Framingham Blog Posts
Framingham MBTA Station Tips
Recently I wrote a blog posting with an update on the parking situation at the Framingham MBTA station. I want to follow up with some tips about the station based on my year and a half experience taking the commuter rail every day.
The cheapest monthly parking is at the Framingham parking garage on Pearl Street. Some business offer cheaper prices by renting out their space. The garage is the best option for the winter months because you don't need to dig out your car after a long day. (I have also seen some cars get flooded out because they park in the parking lot behind the Park Street Baptist Church.)
If you park at the MBTA parking lot, or the Framingham garage, your best bet is to take the cross over bridge if you take any of the evening rush hour trains to Framingham. This is because the walk is overall shorter and in the winter time the entire walkway is completely cleared. The Waverly street walkway is not 100% clear by the Old Station Steakhouse and can be icy.
The train is about 95% on time, so do what you can to get their early! The bells at the train station go off about 30 seconds before the train arrives. Most people that are in the Framingham MBTA parking lot will make the train. I have seen people drive in and park and sprint to the train and make it within plenty of time.
During the morning rush hour, there's usually 3 areas to board the train.The best place to board is towards the head of the train, which in the morning is just under the crossover bridge. The first cars are the closest to the entrance for Back Bay and South Station.
The quiet car is the last car on the train, and at the Framingham stop that's the handicap boarding. However, I have found that regardless of where you sit on the train most people are quiet. Every once in a while you end up near someone who just bump into someone for the first time in so long and you get the pleasure of hearing all about their business. (I once had the pleasure of hearing someone on a conference call for most of the duration to Boston.)
There is wireless access on the commuter rail, it was the first rail to offer such service, however its not always reliable as the wireless service is really bad in parts of Wellsley and Natick. This is true for cell phone services. I have found once I made it past route 128 in Newton, the cellular and Internet service is fairly reliable.
During really bad weather, the Natick Station can flood up and this will cause delays on the rail. There's nothing you can do, other than bring a good book to read or plan to take a later train and hope that the flood dries up.
There's always some taxis waiting at the Framingham train station. Almost every evening rush hour train I have seen several taxis waiting.
There is a shuttle SUV from Philips that drops off and picks up passengers. I don't know much about their service, but their they are the only company that provides this service. This is worth looking into if your considering applying for a job at Philips.
At the Back Bay station, the Framingham train always leaves from track five or seven. Since April, it has been track seven due to construction at the Yawkey Station. If you are coming from the Copley Square area you don't need to go through the station, you can enter through the stairs across the street from the station.
J & M Diner Inc
Last week we decided to try out J & M Diner Inc in Framingham. We are always on the lookout for a good breakfast place, and the reviews for J & M Diner have been really good, so we decided to give it a try.
The restaurant size is small with a mix of tables and counter seats. I can only imagine that it's a very busy place on the weekends. We ate on a weekday and there were only a few tables that were open and it appear that there were a lot of regular customers, which is always a good sign.
We received a cheerful welcome at the door and were promptly seated. The menu had lots of options and we were at a lost as to what to try, everything on the menu looked good. There's a large whiteboard in the back listing all the Today's Specials.
I decided to go for the Wicked Sinful French Toast, it seemed to be unique and something different to try. The menu described it as, 'Fresh baked cinnamon danish. Cut in half, batter dipped french toast style. Grilled in butter, cinnamon & drizzled with a sweet icing.' I asked for bananas for a topping.
With the help from the server, we also got a single caramel panacake with Banana with a side of home fries. This was listed as one of the specials, they also had one with apples but that one sold out.
We didn't wait too long for our food, and they were very attentative to when our coffee was low. When the food did arrive, I was worried that the table wouldn't be big enough for all the food that we had. The pancake was huge with lots of bananas and there was so much home fries that we couldn't eat it all.
The food was delicious and we weren't able to eat all our food because we were stuff. The Wicked Sinful French Toast was very sweet and there was just enough on the plate that it didn't seem like it was too much.
We'll certainly go back to J & M Diner the next time we decide to eat out for breakfast. This is our new favorite breakfast in Framingham! If your looking for a great place to eat breakfast before a fun day at shopping in Framingham/Natick, check out J& M Diner!
