Government Center station re-opens next month - with colored lights

Illuminated Government Center station in Boston

The T reports Government Center is still on track to re-open late next month, after two years of renovations.

The T adds the lights are programmable and multi-colored, which could lead to interesting possibilities for concerts and performances on City Hall Plaza.



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Explain why the colored lights

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are necessary. More wa$te of resources in the name ot asethetics. And exactly the type of CRAP the "review" board should be putting a stop to.

LEDs aren't that expensive anymore

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I understand the concern, but compared to the entire cost of basically building a new station, a small amenity like lights probably wouldn't have made much of a difference. It's not like, oh, a $1 billion overrun on the Green Line Extension here.

It's not so much the cost

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as the principle. Sure, the new Government Center headhouse will have fancy outline lighting. But the passengers using the station will still be faced with the same less than consistent, less than reliable service they had before it was closed.

And outline lighting won't get the customers to their destinations any faster.

No. I raise concerns about admittedly frivilous

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and questionable expenditures and practices by an agency that claims to be perpetually broke and has consistently failed to live up to its primary mission - to provide a safe and reliable transportation service for the City's residents.

But I guess people are more interested in cheezy baubles and tinsel instead.


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No. I raise concerns about admittedly frivilous and questionable expenditures and practice

There has to be lighting of some kind. Have you established that this lighting costs more than any other kind? If it's functional, where's the frivolity? Are you just angry because it's not a series of bare bulbs stuck in unornamented sockets?

But I guess people are more interested in cheezy baubles and tinsel instead.

You guess wrong. That's a frequent consequence of creating false dichotomies. Lighting that doesn't look ass-ugly and functional transportation are not mutually exclusive. Now go kick those kids off your lawn.

Think lights are wasteful?

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Consider that all the glass initially installed in the tower had to be pulled and replaced because the construction company mistakenly used interior glass.

Lighting that doesn't look

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Lighting that doesn't look ass-ugly

Except that this isn't the interior lighting. It's purely a DECORATIVE fringe that serves no legitimate purpose in illuminating the station.

And if lighting is functional and serves a proper purpose, who really cares how it looks?


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And if lighting is functional and serves a proper purpose, who really cares how it looks?

You're right. It's outrageous also that the city has a Christmas tree or has holiday lights at Quincy Market.

It's not like those lights are actually functional: I mean, the street lights in Boston Common and by Quincy Market are quite sufficient.

And don't get me started on the lights on the trees along the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. What a monumental waste of electricity when the city can't even sufficiently plow the streets and sidewalks.


Point taken

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But by your logic, why don't we put outline lights on every building in the City?


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...not every building in the city is publicly owned.

You really need some milk and cookies and a hug, don't you?

Exactly! — It's Another Insult To Ⓣ Riders

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A spectacular example of misplaced priorities, this whole glass tower deal is just for people who never ride the to admire; it doesn't do anything to improve transit service.

Passengers would feel differently, if the were spending appropriately to keep the system well maintained and providing service that meets customers' needs.

People stranded when the trains fail and workers who can't get home because the system shuts down too early at night will find no cheer in colored lights.


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Somebody else out here who gets it. Thanks Elmer!

So, while I agree that the

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So, while I agree that the new head house is completely monstrous and shouldn't have been built, its not like they could take this money and use it for the maintenance backlog or anything else - the station overhaul was brought to you by the Feds for ADA compliance and is a (forced) use it or lose it that really couldn't have been transferred to anything else.

Lights are a lot cheaper than

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Lights are a lot cheaper than the helipad we are paying to construct for GE bosses too important to take a mere limo all the way to the airport.


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Because clearly those two things are related to each other.

They definitely are related,

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They definitely are related, they both reveal what the state is willing to spend money on. You are complaining the state is spending money adding lights to the exterior of stations, I assume you dont like the Zakim lights as well. I was saying in my mind spending millions of tax dollars from the state to build a helipad for a few extremely wealthy people is a much more egregious, and expensive, waste of tax money.

Not paying attention, are we?

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Because clearly those two things are related to each other.

They're a lot more closely related than station lights = trains can't possibly run, ever.

Donated like the Zakim?

If I had the time, I'd probably be able to find your complaints about that, too.

How long has it been since you looked into lighting systems? Forty years? That kind of lighting is a super cheap thing to do now. This isn't neon, nor is it 1985. Check out Boston Bike Party if you want to know just how cheap and easy this lighting is to do - people wrap themselves in it!


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Is it NECESSARY? That is the question we should be asking, instead of "well, it's inexpensive enough, so let's do it.

