Leave early to make it to Red Sox rally, MBTA says

Region’s transit system is expecting massive crowds of riding revelers

With close to 1 million riders expected to take the MBTA to the Red Sox Rolling Rally on Saturday, transportation officials urged revelers, especially those dependent on the commuter rail, to get a spot on an early train.

Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey put it bluntly: “If you wait until the last minute,” he said at a Friday press conference, “you are unlikely to get on.”

As the city basks in the glow of a World Series win, transportation officials and police readied the rails and the roads for the parade festivities, planned an abbreviated route for the duck boats traversing the Charles River, and coordinated a tribute to occur along the parade route at the Boston Marathon finish line.


Red Sox spokesman Kevin Gregg said the parade would stop for the tribute at the site of the April Boston Marathon bombings on Boylston Street, but he had no details on the ceremony.

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The MBTA will run rush-hour-level service throughout Saturday to accommodate the hundreds of thousands expected to throng the city for the World Series parade, transportation officials said at the press conference.

T officials expect there will be 2 million rides taken Saturday, compared with 1.35 million on an average weekday. Commuter rail trains will begin departing early in the morning, though trains on lines that do not operate on Saturdays — the Greenbush, Kingston, Needham, Fairmount, and Stoughton lines — will remain shut down.

Commuter boat service will also operate between Hewitt’s Cove in Hingham and Long Wharf from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File 2004
Parade planners have altered the parade route slightly. Duck boats will spend less time in the water than during previous championship parades.

Officials stressed that public transportation users, especially those planning on riding the commuter rail, need to take an early train to get downtown for the parade, which begins at 10 a.m.


“For the commuter rail, it’s in your best interest, based on what we’ve seen historically at these types of events, to get into the city early,” said Sean M. McCarthy, chief operating officer of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey cited the 2011 Boston Bruins Stanley Cup parade, when the Rolling Rally brought about 120,000 people into the city on commuter rail, but left many stranded at stations when trains were too full to take on more riders. Some would-be passengers watched from platforms as jam-packed trains passed them by, so they abandoned hope of reaching the parade and instead headed home.

Davey explained that it is relatively simple to run peak-hour subway service Saturday for a special event, but because of labor agreements and the complexities of an outside contractor, it is more difficult to add a significant number of extra trains on commuter rail lines. Customers must expect that later trains will be overcrowded, and some would-be riders may be turned away.

Scott Farmelant, spokesman for the commuter rail, said MBTA staff is “doing everything humanly possible to get folks to the parade safe and sound.”

“We are preparing to be overwhelmed,” Farmelant said.


During the 2011 parade, trains that finished their routes early were sent back out to make a sweep for passengers who could not be accommodated. Farmelant said he could not say whether that would happen again this year.

Davey urged people to buy round-trip tickets to avoid long lines and delays going home. and he recommended that those driving cars make arrangements to park outside the city center, where many roads will be closed.

MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan said bicycles will not be allowed on subway or commuter trains all day, and there will be an increased presence of officers and explosive-sniffing dogs. Even with the increased surveillance, however, there are no restrictions on bags being brought onto the T, and officials will not be using metal detectors to screen passengers.

“We need to move a lot of people in a short period of time,” MacMillan said.

Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linskey of the Boston police urged parade-goers to minimize what they carry. Backpacks are not banned, he said, but it would be helpful if they are left at home. Leaving a backpack unattended, even innocently, will draw the attention of law enforcement, he noted.

As duck boats take to the water from the Museum of Science Saturday morning, said Linskey, the ride on the Charles River should last about 30 minutes and will not go as far as the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, as parade floats have done in past rallies. The duck boats will travel under the Longfellow Bridge and move past celebrants on both the Boston and Cambridge sides of the river.

“It going to be a shortened route once we get inside the river,’’ Linskey said, “maybe a quarter of the distance we went the last time, 2004.’’

He said a security zone will be created on the river starting at 10 a.m. that will remain in effect until 2 p.m. Any violators — in the past people have swum or kayaked into the area — will be arrested, he said.

Duck boats will travel farther from the shore than in the past, Linskey said. He asked parade attendees not to throw baseballs or other objects toward the players, which has happened previously.

“We don’t need any of that,’’ he said. “We want our city to be able to showcase our great team and have a safe event and have everybody on dry land as soon as possible.’’

Martine Powers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.