29 August 2014

Nearly Assembled

Back in May I wrote about the MBTA's new Orange Line station adjacent to the Assembly Square Marketplace and new Assembly Row development. (Any similarity to the name of this blog is entirely coincidental.) About a month ago trains started using the new track alignment, with southbound trains passing the west side of the new station's platform, and the T was estimating a "fall" time frame for opening the station.

Earlier this week boston dot com was reporting that the station would open next Wednesday, September 3rd, but this morning I got a T-Alert email from the T saying it will open on Tuesday. To my mind it might possibly have been a better strategy to "soft open" the station during the long weekend, but I don't work for the T (and perhaps they'll do that anyway).

I can say definitively that the new station will make it much easier for those shoppers and store employees who don't drive to get to and from the complex. For many years there have been two bus routes serving it, the 90 and 92; neither runs especially frequently, and the 92 only goes there between roughly 9 am and 4 pm (the rest of the time, it terminates at Sullivan station, roughly 3/4 of a mile away).

I went over there one day a few weeks ago to check out a couple of stores, and I was fortunate to make the connection from the bus I take from my house into Wellington station to the 90 bus that goes from there through Assembly Row with about a minute to spare. If the first bus had been running late, or had to stop for another traffic light, there's a good chance I might have missed the 90, and would have had to wait 40 minutes for the next one.

Will the addition of another station to the Orange Line affect commuting time? Probably not by more than a minute or two at most. Trains have been running at reduced speeds through the area for at least a year while construction proceeded, so running at normal speed and stopping at the station will likely end up taking the same amount of time, plus I don't think there will be many people waiting to get on there in the mornings, at least not initially. (Eventually there is supposed to be 2100 units of housing added to the complex; I believe there are apartments for rent now, but I have no idea how many.)

I want to believe that the 90 and 92 routes will be adjusted so that they connect at the new station on their way through the Assembly Row property, but this is the MBTA we're talking about, so no assumptions can be made. (I'm not even sure why the 90 would need to continue going to Wellington, since it makes no additional stops between there and Assembly Row, but you can still buy a buses-only T pass, so it may be that this piece of the route exists for the benefit of those riders who only use the system's buses.)

But Assembly station itself is ready to open, and possibly ahead of schedule, so let's be fair and give credit for that.

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