A southbound train on the Braintree Branch platform in 2013
|Location||599 Old Colony Avenue|
|Owned by||Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority|
|Line(s)||Old Colony Mainline|
|Platforms||1 side platform (Commuter Rail) |
2 island platforms (Red Line)
|Tracks||1 (Commuter Rail)|
4 (Red Line)
|Connections|| MBTA Bus: 8, 16, 41|
UMass Boston shuttle
|Bicycle facilities||Racks available|
|Fare zone||1A (Commuter Rail)|
|Opened||November 5, 1927|
|Rebuilt||December 14, 1988|
|Previous names||Columbia (1927-1982)|
|Passengers (2018)||362 daily boardings (Commuter Rail)|
|Passengers (2013)||8,920 daily boardings (Red Line)|
JFK/UMass station is an Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) intermodal transfer station, located adjacent to the Columbia Point area of Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts. It is served by the rapid transit Red Line; the Greenbush Line, Kingston/Plymouth Line, and Middleborough/Lakeville Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail system, and three MBTA Bus routes. The station is named for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the University of Massachusetts Boston, both located nearby on Columbia Point.
JFK/UMass station has four tracks and two island platforms for the Ashmont and Braintree branches of the Red Line, with one track and one side platform for Commuter Rail. A waiting room and fare lobby over the Red Line platforms is connected to Columbia Road, Sydney Street, and the busway on the east side of the station by footbridge. The station is fully accessible. North of the station, the complex Columbia Junction connects the two Red Line branches with the downtown tunnel and Cabot Yard lead tracks.
The Old Colony Railroad first opened through the area in 1845, with Crescent Avenue station opened in 1868 and rebuilt in 1883. The Boston Elevated Railway began construction of Columbia station on the Dorchester Extension of the Cambridge-Dorchester Tunnel in 1925. Crescent Avenue station closed in July 1927; Columbia station opened on November 5, with an additional footbridge added in 1929. The station was modernized in 1970, though without a platform for South Shore (Braintree Branch) service, which started in 1971. The station became more important after UMass Boston opened in 1974, and a 1987-88 renovation added a platform for the Braintree Branch. Commuter Rail service on the former Old Colony, last operated in 1959, resumed in 1997; however, the platform at JFK/UMass did not open until 2001.
Old Colony Railroad and BERy
In the early 1920s, the Boston Elevated Railway (BERy) began planning an extension of the Cambridge-Dorchester Tunnel over the Shawmut Branch to Ashmont. The New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad, which had succeeded the Old Colony, sold the Shawmut Branch to the BER, with service ending on September 6, 1926. The mainline stations at Crescent Avenue and Savin Hill were kept open during construction. Crescent Avenue station was closed on July 15, 1927 for final construction and demolished shortly thereafter.
Crescent Avenue was replaced with Columbia station, which primarily served the residential areas to the west. The station had a single island platform, 300 feet (91 m) long and varying 20–25 feet (6.1–7.6 m) wide, covered with a full-length reinforced concrete canopy. It was designed to be extended southwards if future ridership required six-car trains. The entrance to the station was from the Columbia Road overpass; like other stations on the Dorchester Extension, it was a rectangular red brick structure with red sandstone and Concord granite trim. The roofs of the headhouse, the stairway to the platform, and the canopy were all flashed with copper. Fare control was in the headhouse, with a waiting room on the platform. The station was designed by William D. Austin.
Construction of the station began in 1925 with the reconstruction of the Columbia Road bridge. The station platform was built in mid-1926. Construction was completed in May 1927; the station was finished during the next several months under the possibility it would open before Savin Hill and Fields Corner. The three stations ultimately opened together on November 5, 1927.
In November 1928, the BERy began construction of a second station entrance from Sydney Street at Crescent Avenue. A footbridge was built over the southbound track at the south end of the station, with fare control located on a short extension of the platform. The new entrance opened on March 18, 1929; by May, it was used by 42% of passengers at the station. In late 1938, the footbridge was extended east over the other tracks to serve a parking area.
The New Haven Railroad ended commuter service on the Old Colony lines in 1959, but subway service to Ashmont via Columbia continued. On July 28, 1965, the MBTA signed an agreement with the New Haven Railroad to purchase 11 miles (18 km) of the former Old Colony mainline from Fort Point Channel to South Braintree in order to construct a new rapid transit line along the corridor. The line was expected to be completed within two years. On August 26, 1965, the Cambridge-Dorchester Line was renamed as the Red Line as part of a rebranding by the MBTA, which had taken over the system in 1964.
The MBTA began a station modernization program in 1967, with modifications to Columbia taking place in 1970. The platform was extended to the south, making it long enough for six-car trains (which were not run until 1987). The original brick headhouse was replaced with a plain concrete headhouse, which opened on February 20, 1970, and the platform waiting room was removed. The footbridge was also replaced. The South Shore Branch (later the Braintree Branch) opened in 1971. Trains used two new tracks on the east side of Columbia; they did not stop in order to speed travel time between Quincy and Boston.
The Columbia Point Development opened to the southeast of the station in 1954; residents of the housing development secured the 1962 closure of the city dump, which opened the peninsula to development. The station further increased in importance with the 1974 opening of the UMass Boston campus on Columbia Point, followed by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in 1979. On December 2, 1982, the station was renamed as JFK/UMass after the campus and library. Repairs to the Columbia Road bridge closed the north entrance from early 1982 until January 10, 1983.
