Friday, May 27, 2016

South Acton

I'll admit, I'm usually against newer Commuter Rail stations. Indeed, South Acton is very new, having finished renovations about six months ago. And yet, it's a surprisingly nice station - certainly better than the horrible old one. Let's see it!

Oh no! Closed parking!
South Acton has a rather unassuming entrance along Main Street. There are no T symbols or anything, and a sign casually announces a "dead end". Yet if you proceed to the end...there you go! South Acton Station! There's a small relief parking lot here, but the main one is accessed from Central Street - 287 spaces.

That is a foreboding footbridge...
As this is a new station, the platform is fully high-level. Most of it is bare, but there are a few benches here and there, as well as robotic announcements that get broadcast from time to time. They sound awful.

Under the fancy footbridge.
There's a lot more "stuff" in the sheltered area under the station's footbridge. Although the ceiling is corrugated (classic modern Commuter Rail), there are more benches here, as well as wastebaskets. The station still had a lot of traffic cones and construction equipment when I was here, but it wasn't too big of a deal.

Yes, South Acton does have stairs you can use to get up to the footbridge between platforms, but why would you want to use those? This place has an elevator! It's super fancy and glass, and it doesn't smell awful like many MBTA elevators, because...well, the station basically in the middle of nowhere. But still...elevators!

Train pictures are hard at night, okay?
Station: South Acton

Ridership: This is actually the busiest station on the whole Fitchburg Line! 902 inbound riders per weekday may not seem like much, but it's a full 15% of the line's overall ridership. I honestly have no idea why South Acton gets so many people, but I guess I can't complain!

Pros: They did a really good job renovating this station, with a fully high-level platform, a good amount of shelter, lots of seating, and that amazing footbridge with elevators! Modern Commuter Rail stations don't usually have a lot of character, but South Acton feels quite peaceful.

Cons: Some proper signage would be nice at the station's entrance, but I think all the locals know where this place is, so it's not much of a problem. However, and I can't believe I'm saying this, South Acton doesn't have enough parking! Okay, there's no way for me to prove that it needs more parking, but just look at the numbers: 287 spaces in a station with bad pedestrian access that gets over 900 riders per day? Yeah, I think it needs more parking. I can imagine that lot getting filled up on weekdays.

Nearby and Noteworthy: There's a small "downtown" near the station, but it really doesn't have anything worth noting. However, if you walk further up Main Street, you eventually reach The Discovery Museums! The idea of a small science museum in a little town is wonderful, and this place seems quite charming.

Final Verdict: 8/10
I was very pleasantly surprised with South Acton. The renovation greatly improved it from its original state - it used to be a single-track station! Now the station has proper shelters and high-level platforms, both of which make it much better. Plus, it has those elevators!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates


  1. As someone who used to take the Fitchburg line regularly, one reason South Acton gets a lot of riders is because of the schedule. Many of the rush hour trains have abbreviated schedules where they skip the stops between South Acton and Porter, thus making the rush hour trip a lot quicker for commuters. I remember my mom preferring to catch these "fast trains." And you're right - parking does fill up quickly, I remember my mom always talking about having to fight for parking lol.

    Another point to remember is that many of the stops before S. Acton are either in towns that a) have much smaller populations, or b) are on MBTA bus routes. Then the ones after S. Acton are also either in small towns, or in the Fitchburg metro area where there might not necessarily be a lot of people who have to commute to Boston.

  2. There are actually 6 parking lots within walking distance of the station, for a total of 422 spaces. Plus satellite lots in West Acton and Kelly's Corner and 3 different shuttle vans. The station also has the largest number of bike racks and lockers then anywhere else in the system. It's all shown here at

    1. This comment is incredibly deceiving. The ARRT spaces are not for folks taking the train. Conversely, you have highlighted satellite lots that are for Acton residents only. The only public, non-resident, parking is actually in the main lot, where still the majority of spots are for Acton residents. Further, the shuttle buses are very limited in who they serve, which is shown by the small buses/ridership.

    2. I should say one of the lots you highlighted outside the main lot are public and I believe spots owned by the MBTA (vs the Town of Acton). They are also free! Problem is that there are only like 10 spots in that lot. There are also some spots (not many) over by Jones Field not shown on your map, but like the Maple Street lots that are part of your "four lots", these are assigned, not public (with a waiting list).

  3. I live in South Acton (the place, not the station) and I've been here two times to ride to the airport for family vacations. It's quite nice, with a drop-off lane on Maple Street and historical information. Because I was here on after rush hour/on the weekend, the trains arrived fairly infrequently. We had to wait a while, and I was not amused to find that there were no benches under the shelters (it was a sunny day).


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