All Aboard for Framingham, Worcester, Springfield…Albany-Rensselaer…Chicago!

Toss all of this in with a ton of diesel smoke, enough for some to call Back Bay a “lung cancer chamber” and for public health officials to ask those with lung conditions to avoid it, and you have Boston’s third major rail station. The smoke is at its worst on the westbound platform as it’s mainly enclosed and the mini-high is at the way end. I’d hate to see someone needing to use it with lung or pulmonary problems to have to go through torture just to ride a train.

The concourse itself can use some improvement as it has a couple small stores and and two Dunkin’ Donuts and not much else outside its ticket windows. Its two exits show a good contrast of how life is on the other side of the tracks/Pike, exit onto Dartmouth Street and you have the heart of the Back Bay plus the 10 to City Point in South Boston.  Exit onto Columbus Ave and you have the up and coming South End, the terminus of the 39, and the two rush hour round trips on the 170 to Dudley and Waltham. There’s more to do on the Dartmouth Street side but the Columbus Ave side has phantom exits, track views, and a sign salvaged from the prior Back Bay. There also is a convoluted tunnel which connects Back Bay to the Prudential Center (and Prudential station) which comes in handy when rain or navigating pedestrian-hostile intersections are in the way. Choose your adventure.

Station: Back Bay[/South End]
Rating (1-10): 4 (5 for the outside architecture and Orange Line, 4 for the NEC platforms, 0 for the westbound platform)

Ridership: A good mix of commuters and residents with the former heading more onto Dartmouth Street and the latter more onto Columbus Ave. The collection of nearby offices makes this a key stop on the Commuter Rail and often at rush hour the platforms are packed. Amtrak gets a decent amount of ridership and being in the neighborhood one day when the Lake Shore Limited comes in I saw 30 people board for points west.

Pros: It’s the main rail connection to the South End and is a very good bypass for when the mainline of the Green Line is snarled. The outdoor architecture is a bit akin to a urban version of Alewife. It also is a good connection to suburban and inter-city transport.

Cons: This station should come with a Surgeon’s General warning and westbound passengers should be given respirators if not oxygen masks. Besides that, improve some of the lighting on the Orange Line/southbound platforms and a LOT of lighting on the westbound platform and put in a better ventilation system and that rating would go fast. As with the rest of the Southwest Corridor, Back Bay answers a question that wasn’t asked a clearly as the answer warranted.

Wollaston

One day off not too long ago, I had a weird hankering to ride the Braintree Branch. The long, long, LONG nonstop stretch between JFK and North Quincy has always been so out of place to the point of being captivating especially given that it passes by Savin Hill and that an infill station somewhere halfway between would do wonders. Also oddly captivating is the state of Wollaston being the last wheelchair-inaccessible station on the Red Line so I found it worthy of a visit.

Like the rest of the Braintree Branch, Wollaston is a good example of 1970s brutalism which comes off a prototype of a lot of the transit construction after it ranging from the Haymarket North extension of the Orange Line, WMATA, MARTA, and the matching Metros in Baltimore and Miami. Its inaccessibility comes in part due to a design flaw in which access to the very shallow and often flood-prone station lobby is via stairs and that finding an easy ADA-compliant solution may not be that easy. From the lobby you have two options on where to go.

Turn left and end up on Hancock Street/MA 3A where the neighborhoods of Wollaston and Norfolk Downs have some small shops, residences, the campus of Eastern Nazarene University, and a little ways away Wollaston Beach. Turn right and you end up at the traffic mess known as Newport Avenue. On the day I went, I chose the latter because I was hungry and since the beloved Clam Box on the beach wasn’t open, my choices for food were the Wendy’s on Newport or the hot food section of the Hannaford on Hancock. I chose the former on the basis of Coke Freestyle alone to be greeted with a machine which had 80% of its flavors including all diet soda out. The trip was more vindicated when someone’s abandoned pass was found on the sidewalk which I found to be the only solace of this trip and if you lost a pass there around January 11th, I’ll gladly pay your $18 back.

I should go back on a Summer weekend day as the atmosphere would be a lot different than on warm yet overcast January day. Next time I am exploring in the other direction though.

Station: Wollaston
Rating (1-10): 6

Ridership: Heavily concentrated of those living or working in the immediate area around the station including those affiliated with Eastern Nazarene and with some beachgoers in the Summer months. This may be the least spectacular of Quincy’s quartet of stations without offices, a bus hub and a nice downtown, or a huge park-and-ride, but it serves a purpose quite well.

Pros: Elevated stations are always fun especially considering it’s the only one on the Braintree Branch and the area around the station isn’t all that bad.

