Monday, April 17, 2017

Ayer (feat. the Circus Train!)

This station sucks. Being stuck here for 4 and a half hours sucks. Sure, there was a nice reward in the end, as the title's parenthetical remark suggests, but...this station still sucks.

Wow, that's a lot of railfans!
Alright, let's start with the outbound platform. Actually, I'm just about done talking about the outbound platform, since there's nothing on it. Okay, okay, practically no one is going outbound from here, but it's still just so barebones! How about at least a bench? The inbound side must've been closed at some point, because there also appears to be a temporary concrete platform in the middle of the tracks.

The inbound platform...can you find Jordan?
At least the inbound platform has some amenities, but they're still pretty lame. The modern green shelter is okay, with benches, a map, and a schedule underneath, as well as some wastebaskets and newspaper boxes nearby. Along the rest of the low-level, unaccessable platform, though, there are only a few benches and an ugly bus shelter.

Well, there's the bike rack!
Yeah, if you can't tell, this station is located in an industrial wasteland. It is such an unpleasant place to wait at, with no regard for safety at all - passengers can walk right into the abandoned mess of materials if they so wish. The station has no bike parking, and only thirty parking spaces for cars that double as municipal parking! Good luck finding a space!

A pair of CSX engines coming through.
Being stuck at Ayer for hours means you get a lot of train pictures...
And of course, I have to talk about the Circus Train, the whole reason me and a whole bunch of other people came up here in the first place! The train carries around "The Greatest Show on Earth," but the show is soon to end - the train is on its last legs. Pulling the diverse group of cars carrying passengers, vehicles, and animals were some beautiful FP9 locomotives from the 1950s!

Old meets new, kinda... 
The train has started to move!

There were four locomotives pulling the train.
A few of the many passenger cars.
That's a lotta vehicles!
The end of the long train.
Station: Ayer

Ridership: For the Fitchburg Line, Ayer's ridership is actually pretty good, with 435 inbound riders per weekday. The Fitchburg Line is one of the T's best examples of why stations should be located in downtowns - this station has barely any parking, but it still gets a good amount of people!

Pros: Well, I rather like that modern green shelter on the inbound side. Also, it's nice that the station is located right next to downtown Ayer, not that there's much there. Oh, and I have to admit, it's pretty cool that you can get from here alllllllll the way to Wachusett for only $2.75. What a steal!

Cons: Basically everything else. The station isn't accessible, first of all, and it's also a really unpleasant place to wait at. Everything to the south of it is industrial wasteland, there are no bike racks, and the rest of the amenities are abysmal!

Nearby and Noteworthy: Downtown Ayer is BORING. Trust me, I was here for four and a half hours!

Final Verdict: 3/10
I had my mind set on a 3 even before I was stuck here, so don't think that influenced the score. Yeah, the circus train was really cool, but why couldn't it have picked a more interesting station to run by? Oh well, at least we didn't have to wait at Hastings!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates


  1. You missed the "best Italian restaurant in Boston" (according to the Globe, IIRC). It's called Lucia's Tavola and the evening trains are timed pretty well for coming out to have dinner. Otherwise I totally agree it's a wasteland there.

  2. I commuted from this “station” for about a year, but I can say that I never got on from the inbound side. When you said it had a shelter I was shocked, because I spent many a cold and rainy morning standing there getting spat on by nature because there was no shelter. Some people would cross and sit in the shelter on the other side, then walk back over when the train came.

    And the parking situation is the literal worst. The parking lot is all the way across the street, up behind a bank and behind some condos. It is a lot that is shared with the Rail Trail, the long bike path that goes along the old tracks all the way to Nashua. The lot was almost always full, and with spots just for the rail trail, you would sometimes get ticketed for using those few that were left, even at times where no one would be cycling. And has no lighting at all. Walking back there by yourself at like 8pm was not super fun, not to mention having to clean the snow off your car in the pitch black.

    If you can’t tell, I have feelings about this station. It was my introduction to daily public transit commuting, and it didn’t make a good start. Although, I am much less likely to fall through some metal staircase that has rusted down into dust in Ayer than I would at the next station I used, Anderson.

  3. Another quirk of Ayer is that the MBTA boards rush hour inbound passengers on the outbound platform, but boards non-rush our inbound trains on the inbound platform.

    Naturally there are no signs telling people this.

  4. Gathering model trains is one side interest that can be in sought after when you make your brain up to seek after it, and for the measure of cash you pay out on it.scale model railway

  5. "Ouch" for your comment on the Ayer Station and vicinity. I have lived here for almost 40 years and must say although our train service is better than ever, although it once extended to Gardner, I agree that our train station is atrocious. The Bus shelter cubicle was augmented by a minimal modern structure, but it is still not a nice place to wait for a train. Ayer should have had a new station long ago, but disagreements over the design of an accompanying garage as well as the idea of having a combined Devens/Ayer station just west of the current station kept the project in limbo for many years. After a dispute with an abutting landowner and eminent domain procedures, we appear to be on track for a new station and garage. The first progress toward this goal was the demolition of a flat-roof concrete block structure that was built on the site of the elegant old station that was unceremoniously demolished in the 60s.

    The industrial wasteland that you describe to the south is not really so. There are many new industries and an intermodal rail yard as you go south from the station. You are right about the travel bargain between here and Wachusett. Where you can get about 20 miles of ride for a 1-zone fare.

  6. There has been federal money allocated (in 1997; 2 decades!!) to improve the parking situation. We are finally seeing some signs of progress after a property dispute was settled for the right of way.

    As for the "station" itself- it's an embarrassment! I have commuted on the line for 5 years into Boston, and yes, you stand out in the cold, wind and rain (snow, too) on a narrow, cracked macadam surface waiting. In rush hour, we load 50-60 passengers per train; this is NOT a whistle stop. This "station" needs MAJOR improvements & upgrades, and some provision for shelter. The next two tops (Littleton & S. Acton) received major upgrades. Ayer should be a priority item for MBTA improvements. Otherwise, best bet would be to lift off and nuke it from orbit.


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