Frustrated passengers endure long journey on the Red Line

Commuters waited on the inbound Red Line platform at the JFK/UMass station in Dorchester Wednesday.
Commuters waited on the inbound Red Line platform at the JFK/UMass station in Dorchester Wednesday. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

BRAINTREE — Diane Gallow, 71, was waiting at the MBTA’s Red Line stop here around 9:30 a.m. to take her friend Mary Ann Calderwood, 72, to an appointment at Massachusetts General Hospital in downtown Boston.

Gallow said the two women from Pembroke had planned on driving because of the Red Line problems, but “there was too much traffic.”

Instead, they started their commute “even earlier than we anticipated” and hoped they’d make it to the 11 a.m. appointment on time.

They weren’t worried about part of the Red Line being shut down starting at 11, and would likely take one of the shuttle buses being provided between the JFK station and Quincy.


We’ll “take our time coming back,” Gallow said.


Michael MacMurdo, 28, got off a Braintree train at JFK/UMass station in Dorchester because, like everyone else, he had to. Along with the rest of the passengers he walked up a flight of stairs and then down another flight of stairs on the other side of the station to wait for the next inbound train.

He said it took an extra half hour to get from Braintree to JFK/UMass this morning. “The train was just like stop and go, all the way here,” he said.

And he still had a way to go on his journey to work. “I have to go to Central Square,” he said. “So it’s gonna be a bit of a trip.”

He thought that the problems caused by Tuesday’s derailment would be resolved by now.

“I guess it’s still an issue,” he said.


Red Line riders heading south Wednesday said their commute was riddled with delays, but their expectations were already low.

Hume Vance was on his way from Davis Square to South Station for work. He said Tuesday’s experience was “awful” and Wednesday’s was not much better.


“It’s just a tragedy and a travesty,” said Vance, who has been commuting for 25 years and said things have been getting worse and worse. “It just speaks to incredibly poor management.”

Jeannie Baca, 33, works in health care and was on her way to Dorchester. She said Wednesday’s commute was bad, but she always expects to be late to work when using the Red Line.

Baca said she got to work Tuesday using a mix of subway lines and buses — taking a Lyft would have been $150.

“I’d rather walk 7 miles than pay” that much, she said.

Baca said another derailment seems inevitable, but she doesn’t have another way to get to work.

Nikhi Naikawadi, on his way from Cambridge to work near the JFK/UMass stop, said the commute Wednesday was OK but extremely crowded.

“Much more than usual, it’s been packed in,” he said.

Naikawadi, 35, said he will consider ditching the Red Line and starting to use commuter rail, but he’s not sure how that system works.

He said that he had to walk for half an hour to work Tuesday, since the shuttles didn’t go to JFK, and was an hour late.


Gladys Gonzalez, 55, was sitting on a bench at JFK/UMass waiting for an inbound train to South Station. She had come from Quincy and was on her way to work.

Gonzalez is from New York and came to Massachusetts about six months ago for this job.


“When I first came here, I said to myself that the trains here in Boston are very efficient, you know?” she said. “Oh, yeah, except for today. This reminds me of New York.”

Derailments and congestion are common occurrences on New York’s subway system, she said.

Since she’s been here, she hasn’t experienced any problems with the public transportation system ... until now.

“Yesterday, I had to drive in, which was another ordeal,” she said. “The traffic was unbelievable.”

It took her 45 minutes to cross the Neponset River Bridge, she said.

Gonzalez said she was going to be late for work Wednesday.

“And I left early today,” she said.

She said she’ll just have to be patient, and keep it in perspective.

“It could be worse,” she said.


Ken Spring said he was on the way from a Forest Hills homeless shelter to an appointment, and was having trouble getting through the packed subway due to his neuropathy.

“It’s so crowded,” he said. “If there was an emergency on an overcrowded train like this, we’d never get off.”


Mark and Kumi, a married couple from Quincy who declined to provide their last names, said they “rushed it” Wednesday morning to get on the train after hearing about the delay. They wanted to avoid the shutdown between JFK and North Quincy.

Once they’re done visiting a travel agency in Downtown Crossing, Mark said they’re going to “hang around in town” until about 1:30 p.m. so that the Red Line will be back in service on their way home.


He said Boston’s chronic transportation problems prompted him to take a job in Stoughton.

“I really didn’t want to have to go to the [job] in Boston because of the commute,” Mark said.


Carl Herling, 62, was on his way from Braintree to South Station for work, and said he’d already been frustrated by the delays — though they’re not as bad as Tuesday’s.

“Yesterday was three hours,” Herling said.

Herling is often able to work from home, but said he feels especially bad for hourly employees and those with disabilities. He thinks politicians are to blame for the MBTA’s issues.

“If the governor got his ass out of his police-escorted limousine and took ... the mass transit like the rest of us taxpaying schmucks, he’d understand the crisis we have,” Herling said. “I’ve been around the world, and this is about the worst mass transit system.”

Kellen Browning can be reached at kellen.browning@globe.com, or on Twitter at @kellen_browning.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.