Note: They only accept cash, there is an ATM in the plaza.
Framingham MBTA Parking
A quick update to the availability of parking at the Framingham MBTA parking lot. Six months after the MBTA raised the commuter rail rates, are commuters avoiding taking the commuter rail?
Answer: No. It appears that more and more commuters are going back to using the commuter rail as their preferred method to get to Boston. This isn't just true at the Framingham stop. By the time the train leaves the Natick stop, some of the commuters are standing for the duration of their trip. (Note: There are seats available, but some people usually don't want to sit in the middle seat.)
As for parking spaces, I have made the follow observation during my morning commute, while taking the 8:15 train; in December, I noticed that there were about 15 empty parking spaces. Today I noticed that there were only 5 empty parking spaces. Note: The 8:15 train is usually the last busy morning commuter train as it gets to Back Bay by 9am.
If your considering parking at the Framingham MBTA station, your best bet would be to get their early. Usually your best best is to forget about the Waverly parking and check the parking near Franklin Street. If the MBTA parking lot is full, you should look into the town parking garage on Pearl Avenue. The parking garage is about 4 blocks away and cost $4 to park all day.
The MBTA could add an additional 5 parking spaces by allowing customers to park in front of a fence that never opens and removing the handicap parking spaces. There's already enough handicap spaces by the spaces near Waverly Street where handicap users would most likely park.
Parking in Framingham
If your wondering about parking availability at the Framingham MBTA station, you'll be happy to know this summer that there appears to be plenty of parking.
When I catch the 8:14 express train to Boston, I see about 10-15 available parking spot in the MBTA lot. Obviously the earlier train has more parking availability. but, its nice to know that there is parking after 8am. The Natick parking lots fill up pretty quickly.
Another alternative is parking on Pearl Street garage. Its about $1 cheaper and there's always plenty of parking spots. You should keep in mind that the garage is about a quarter mile from the train station, so don't get their a few minutes that the train is due to come in.
MBTA AdviceHere are some practical tips on using the Commuter Rail to/From Framingham via Back Bay station.With the upcoming increase in MBTA fares, this might be timely:
Starting July 1st, Framingham commuters will be paying $3.50 more round trip or $42 more a month to travel to/from Boston. It will now cost $16 to travel to/from Boston. If you purchase a monthly commuter pass, each trip will cost $12.60 in a 31 day month. (Assuming 20 business days.) This means it doesn't make sense to get a monthly pass if you only plan to travel to Boston less than 15 times. So if you are making some future vacation plans and can work from home, you may be better off to check to see if it makes sense to have a monthly pass that month.
|Month||Number of Business Days||Cost Per Day|
Get your MBTA monthly pass at work. Talk to your HR department about getting your passes via pre-tax and save a lot of money. You'll get the pass well in advance of the start of the month and will save a lot of money. Make sure to consult your tax consultant about this if you expense commuter passes on your tax forms.
Everything is more expensive at the Back Bay Station. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but everything is expensive at the MBTA station. For example, coffee is 10% cheaper at the Stuart Street Dunkin Donuts than it is at the Dunkin Donuts a the Back Bay train station. The only good thing about the shops at the station is that they are open early/later than most shops in the area.
If you pay $4 a day to park at the MBTA parking lot, look for alternative in the Framingham area. There's plenty of businesses that are willing to lease a space for you. Don't just rely on the signs, look around and see what business might be open to having you park in their lot for the day. It doesn't hurt to ask, if you don't ask, the answer will always be no.
Consider taking a the train in a different Zone. If you know someone who lives near a train station in Natick, Wellesley or Newton you may be able to park in their driveway and save money by taking a different zone. Note: Depending on which train you take, you may end up standing for the duration of you trip.
Yesterday, we watched the 2012 Boston Marathon in front of the La Cantina restaurant in Framingham MA. Heres some tips on watching the marathon from Framingham:
- Arrive early! It takes about a 1/2 hour for the runners to get to the corner of Winter Street and 135. Don't wait until the last minute to arrive!
- If you arrive before 8:30, you'll find plenty of parking at the Joseph P. Keefe Technical High School. After 9, you'll probably be parking on Fountain Street.