Hint - all those "inexpensive" things add up over time. And nice how you managed to slip a bike reference in there.

Necessary - maybe?

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Look, I'm always happy to jump on people yammering about world class city, etc... but the fact is that this is exactly the kind of small thing which enriches the overall urban environment in a positive way. If you're traveling around the city at night (as a tourist or a resident), this is a nice bit of color and interest. For all the complaining people do about the Gov't Center plaza, this will look great for low money.

It's a bit like the light on the Hancock building - necessary, not at all but it adds to the city. Same as the soundscape at the parking garage at Logan. Rebuilding the Northern Ave bridge for no reason, giving $1b to the convention center - these are the kinds of things which add up fast - not this.

Who can say what is "necessary" and what isn't?

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Yes, I take the T and would really like to have decent service that I can depend on. However, saying the lights are crap, a frivolity, unnecessary, etc. seems a narrow view to me. I like the look of the lights, and I will enjoy them when I use that station or when I'm walking down Cambridge Street. Attractive sights lift the soul, just as music and the other arts do. If you want a purely utilitarian building, take a look at the depressing Soviet architecture in satellite countries like Romania or Albania. Try living with that and seeing if you can keep from feeling suicidal. This is the same attitude that cuts funding for arts courses and sports in schools because they're not "relevant" like science and technology courses. Sure, good service is the most important quality the MBTA could give us, and I realize that every time my Red Line train breaks down. However, given the modest cost of the lighting, I think it's a good investment and one that Boston can be proud of.


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No, but I do it anyway, because it's sterile, and I like the taste.

I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what you want here--bare 60-watt bulbs dangling precariously from pullchains? Issue flashlights to T riders? Close the station at dusk? There isn't the faintest hint that the lighting scheme they chose is any more expensive than your standard "flickering orange sodium light" aesthetic, and there seems to be general consensus that it's a visual improvement in an area that very badly needs it.

I get the gist of what you're saying, but this is a deeply weird hill to die on.

Where did I say I have issues

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with lighting the INTERIOR of the headhouse? Outlining the edges of the headhouse with purely DECORATIVE lighting is the issue here.

And I have yet to see any proof that this purely aesthetic amenity is needed at all.

I dunno...

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Is it necessary for you to be so insufferable? I pay taxes and think it's a good addition to the station. And since I value my opinion more than yours, I think that more than justifies the lights at the station.

When you can add up all of the "unnecessary" things that would even touch the $7b SGR gap, come back and I'll consider your opinion.

There's a sale...

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There's a sale on burlap sacks at Wal-Mart. If you hurry, you can get your entire spring wardrobe.

To offer a different side...

We could also ask is your, or anyone's post on this subject matter NECESSARY? Of course not, but yet, some type of broadband service was paid for to access the internet, and we're using the expense toward being here, watching you comment repeatedly about this small detail.

You can, and did likely purchase services to allow you to get on this site and's already done for. Kind of like they could purchase cost-efficient modern lighting, and's already done for.

(editing for spelling)

they must be fans of A Streetcar Named Desire

"Listen, baby, when we first met - you and me - you thought I was common. Well, how right you was. I was common as dirt. You showed me a snapshot of the place with them columns, and I pulled you down off them columns, and you loved it, having them colored lights goin'. And wasn't we happy together? Wasn't it all okay till she showed here? And wasn't we happy together? Wasn't it all OK? Till she showed here. Hoity-toity, describin' me like a ape."

Coming from experience (i'm

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Coming from experience (i'm in the design and construction industry), the difference between colored and plain white LEDs in this day and age is negligible. In the end, what matters is that the cost to run LEDs is probably 1/4 the cost of the fixtures in the old station.


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Does anyone know the status of Bowdoin once Government Center reopens? I've heard both yes and no, as to whether Bowdoin will remain open.


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You really think so, huh? What the T says and what it does are two different things.


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You say that like it's a bad thing.


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Isn't this a national trend of the death of the gay bar, not just a Boston thing?

Turn all the colors on all

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Turn all the colors on all the time with light just makes white light....It should go dark when things aren't working right, it'd save electricity and let people know Boston is closed for business (except for the wealthy who drive in). Win win.

Even if we disagree as to whether they're frivolous...

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perhaps we can all agree that the timing of the announcement/press effort was about as ridiculous as it could have been (on the tail of the entire south side CR network melting down)? It does not matter that it was an Amtrak problem - UHub readers know that most people in the public chalk it up to "another gubmit failure" (and those of you who read my comments here regularly know how much it pains me to have to make that statement, considering that I have previously posted thing entitled "know your government").