A groundbreaking ceremony for a Braintree Branch platform and general reconstruction was held on July 16, 1987. A large waiting room and fare control lobby was built over the center of the platforms, with footbridges to Sydney Street on the west and a new busway on the east. The 1970s Columbia Road entrance became exit-only; an adjacent footbridge to the lobby was added. The south footbridge was modified with a connection to the new platform, and became exit-only. The east part of the footbridge was removed and an employee building constructed in its place. The $13.5 million platform for the Braintree Branch opened on December 14, 1988, allowing all Red Line trains to stop at the renovated station. The renovation included elevators to both platforms, making the station accessible.
Commuter rail service on the Middleborough/Lakeville and Plymouth/Kingston lines was restored in September 1997, but the commuter platform at JFK/UMass did not open until April 30, 2001. This was the first time that mainline commuter trains stopped at the station since 1927. Several rush-hour Greenbush Line trains began to stop concurrent with that line's restoration in 2007. Not all weekday commuter trains on the lines stop, however, because the station is in a single-tracked bottleneck section of the otherwise double-tracked route. All weekend trains, which operate on more limited schedules, stop at the station. Conceptual plans released in January 2012 would restore a second commuter rail track through the station, allowing many more trains to stop.
JFK/UMass station was a proposed stop on the MBTA's planned Urban Ring Project. The Urban Ring was to be a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line designed to connect the current MBTA lines to reduce strain on the downtown stations. Under 2008 plans, the Urban Ring would access the station via Columbia Road, with a one-bay dedicated BRT platform in the existing busway. The project was cancelled in January 2010. In 2012 and 2013, the MBTA installed over 50 security cameras in the station - in addition to around a dozen already present - in response to an increase of crime in nearby areas. Improvements to the station were proposed in 2014 as part of the city's bid for the 2024 Olympics, which was withdrawn in 2015.
On June 11, 2019, a Red Line train derailed just north of JFK/UMass station, damaging three sheds of signal equipment that control the nearby Columbia Junction. The Red Line was limited to 10 trains per hour (instead of the usual 13-14) for several months while repairs were made. Full service resumed on September 25, 2019.
JFK/UMass station is located south of Columbia Road near Kosciuszko Circle, with the Interstate 93 viaduct to the south and west and Morrissey Boulevard to the east. The Red Line has four tracks and two island platforms at the station; the west platform is served by the Ashmont Branch, and the east platform by the Braintree Branch. (This unusual configuration is the result of the decision to not originally have the Braintree Branch stop at the station.) East of the Red Line is a single track used by the three commuter rail lines, with a high-level side platform on its east side. A two-lane busway, drop-off lane, and plaza are located east of the tracks.
A waiting room and fare lobby is located over the middle of the Red Line platforms, with elevators and stairs to both platforms. Footbridges connect the lobby to the Columbia Road bridge to the north, Sydney Street to the west, and the east plaza via a ramp structure. Exit-only stairs also lead from the north ends of the Red Line platforms to Columbia Road, and from the south ends to Sydney Street at Crescent Avenue. Because northbound Red Line trains arrive on two different platforms, an automatic illuminated sign in the lobby indicates which platform the next northbound train will arrive at.
North of the station is a complex Red Line interlocking called Columbia Junction. The two track line from downtown Boston exits the tunnel under Dorchester Avenue about 0.4 miles (0.6 km) north of JFK/UMass station and splits into the four tracks with a flying junction. The junction also connects two yard leads from Cabot Yard, the main Red Line maintenance facility, which is located on the surface near Broadway. South of the station, the Braintree Branch tracks cross over the commuter rail tracks via a lengthy flyover. The flyover is dedicated to Milton DeVaughn, an MBTA track worker, who died in December 1993 when he fell under the wheels of an MBTA work train.
In January 2012, the state's Central Transportation Planning staff released a conceptual plan for widening the Southeast Expressway which would also involve completely rearranging JFK/UMass station. The four Red Line tracks would be consolidated to two tracks sharing a single island platform, which would eliminate the awkwardness of northbound Red Line trains arriving on separate platforms. Columbia Junction would be streamlined, with the split between the Ashmont and Braintree branches moved to just south of the station. This would allow for a second commuter rail track through the station, allowing more commuter trains to stop there and eliminating a major bottleneck for the Old Colony Lines and the Greenbush Line.
|Side platform for Commuter Rail|
|← MBTA Commuter Rail (Some trains and CapeFLYER do not stop)→|
|Northbound||← Red Line toward Alewife (Andrew)|
|Island platform for Braintree Branch|
|Southbound||Red Line toward Braintree (North Quincy) →|
|Northbound||← Red Line toward Alewife (Andrew)|
|Island platform for Ashmont Branch|
|Southbound||Red Line toward Ashmont (Savin Hill) →|
Columbia was not built as a transfer station; streetcar - and later, bus - routes mostly served Andrew and Fields Corner. Bus service to the station began in 1954 when the Columbia Point Development was constructed, and increased in 1974 when the UMass campus opened. The 1988 renovations added a dedicated two-lane busway on the east side of the station. The station is by three MBTA Bus routes:
- 8: Harbor Point/UMass - Kenmore
- 16: Forest Hills - Andrew or Harbor Point
- 41: Centre Street & Eliot Street - JFK/UMass Station
During service disruptions - both planned track work and unplanned incidents - JFK/UMass is often used as the terminus of busing on either Red Line branch.
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