I had occasion to use the new Assembly T station for the first time yesterday. Passing through a subway station for the first time after it has been built or renovated is always an interesting experience. I always find myself wondering how long it will be before it starts to look dingy.
The new station is constructed of mainly concrete and stainless steel, which I guess is easier to maintain than the ceramic tile used elsewhere in the system. Its industrial appearance blends in fairly well with the general character of the area and the other new buildings adjacent to it. (Remembering that the site was originally a Ford automobile plant makes this association more valid.)
When I came out of the station, I was struck by the emptiness around it. The entrance, like that of Wellington, is at the northern end of the Orange Line platform, but the point where riders emerge is still a couple hundred yards south of the buildings that make up the Assembly Row complex (the most likely destination for riders getting off at this stop), and the distance to the row of older stores is about twice as far, across swaths of parking lots and newly built roadways. Neither of those is going to be a fun walk come January. Someday, the rest of this area is going to be filled in with other buildings, like what is gradually happening in the Seaport district downtown, but it's going to be a while before that happens.
Also, as I predicted, there is no sign that the T intends to have its bus routes serve the station directly; as of yesterday, the bus stop is all the way across those parking lots and roadways, in front of the Bed Bath & Beyond store. Now, with the way the bus routes are currently set up, maybe subway riders don't need to connect to those buses, and vice versa. But it still speaks to the T's long-standing habit of negating progress with shortsightedness.
Of course, other things about the T don't change either. Right outside the entrance to the station there were two people puffing away on cigarettes.