RED LINE PASSENGERS on Monday said 16 days of repairs on the stretch of track between the Ashmont and JFK/UMass stations eliminated slow zones and dramatically improved service, but the ride remained unpredictable as one car during the afternoon experienced problems and had to be pulled from service.
“Absolutely awful experience once again,” said Alanya Leslie, 51, who got stuck on the defective train on the way to work. “This is my first time back on the Red Line. It’s their first opening. I didn’t have this much disruption when the Orange Line in the ‘70s was being constructed. This is awful. I’ll be an hour late for work.”
The train stopped for minutes at a time. It took more than 15 minutes to go two stops from Ashmont to Fields Corner. The ride from Ashmont to JFK/UMass took more than 25 minutes. The train was pulled out of service at JFK/UMass and passengers had to exit and wait for the next train to arrive.
Janae, a social worker and an avid rider of the MBTA who declined to provide her last name, said the out-of-service train was just as inconvenient as the slow zones the T just eliminated. “I’m going downtown to transfer to the Orange Line and I am on a time constraint because I have to pick up two little girls for my job so I can’t be late for their program,” she said. “Now I have to text their mom and give them a heads-up.”
But riders on trains that didn’t break down were pleased with their improved ride, with trains approaching speeds of 40 miles per hour.. “It’s definitely quicker today. I know recently they were doing work on it and the ride has been much faster so it’s not bad,” said Aaron Neville, a second-year student at the UMass Boston who takes the T to school from Ashmont.
Josephine Mullins, a 77-year-old who takes the T from Fields Corner to Government Center, described how long and elaborate her commute was when the Red Line wasn’t running to Ashmont. But she was impressed on Monday at how quickly the Red Line got her to her destination.
“This morning I was downtown in 26 minutes. I was early, which was really amazing,” Mullins said.
The MBTA shut down the stretch of Red Line between JFK/UMass and Ashmont and the entire Mattapan Line from October 14 to October 29, with passengers shifting to shuttle buses. During the shutdown, the T replaced nearly 5,000 feet of rail and 1,174 rail ties on the Ashmont Line and 4,700 feet of rail and 1,380 ties on the Mattapan Line.
T officials said the work removed all slow zones and cut travel times by 10 minutes. The shutdown was the first overseen by MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng and he has indicated more like it will be coming to eliminate more slow zones across the entire system.