Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Springfield (Amtrak)

Well gosh, that's a simple title, isn't it? It doesn't really give away the multimodal nature of Springfield Station: multiple Amtrak lines, freight traffic, a possible commuter rail system, intercity bus lines, and the hub of the entire PVTA. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me!

The PVTA busway, with the then-empty intercity busway to the right.
The PVTA busway is where I spent the most time here, and it does well. Finding which bus route you're getting isn't too difficult thanks to the big departure board as you exit the station. There are a few different "islands" - two of them have small shelters, while the central one is a long shelter spanning the whole thing. The central one, incidentally, is where the busiest routes board.

The intercity bus terminal!
It's important to note that when I did my return trip to the PVTA, intercity buses had fully migrated from the disgusting Springfield Bus Terminal to Union Station. It was a really welcome change, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also because it makes for a much more centralized hub. The actual boarding area doesn't have many amenities, since there's a proper waiting area inside, but most people don't seem to actually use it.

Inside the parking garage.
The Union Station Garage was practically brand-new when I visited it (as was the rest of the Union Station bus area). It's not actually run by Union Station, but rather by the Springfield Parking Authority. Luckily, I'm pretty sure overnight parking is possible, since there's nothing on their website saying it's not.

The station...from above.
Downtown Springfield.
Of course I had to take the elevator to the top of the 377-space lot to see what the view was like. The elevator was very clean, and the view was awesome, particularly the one of the station itself. There was also a big scary bug in the elevator room on the roof...

The PVTA waiting room.
Ah, I spent a lot of time in these relaxing waiting rooms. There are separate ones for PVTA and intercity buses, and they're both spacious and modern. They both have plenty of seats, wastebaskets, recycling bins, and charging outlets. I personally preferred waiting at the intercity waiting room, since it was almost always empty, but the PVTA room doesn't get too crowded either.

A few more amenities in the PVTA section.
The PVTA part of the room also has some ticket machines that have yet to work (I think they're part of the upcoming "Fast Break" smartcard program - no idea why they couldn't have just used CharlieCards), a departure board, a ticket window, and paper schedules.

Squeaky clean!
Heading toward the main concourse, there's a hallway featuring a water fountain and bathrooms. The bathrooms are great - they're spacious, clean, and modern, just like the rest of the station. The one qualm I have with them is their weird tiny hand dryers...they're powerful, but it's strange how small and close to the wall they are.

The main concourse.
The main concourse of this station is beautiful. It's huge, with lots of seating (who knows what people would be waiting for) and tables, more charging outlets, and a big destination sign that...doesn't work. It didn't even work when I came back here! When are they gonna activate it?

My stomping grounds!
There's a convenience store in the concourse that I have fond memories of buying pretzels from every time I went to Springfield. Thanks, Commuters Variety! The concourse has lots of other amenities, though, including a Dunkin' Donuts and a Subway (which weren't open in the summer, but have since moved in), lots of historical information, and ticket offices for intercity buses.

The strange hallway leading out.
From the concourse, there's kind of a weird hallway that leads toward the Amtrak station. It has more historical information along the walls, but in the middle, there are just these weird...I don't even know, they're just things. Maybe they've opened up since the summer (I didn't have time to check out this part of the station when I came back), but they definitely were strange at the time. There's also a historical barber's chair at the end, which is...kinda cool, I guess.

The Lyman Street entrance.
The hallway eventually leads towards Lyman Street, which has its own mezzanine area. There isn't much here - it's basically just a staircase and an elevator up to the Amtrak station, and an exit out to Lyman Street. This is also the final part of the station that actually looks...good.

OH NO!!!!!!!!
Yeah...whereas the other part of the terminal is completely new, this section of the station is much older, dating all the way back to...1994? Okay, come on, this is the same era as Beachmont - this is really what they came up with? The ugly waiting room features absolutely grotesque-looking seats clustered in small groups.

You call that a departure board?!
Other amenities in here include both a human ticket office and a Quik-Trak ticket kiosk. There's also a really sorry excuse for a departure board - it's just a bunch of letters and numbers pasted onto a board. Not only is it ugly, but it's hard to read and understand! Finally, I checked out the bathroom, and it's disgusting.

The platforms...from above.
The station itself is in the process of getting renovated, which is good, because at the moment it's just horrible. The platforms are low-level, there are incredible barebones amenities on each one, and everything's falling apart. Also, this isn't the station's fault, but it's a real pain that Vermonter trains have to reverse into here from the north - it slows down the trip quite a lot.

What luck that there was a Shuttle train in the station to take a picture of!
Station: Springfield

Ridership: Ridership experienced a significant drop in 2016, going from 123,200 riders in 2015 to 92,354 riders - about 253 people per day. The PVTA side of the station is busy, and though I can't give exact numbers, I'll say that there are lots of people that board local buses here. Finally, while there aren't numbers for intercity buses either, they're the only feasible way of getting from here to Boston (the Amtrak Lake Shore Limited is only once a day), so traffic is high.

Pros: The modern part of the station is great on all fronts. The bus terminal is simple and flows well, the waiting rooms are clean and pleasant, and the main concourse is just beautiful. I love how all of these modes have finally come together into one building, making for much easier transfers.

Cons: The Amtrak section is just horrible - it's cramped, musty, and ugly. That "destination board" just grinds my gears!

Nearby and Noteworthy: Beautiful downtown Springfield is right at your fingertips from here! Not that that's a particularly nice place to be...

Final Verdict: 8/10
The entirety of Springfield Station is great, aside from the one little scab of the Amtrak section. However, that section of the station is undergoing renovations, and once they're complete, this station could definitely get a 9...maybe even a 10, depending on how extensive the renovations are. I spent a lot of time here, particularly in the PVTA section, and I gotta say...I came to love it.

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates

4 comments:

  1. any chance you could review Pittsfield ,because it's the only other ma Amtrak station besides south station you haven't reviewed

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    Replies
    1. I mean, if I could figure out a way to get out there, then I would love to review it and finish off the Massachusetts Amtrak stations. Plus, the BRTA looks cool!

      Delete
    2. well I guess you could take the lake shore limted

      Delete
  2. FYI, Amtrak is going to relocate its facilities (ticketing, waiting area, customer service, etc) downstairs to the main hall when the commuter rail operated by CTrail starts in the spring/summer. By then, all the electronic departure boards should be up and running as well.

    ReplyDelete

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