T to make call on lane at Ashmont next week

The general manager of the MBTA will decide how to deal with the Radford Lane entrance to Ashmont Station, agency officials said on Monday. Rich Davey, the head of the agency, will make the call by late next week, they said.

The entrance has stayed closed during the reconstruction of the station, which serves as one terminus of the Red Line and as a connector to the Mattapan trolley line. The closing has frustrated residents, particularly the elderly who are forced to walk up a hill and down Ashmont Street to get to the station.

But the way the Radford Lane entrance, located behind the station and in front of Bushnell Street, was redesigned requires customers to pay twice if they use it to exit the station. Riders would pay to enter at Radford Lane and again to enter the northbound platform to exit through Radford Lane, according to the MBTA. Riders with a weekly or monthly passes wouldn’t pay an additional fare.

MBTA officials met on Monday night at the Mason Hall on Minot Street to hear from a few dozen peeved area residents, who offered up their own solutions.

“We are looking at any and all solutions at this point,” said Scott Andrews, the Red Line’s superintendent.

The suggestions ranged from having a customer service representative from the MBTA wave local residents through the gates to avoid paying a second fare to rewriting the software used in the fare gates to accommodate residents.

Others said special or discounted passes should be offered to the neighborhood. A ramp up to the northbound platform, as another suggested, was deemed not feasible by MBTA officials.

Only one other station on the Red Line had a similar problem, Andrews said, when pressed by audience members. Quincy Adams had an entrance like Radford Lane, but the city agreed to close it because the back streets were often flooded with cars dropping off riders.

Dan Larner, executive director of St. Mark’s Area Main Street, which has an office across from Ashmont Station, said he was hopeful that the MBTA would come up with a solution. He said that another problem at Ashmont Station – the screeching of the trolley wheels as they rounded the turn and made their way back towards Mattapan – is mostly wrapped up and the “noise is just about gone.”

But the meeting was dominated by residents who are frustrated by the slow pace of the reconstruction project, which has been in the works for much of the last decade. A grand opening for Ashmont Station is tentatively scheduled for next month.

“It just keeps going on and on,” said one resident who declined to provide his name. “That entrance should’ve been open two years ago.”

Moo Bishop, a Bushnell Street resident, said the idea of a customer service representative is a “good idea. I don’t want them to do a big ribbon-cutting with the mayor before the entrance is fixed,” since it may not ever get resolved if that happens, she said.

Echoing the sentiment of a number of meeting attendees, Bishop added, “I’m tired of walking around the block.”