One day off not too long ago, I had a weird hankering to ride the Braintree Branch. The long, long, LONG nonstop stretch between JFK and North Quincy has always been so out of place to the point of being captivating especially given that it passes by Savin Hill and that an infill station somewhere halfway between would do wonders. Also oddly captivating is the state of Wollaston being the last wheelchair-inaccessible station on the Red Line so I found it worthy of a visit.

Like the rest of the Braintree Branch, Wollaston is a good example of 1970s brutalism which comes off a prototype of a lot of the transit construction after it ranging from the Haymarket North extension of the Orange Line, WMATA, MARTA, and the matching Metros in Baltimore and Miami. Its inaccessibility comes in part due to a design flaw in which access to the very shallow and often flood-prone station lobby is via stairs and that finding an easy ADA-compliant solution may not be that easy. From the lobby you have two options on where to go.

Turn left and end up on Hancock Street/MA 3A where the neighborhoods of Wollaston and Norfolk Downs have some small shops, residences, the campus of Eastern Nazarene University, and a little ways away Wollaston Beach. Turn right and you end up at the traffic mess known as Newport Avenue. On the day I went, I chose the latter because I was hungry and since the beloved Clam Box on the beach wasn’t open, my choices for food were the Wendy’s on Newport or the hot food section of the Hannaford on Hancock. I chose the former on the basis of Coke Freestyle alone to be greeted with a machine which had 80% of its flavors including all diet soda out. The trip was more vindicated when someone’s abandoned pass was found on the sidewalk which I found to be the only solace of this trip and if you lost a pass there around January 11th, I’ll gladly pay your $18 back.

I should go back on a Summer weekend day as the atmosphere would be a lot different than on warm yet overcast January day. Next time I am exploring in the other direction though.

Station: Wollaston
Rating (1-10): 6

Ridership: Heavily concentrated of those living or working in the immediate area around the station including those affiliated with Eastern Nazarene and with some beachgoers in the Summer months. This may be the least spectacular of Quincy’s quartet of stations without offices, a bus hub and a nice downtown, or a huge park-and-ride, but it serves a purpose quite well.

Pros: Elevated stations are always fun especially considering it’s the only one on the Braintree Branch and the area around the station isn’t all that bad.

Cons: Flooding, wheelchair inaccessibility, lack of pedestrian access over the tracks. Given this was designed and largely constructed in the 1960s, I wonder what people were on in designing Wollaston.

Nearby and Noteworthy: From the date of this review, only 20 days until The Clam Box opens on Wollaston Beach and this year they’re opening an ice cream shop next-door. Also, for those wanting coffee that isn’t orange and purple or involves a green mermaid, Quincy’s Coffee Break Cafe has one of their three locations right outside the station with such oddball flavors as German Chocolate Cake and Whoopie Pie.

Across the tracks from said Hannaford on the Newport Ave side is Stop & Shop’s flagship location which is quite large, has beer and wine, and is often a testing ground for new concepts and ideas in the chain.


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