But really, how the heck could the T have started talking about pretty lights and not expected to be pilloried given yesterday?

What a bunch of nattering nabobs of negativity!

Doesn't anybody remember the disgusting bunker that this station is replacing? You're never going to get 100% agreement on any matter of taste, but in my opinion the glass structure and lighting design look infinitely nicer.
I mean, have we really sunk so low that we're going to make all our design decisions based purely on cost? Relatively speaking, it doesn't seem that these architectural and lighting decisions added that much to the overall cost. And notwithstanding individual aesthetics, can't we agree, as human beings in a civilized society, that simply making things look nice is a worthwhile goal?

Did someone say negativity?

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Every time this comes up, all I can think of is that press conference that Rick Pitino gave, wherein he made the famous "not walking through that door" comment. At the end (after the video ends), was this nugget:

I wish we had $90 million under the salary cap. I wish we could buy the world. We can't; the only thing we can do is work hard, and all the negativity that's in this town sucks. I've been around when Jim Rice was booed. I've been around when Yastrzemski was booed. And it stinks. It makes the greatest town, greatest city in the world, lousy. The only thing that will turn this around is being upbeat and positive like we are in that locker room... and if you think I'm going to succumb to negativity, you're wrong. You've got the wrong guy leading this team.

The sentiment remains (although less so in sports) to this day. While I find the fatalist theme somewhat charming, it's an example of how we are often our own worst enemy.

I'm sure it will look nice

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Once a less terrible plaza is built around it. But in the meantime, I'll settle for the removal of the miles of fencing and concrete barriers that have completely closed off any pedestrian traversal of the plaza that makes any ergonomic sense at all.

Who is going to maintain it?

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As others have said in previous posts on the Government Center renovation, wait until the pigeons/vandals have their way with the glass. I'll add, wait until a few strips of lights go out. Enjoy opening day because if it's like everything else on the T, it will never look the same. The T should follow the lead of the School Building Authority and develop a few basic but nice, prototype headhouse designs that can be adjusted by location and square footage instead of monstrosities like this that will never be maintained. They can't even light the T signs outside half the stations.


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I'm sorry, but roadman and Elmer have commandeered the cranky pants for the day. You'll simply have to wait your turn.

for the day?

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For the day.. anytime there's any article about the T, they find some way to complain about the T.

I'm convinced that the T could build stainless steel stations, that are cleaned every hour with a tooth brush, with trains that arrive every 5 minutes, that are replaced every 6 months.. and they'd STILL find some reason to complain about it.

Complainers love to complain, and the T is an easy target.

Stainless steel

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Stainless steel is too cold and industrial looking. And cleaning it with a toothbrush would take far too long. The T would be closed for hours while they were cleaning it.

Technology is Wonderful

I'll add, wait until a few strips of lights go out.

If they are led lights, that will take a long while. Like, a very long while. A ten to fifteen years of constantly being on long while.

Go look at any LED traffic

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Go look at any LED traffic light and you'll see individual LEDs are already dead. Some of those traffic lights are only a couple years old. Just because LEDs last "forever" in theory doesn't mean that they do, along with all the control circuitry and so on, in actual practice, especially in harsh conditions like outdoors or a T station.

Nice color

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Actually it is very functional. It gives me another place to charge my power ring. Except when its yellow, of course.

All things considered, people bitched and moaned about the old entrance looking like a bomb shelter, now they can complain about this.

Lincoln was right.

Move on...

So, uh, now that we have

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So, uh, now that we have colored lights and all, can we finally have trains that run on time?

One percent for art

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Patrick supported it, Baker vetoed it, I've no idea what rules applied to this project but setting aside some trivial fraction of construction costs for beautification is typical. While any non-essential expenditure sets off rage in some folks personally I prefer not to live in a Stalinist utilitarian set of blocks (eg what it replaces.)

As others have noted the incremental cost of colored LED lighting is negligible and while individual components may fail the overall plant and functionality remain unaffected. As a decorative feature they strike me as being very cost effective.

Since this structure is likely to be with us for a long time every reasonable effort towards making it an appreciated part of our city is welcome.

I am unimpressed

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The MBTA should have simple, functional, easy to maintain subway entances, with clear, easily noticeable branding (the circle with the T), brightly lit at night. This thing looks cheesy, at least to me. Another exampleof a poorly designed subway entrance is North Station...if you didn't know it was there, you'd easily miss it. Very poor signage and branding, and poor lighting on the outside. South Station also has poor signage.

Sorry to piss on anyone's parade.