JFK/UMass station

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Outbound Braintree Branch train at JFK UMass station, July 2013.JPG
A southbound train on the Braintree Branch platform in 2013
Location 599 Old Colony Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts[1]
Coordinates 42°19′14″N 71°03′09″W / 42.32058°N 71.05239°W / 42.32058; -71.05239Coordinates: 42°19′14″N 71°03′09″W / 42.32058°N 71.05239°W / 42.32058; -71.05239
Owned by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Platforms 1 side platform (Commuter Rail)
2 island platforms (Red Line)
Tracks 1 (Commuter Rail)
4 (Red Line)
Parking None[1]
Bicycle facilities 18 spaces[1]
Disabled access Yes
Other information
Fare zone 1A
Opened November 5, 1927[2]
Rebuilt December 14, 1988[2]
Previous names Columbia
Passengers (2012) 421 daily boardings[3] (Commuter Rail)
Passengers (2013) 8,920 daily boardings[4] (Red Line)
Preceding station   MBTA.svg MBTA   Following station
toward Alewife
Red Line
toward Ashmont
Red Line
toward Braintree
Greenbush Line
toward Greenbush
Lakeville Line
Kingston/Plymouth Line
toward Kingston or Plymouth

JFK/UMass station is an MBTA transit station in Boston, Massachusetts. It is at the intersection of Columbia Road and Morrissey Boulevard in the Dorchester neighborhood. An important transfer station, it connects the Ashmont and Braintree branches of the Red Line, MBTA Commuter Rail's Greenbush Line and Old Colony Lines, and several MBTA Bus routes. Privately operated shuttle buses to the University of Massachusetts Boston, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, and the Massachusetts Archives are also available from the station.

Originally a commuter station of the Old Colony Railroad, it was rebuilt as a rapid transit station in 1927 for the Ashmont Branch. The Braintree Branch began using the station in 1988, and commuter rail service began servicing it in 2001.


Old Colony Railroad and BERy[edit]

Columbia station in March 1928

In 1845, the Old Colony Railroad opened between Boston and Plymouth, Massachusetts.[5] A station was opened at Crescent Avenue on November 2, 1868.[6] The depot building was replaced in 1883.[7]

In 1926, the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad, which had succeeded the Old Colony, closed its Shawmut Branch and sold it to the Boston Elevated Railway. The BERy built its Dorchester Extension of the Cambridge-Dorchester Line subway along the former railroad branch. The mainline stations at Crescent Avenue and Savin Hill were converted to rapid transit-only stations so that express trains to the South Shore and Cape Cod could bypass them. On November 5, 1927, Columbia station opened along with similar stations at Savin Hill and Fields Corner.[2] It was designed to allow a future platform extension for six-car trains, which was not needed until the 1980s.[8]

MBTA era[edit]

The Braintree Branch platform (left) opened in 1988, while the commuter platform (right) opened in 2001

Commuter service on the Old Colony lines ended in 1959, but subway service to Ashmont via Columbia continued. On August 26, 1965, the Cambridge-Dorchester Line rapid transit service was renamed as the Red Line.[2] In 1971, the Braintree (South Shore) Branch of the Red Line opened; trains ran past Columbia, but did not stop to speed travel time between Quincy and Boston.[2]

On December 1, 1982, the station was renamed as JFK/UMass after the nearby Boston campus of University of Massachusetts and the adjacent John F. Kennedy Library, although most station signs are subtitled as Columbia. A new $13.5 million platform for the Braintree Branch (South Shore Line) was opened as part of a general reconstruction on December 14, 1988 and henceforth all Red Line trains have stopped at the renovated station.[2][7]

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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[9]

JFK/UMass station was a proposed stop on the MBTA's planned Urban Ring Project.[10] 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 the most recent plan, the Urban Ring would access the station via Columbia Road, with a one-bay dedicated BRT platform in the existing busway.[11] The Urban Ring project is currently shelved due to the MBTA's financial difficulties.

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.[12]

Bus connections[edit]

JFK/UMass is often used as the northern terminus of replacement bus service during service disruptions on either Red Line branch. Here, buses line up at the station during planned track work on the Braintree Branch.