- Bring a beach chair or blanket to sit on.
- Bring plenty of drinks and snacks!
- You can find plenty of viewing spots if you continue to walk east on 135.
- Before the lead runners arrive, you'll see several police motorcycles and then the media car.
- Anytime you see a media car, you'll be sure that it's a lead runner.
- Take lots of pictures and video and cheer on the runners!
The schedule below lists the various divisions and arrival times for the 2012 Boston Marathon to mile marker 5:
9:30 a.m. - Mobility Impaired Arrive
9:47 a.m. - Push-rim Wheelchair Division Arrive
9:52 a.m. - Handcycle Participants Arrive
10:02 a.m. - Elite Women's Arrive
10:30 a.m. - Elite Men's and Wave One Arrive
10:40 a.m. - Wave Two Arrive
11:20 a.m. - Wave Three Arrive
Runners will pass through Framingham headed east from the Ashland town line to the Natick town line on Rt. 135, (Waverly Street in Framingham).
Framingham Commuter Rail
Recently the MBTA Commuter Rail changed the Framingham/Worcester schedule to make room for changes being done at the Yawkey Way Station. As of April 2nd, many of the trains now arrive at their stations a bit earlier. For example, my regular 8:19 am Framingham train now arrives at 8:14 am.
My morning schedule isn't that flexible enough to arrive at the train station that much earlier and I have about a 50/50 chance of catching the train.
Today I found out that the MBTA is strictly enforcing that schedule. This morning, when I went to catch the morning train, the train literally left as I arrived at the train station. I wasn't just me; there were several of us that missed the train. I was about 10 steps away from the door as the train was moving and the conductor blew a horn and moved the train. The door was closed and there was no possible way to get on.
Granted I know that the Commuter Rail has to keep a schedule, but I can't believe that they turn away at least 8 passengers like that. There should be a rule that if there are 5 or more passengers at the loading platform, the train isn't allowed to leave.
By implementing this rule, it seems to be a simple solution to build better relations with many of the commuters that travel the Commuter Rail.
As a side note, one of the passengers told me that they wouldn't wait for the next train and would seek an alternative way to go to Boston.
I easily managed to catch the next train which arrived about 25 minutes later. Not a fun way to start the day.
We are in the process of cleaning the basement of our house. It hasn't had a good cleaning since we moved into the house, and after a couple of flooding incidents, its time to do some house cleaning.
To help better organized some of my clutter, I just signed up for Shoeboxed. Which according to them, is the easiest and fastest way to organize Receipts, Business Cards & Bills online. I am hoping that I can get rid of several bins/boxes that have a lot of paper in it. There's no need to have the original copies any more. I'll let you know how that process goes.
I'll continue to investigate other Web 2.0 services that might be able to help out with the decluttering the basement. Lifehack has all sorts of great creative ideas on removing clutter and such.
A year ago I saw a post in the Post Office saying, "everyone has at least $2000 of stuff lying around the house." I don't know if that's true, but we'll soon find out!
Pearl Street Garage
The town is offering commuters a deal this winter: Park at the Pearl Street Garage for $50 a month.
The special rate is available for December, January and February. It is normally $80 per month to park at the town's garage, or $65 for Framingham residents.
The garage is across from the old RMV, a short walk from the downtown train station.
Commuters can see the lot attendant for more details and a discount pass.
Natick Collection Santa
Santa Clauses has returned to the Natick Collections again this year. You can find Santa in the "expensive" part of the mall near the Coach store and Neiman Marcus. First off they do have a good Santa, no pulling on the beard to see if its real!
We went to see Santa on the first day he arrived at the mall, November 17, 2011, and were disappointed how unorganized that Santa helpers were. They were having all sorts of problems with the camera and some of the digital equipment and had to retake some customers photos because they were missing in the computer. We also had to wait longer because of the technical issues.
We were disappointed with the photo that we got and found that the photo that we took with our own point and shoot digital camera came out better than their digital SLR camera.
If you plan on seeing Santa at the Natick Mall, just be patience while you wait and be sure to bring an extra camera along with you.
We found that the photo prices are a little expensive for the quality of photos, but I guess that the cost of having a good Santa.