Cons: Flooding, wheelchair inaccessibility, lack of pedestrian access over the tracks. Given this was designed and largely constructed in the 1960s, I wonder what people were on in designing Wollaston.

Nearby and Noteworthy: From the date of this review, only 20 days until The Clam Box opens on Wollaston Beach and this year they’re opening an ice cream shop next-door. Also, for those wanting coffee that isn’t orange and purple or involves a green mermaid, Quincy’s Coffee Break Cafe has one of their three locations right outside the station with such oddball flavors as German Chocolate Cake and Whoopie Pie.

Across the tracks from said Hannaford on the Newport Ave side is Stop & Shop’s flagship location which is quite large, has beer and wine, and is often a testing ground for new concepts and ideas in the chain.

Ruggles & Northeastern (a twofer!)

Picture it: Several months ago. Your webmaster is in a tug of war with Northeastern because, well, they lost his transcripts needed for enrollment in a grad program and my last option was to hand-deliver the transcripts. At this time, I was seriously in a commuting rut which I actually wrote about so I had decided to kill two birds with one stone by knocking off two stations in one trip. Two blocks separates Ruggles from Northeastern and the former can be seen in the distance from the latter. However, the two seem like totally different beasts.

A creation of the Southwest Corridor, Ruggles is a station that ties the Orange Line, Commuter Rail (Providence/Stoughton, Franklin and Needham lines), and many local buses together bringing passengers from points south and west. This was apparent during rush hour as I saw a mass of people get off of a Forest Hills-bound train, most bound for buses or the commuter rail even with a redundant transfer two stops north at Back Bay. The three parts of the station, are tied into a long concourse which runs as a pedestrian continuation of Forsyth Street towards Tremont Street that also includes a Dunkin’ Donuts and a good-sized mini-mart plus has hot dog and Jamaican beef patty carts during lunch hours. In terms of overall footprint, Ruggles is probably the largest station in the MBTA system which doesn’t have some sort of parking element and it may dwarf some stations with some parking (Oak Grove comes to mind as one).

In contrast, Northeastern is the final surface station before the E line enters the Huntington Ave Subway and is for the most part a run-of-the-mill surface station in a street median. Ten minutes after I got off at Ruggles, the platform was nearly vacant though it started to fill up no doubt due to delays on the E that day. By the time a train came, the train was packed and mercifully platform fare collection was in effect that day since adding us to that train was barely done with six doors of 2 cars open let alone just two. Since this original trip, I’ve gone back a couple of times for other matters, namely one that would’ve made me simultaneously a Northeastern employee as well as being a student. I can say that when class isn’t in session it’s a lot less frenetic and is at times a bit pleasant especially considering the massive size of Ruggles.

Which one is best? It’s up to you and I’ll let you decide. Leave your take in the comments!

Stations: Ruggles (Orange Line) & Northeastern (Green Line – E)
Rating (1-10): 7, this as a combined unit.  

Ridership
Ruggles: Lots of passengers transferring for buses and commuter rail, the latter more often than not Northeastern stakeholders. Given how the E line often can be, Ruggles often can get overrun with Northeastern students wanting a saner ride into town but this primarily is a bus-to-rail transfer point for the South End, Roxbury, and to some degree Jamaica Plain.
Northeastern: Students. Lots of students. Though not as bad as the BU trio on the B Line, when school in session the platform often can be packed, sometimes it can get a bit crazy even Ruggles, Symphony, and Mass Ave all alternatives.

Pros
Ruggles: It gives an alternative to an often-beleaguered trolley line and gives both Northeastern and the South End the transit hub it deserves. Bus traffic here is bound for all corners of Boston.
Northeastern: The University and Huntington Ave were all there first and for an out-of-towner looking solely at a map they’ll gravitate here first and on occasion the stub track just south of Forsyth Street is home to work equipment which can be a treat.

Cons
Ruggles: There is some dinginess around the station but this is often to be expected with newer stations which haven’t seen rehabilitation. There also is the fact that if this was New York or Washington, this would have had a tag for Northeastern years ago.

Northeastern: Where trains stop heading inbound is far from the actual entry point. Often there is a mad dash for a train if one is approaching, often without the best results. Also, being on the E, being on the first train after some delay or disruption is not a pleasant experience for sure.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Ruggles sits on the site of what was the South End Grounds, a trio of ballparks which were the homes of the old Boston Braves. The Northeastern-owned property right on the west side of Huntington Ave, in contrast, was the site of the Huntington Ave Grounds, original home of the Red Sox. Both have markers of their status around the area.