The station is also served by several MBTA Bus routes:

A privately operated shuttle bus connects the station with the UMass campus, the John F. Kennedy Library, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, and the Massachusetts Archives.

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.[2]

Station layout[edit]

Station Layout
Cabot Yard leads
Boston Street
Dorchester Ave.
Columbia Road
Ground Mezzanine and ground levels Fare control, entrance/exit
Platform level Side platform, doors will open on the left/right
Commuter rail platform Commuter rail lines; CapeFLYER does not stop here →
Northbound Braintree Red Line toward Alewife (Andrew)
Island platform, doors will open on the left
Southbound Braintree Red Line toward Braintree (North Quincy)
Northbound Ashmont Red Line toward Alewife (Andrew)
Island platform, doors will open on the left
Southbound Ashmont Red Line toward Ashmont (Savin Hill)
Illuminated arrow at the mezzanine level indicates which platform will be served by the next inbound train
JFK/UMass station from the east-side busway in 2015

The two Red Line island platforms at JFK/UMass have an unusual configuration. This is the only MBTA rapid transit station where trains from different branches of a line serve two separate island platforms; the Ashmont and Braintree branches merge immediately inbound from (or north of) the station. This peculiar platform configuration comes from the historical fact that originally the Braintree Branch trains all bypassed the station, until a separate island platform was later added on for that branch. An automatic illuminated sign at the fare mezzanine level indicates the correct platform for the next inbound train, so inbound passengers do not have to guess which inbound platform will be served next.

This odd setup can be compared to the junction station at Kenmore, where pairs of tracks serve different Green Line branches from a separate inbound island platform and a separate outbound island platform. The commuter rail stations at Back Bay and Canton Junction have separate platforms for different lines that diverge near those stations.

The unusual configuration is part of a complex track network connecting various segments of the Red Line. North of JFK/UMass station, the mainline tracks coming south from Andrew surface between the tracks leading to Cabot Yard. The yard lead tracks connect to the main tracks on the outside of a flying junction which separates the Ashmont and Braintree tracks.[13] Through the station, the Ashmont Branch tracks are on the west side of the station, with the Braintree tracks in the middle of the station, and the single Old Colony commuter rail track on the east side. South of the station, the Braintree Branch crosses over the commuter rail tracks via a lengthy flyover.[13] There is a plaque, dated 1995, in the station dedicating this "DeVaughn Flyover" to Milton DeVaughn, who "gave his life in pursuit of his duties". DeVaughn, an MBTA track worker, died in December 1993 when he fell under the wheels of an MBTA work train.[14]

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 platform, similar to the arrangements at the Andrew station. The flying junction between the Ashmont and Braintree branches would be streamlined and 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.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "JFK/UMass". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Belcher, Jonathan (31 December 2011). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Humphrey, Thomas J. (21 December 2012). "MBTA Commuter Rail Passenger Count Results" (PDF). Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  4. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14th ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014. 
  5. ^ Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. pp. 310–315. ISBN 0942147022. 
  6. ^ Jacobs, Warren (October 1928). "Dates of Some of the Principal Events in the History of 100 Years of the Railroad in New England. 1826-1926". The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin. Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (17): 15–28. 
  7. ^ a b Cheney, Frank (2002). Boston's Red Line: Bridging the Charles from Alewife to Braintree. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 77–80. ISBN 9780738510477. 
  8. ^ "First Station Completed on Dorchester Rapid Transit". Electric Railway Journal. McGraw-Hill Company. 70 (11): 428. 10 September 1927 – via Internet Archive. 
  9. ^ a b Central Transportation Planning Staff (January 2012). "Improving the Southwest Expressway: A Conceptual Plan" (PDF). Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "Urban Ring Phase 2 FACT SHEET" (PDF). Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation. January 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2011. 
  11. ^ "The Urban Ring Phase 2: Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement" (PDF). Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation. November 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  12. ^ Feathers, Todd (30 January 2013). "MBTA installs 50 surveillance cameras at JFK/UMass Red Line stop to fight crime in area". Boston Globe. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2009. p. 2.11. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "T worker dies following accident". Boston Globe  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 4 December 1993. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 

External links[edit]