Parking Madness: Toronto vs. Medford, Massachusetts


It’s Parking Madness season at Streetsblog, and if you’re just joining us, this year’s competition is all about how we sabotage transit by surrounding stations with huge fields of parking.

On Friday, we kicked things off with a match between transit station areas in St. Louis and Sacramento, with St. Louis advancing.

Today, first round action continues as Toronto takes on the Boston suburb of Medford.

Toronto — Kennedy Station

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 1.37.18 PM

Reader Ian Wood submitted the parking lots around Kennedy Station, which is the fifth busiest subway station in Toronto, according to Wikipedia.

The city has spent the last 25 years infilling parking lots like mad, and even its inner suburbs have seen wave after wave of densification.  (No city outside Asia has built more condos this century).

But Toronto is a young city, with a postwar rail system. While Toronto’s GO Transit is one of North America’s larger commuter rail stations, from the beginning it was designed as a car-to-train model, and most stations are surrounded by enormous parking lots, usually in the middle of highways and industrial areas.

This area is already surrounded by schools, housing, and job centres — and more is coming. But the subway station remains an odd crater in the middle of it.

Definitely the kind of space that would make Donald Shoup cry.

Medford, Massachusetts — Wellington T Station

Malden Parking Crater
An anonymous reader submitted this site outside Boston. Despite the picturesque setting by the Malden and Mystic rivers, the Wellington T station is hemmed in on all sides:

The station is sandwiched between a massive parking lot, a major highway and a train maintenance yard. There is also a parking garage just west of the station. I am not sure how anyone from the neighborhoods north get to this station on foot/bike.

The polls are open until Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Medford (60%, 198 Votes)
  • Toronto (40%, 131 Votes)

Total Voters: 329


Correction: This post originally said that Wellington T stop was in Malden, Mass. It’s in Medford. 

19 thoughts on Parking Madness: Toronto vs. Medford, Massachusetts

  1. You might as well say “Greater Boston.” In the States, the parking lot is worth more than the surrounding buildings and homes in the neighborhood. Also in the States, suburban towns and villages are too NIMBY even in 21st Century to build the kind of high rise development you can find all around the GTA.

  2. Minor correction to the Toronto description, which I’m sure was edited down from a longer version. GO Transit is indeed one of North America’s larger commuter rail networks, and many of its suburban stations are a mess of parking, but the Toronto Transit Commission (the agency that runs subways, buses and streetcars within the city) is no saint as evidenced by land use around Kennedy and a couple other stations located in the inner suburbs (once known as “Metro Toronto”, but now part of the city proper).

    Toronto has been slow to give up parking lots around transit nodes in these regions and Kennedy is a prime example of a surprising crater in an emerging super-dense near-alpha city.

  3. 1. That Greater Boston parking lot is in Medford, Mass, not Malden, Mass. 2. There’s a big TOD cluster just to the left of the lot in your photo 3. Is this really the most important thing to cover? I live just north of this station and walk to it nearly 365. No problemo. Some walk, some bike, some take the bus, some drive. We don’t hiss at each other for using different modes. I’m far more concerned that my condo will become part of a Wynn Casino prostitute cluster thanks to poor MassDOT Planning. Do you know who Secretary Pollack is in Boston? Today, she argued to cut transit for thousands of disabled riders. That seems to be a bigger Boston story than my stop.

  4. There’s actually two strong reasons for the Kennedy complex.

    First, much of the parking pictured sits underneath a vast hydro (electric) transmission corridor, all undevelopable land. Where each subway line crosses one of these corridors, you’ll find a suitably massive parking lot.

    Second, although there is high demand for dense development in that spot, the land was never zoned for it. This was a deliberate, if ill-advised, decision made when the subway opened to promote development at the end of the connecting light rail route, instead of at Kennedy.

  5. Malden looks like a mess, but Kennedy is a disaster, in part, because it was the natural spot for the attempt to create a downtown in Scarborough, and trying to bring better rapid transit to the badly chosen site for Scarborough Town Centre is causing absurd political division in Toronto. This blog post explains it.

  6. Some places are finding it profitable to bury hydro infrastructure to free up newly developable real estate.

  7. Used to live not too far from the Malden station. Getting to platform from nearby condos and apartments involves crossing 10-lane highway where it intersects another highway, backtracking and then taking a skybridge over a rail yard. Easy winner.

  8. Think of all the cars not having to drive the highway all the way downtown and then having to find parking there? Could giant parking lots be redone to accommodate big mixed-use condo developments as well as structured parking? Quite likely. Will doing so solve the issue with suburbanites having to either drive downtown or park and ride transit downtown? No, it will just create more tax base close to the station, possibly pulling it from somewhere else in the city. If infill development causes a significant delay or extra cost in getting a parking spot will some suburbanites avoid the place? Quite likely, after all, some suburbanites don’t enjoy life if it is too crowded or expensive.

    You know what would cost even less and produce the least amount of greenhouse gas too? Just give up commuting and work from home.

  9. GTA. Land prices are skyrocketing, and we are electrifying our first GO commuter train line which`ll provide 15 min all day service along the lake.

  10. Oh come on. It’s a 8 lane boulevard with Starbucks on the other side. Walk across, get to the gym, take the train for work. You make it sound like you’re scrambling across I-95, running a median, and then jumping onto the roof of a train.

  11. Streetsblog should photoshop what this parking lot will look like after Wynn Boston comes to town in 2019. When Pollack isn’t screwing over Boston’s black community, the disabled, or the state’s workers, she’s planning out casino prostitute busways and parking for Wynn. Boston literally found a US-compliant DMU that can turn into an EMU for Roxbury, and Pollack still denied them. The Boston DMUs now run in Toronto. That same train could have shrunk down the parking at MBTA Wellington (above photo) and MBTA Malden and MBTA Oak Grove and MBTA Sullivan and…

  12. It’s a shame, the GTA has much worse parking craters, mostly centred around GO lots. GO really needs the spotlight of shame shone on them, considering they operate like a parking provider that happens to provide transit instead of the other way around.

  13. Wellington was obviously built as a transfer point for people driving in on Route 16. Boston’s MBTA has a mix of walkable T stations and drive-in T stations with the intent of getting people out of their cars. Is that so wrong? Were the MBTA to finish its original plan of extending all lines out to Route 128, with appropriate parking garages built out there, that would lessen the demand for closer-in parking-oriented T stations.

    The land Wellington is built on is low-lying former industrial land, prone to flooding (especially with sea level rise) and full of brownfields. Were that parking lot to be redeveloped as housing, I would be hesitant to buy a home there.

    See here for what the actual plans are to improve the area, including bike paths along the Malden and Mystic Rivers, connecting with Wellington Station.

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Parking Madness: Medford vs. Hartford

There are three spots up for grabs in this year's Parking Madness Final Four, as readers vote to determine which North American transit station is drowning in the most shameful sea of parking. In today's match, Hartford's central transit hub takes on a T station just outside Boston.