Pats Fans, Commuters Combine To Test MBTA's Limits

It seems like Julian Edelman could get his wish: transit officials said Tuesday morning that, based on commuter rail ridership, this New England Patriots' Super Bowl championship parade "will be the biggest one yet."

Reports from commuters and fans taking public transportation into Boston for the parade or work Tuesday morning showed trains loaded with #12 shirts and platforms packed with people of all ages wearing Pats jerseys. Keolis, which runs the commuter rail, said in a press release that ridership appeared to be at record levels. Warm mid-winter weather seemed to make the parade an appealing option for more people.

"We are seeing extraordinary ridership levels across the entire network, notably higher than seen for previous parades and almost certainly the highest ridership ever seen on the network," the company wrote. "Early estimates suggest ridership is much more than double a typical weekday."

Seven additional coach cars on certain rides and 16 additional trains have been deployed to help with the crowds, according to Keolis. The MBTA's commuter rail Twitter account suggested the parade "will be the biggest one yet" as riders continued to line streets downtown around 9:30 a.m.

As a result of the surge, though, many trains were "continuing to reach capacity early due to heavy parade ridership" and "running express past" — or simply not stopping at — some stations once they were full, the MBTA said. That frustrated commuters who rely on the commuter trains to get to work daily.

On the South Shore, all seats on the 8:50 a.m. train from Greenbush station in Scituate was were taken before the train reached its first stop at North Scituate. More riders piled on during stops in Cohasset, Hingham and East Weymouth. When the train reached the East Braintree/Weymouth Landing station, the platform was full but people were turned away because the train was also full. At South Station, parade-goers flooded the streets and sidewalks, blending with drivers and commuters going about their daily business.

The Franklin commuter rail line experienced additional significant delays during rush hour Tuesday morning after a pedestrian was struck and killed by a train in Norwood around 8:15 a.m., officials said. By 9 a.m., trains began running inbound again, but with delays of up to 55 minutes, according to the MBTA.

At about 11 a.m., the MBTA said outbound service on the D branch of the Green Line was suspended between Kenmore and Reservoir due to a derailment at Beaconsfield. Inbound service was operating, the T said, but with "severe delays." Shuttle buses were pressed into service to replace trains.

Parking was in short supply along the transit network, too. At 9:06 a.m., lots were full at Alewife, Beverly, Braintree, Quincy Adams and Wonderland stations, with Salem and Woodland approaching capacity, according to the MBTA's official parking account on Twitter. By 9:30 a.m., the lots at Riverside, North Quincy, Oak Grove and Wellington were also full to capacity.

The parade, celebrating the Patriots 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, was set to kick off from the Hynes Convention Center at 11 a.m. It will roll down Boylston Street, take a left at Tremont Street and end near City Hall Plaza on Cambridge Street.

The stretch of the parade route along Tremont Street near Park Street was lined with Patriots fans standing two or three deep by 9 a.m.

Transit officials warned that the evening commute would experience major effects after the parade. Keolis said passengers should "expect lines at major stations" and, if possible, plan to take trains after 4 p.m.

North Station, which saw lines stretching for blocks down the street after the parade celebrating the Boston Red Sox victory in the World Series last fall, will divide crowds Tuesday afternoon based on destination.

Passengers boarding the Lowell and Fitchburg lines will be led to the left side of the building while those boarding the Newbury, Rockport and Haverhill lines will enter through the front.

In 2011, the parade to celebrate the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup was held on a Saturday.

With additional reporting from WBUR 



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