Charlie Has a Lot of Company

Whenever we pass a gas station, we’re always grateful that we don’t rely on a car to get to work. As the price of fuel increases daily, it makes the unreliability of the MBTA seem like less a bargain.

1214234535Many automobile commuters agree; ridership on the T has been climbing for months. Today, the agency will celebrate by unveiling the first-ever wrapped commuter rail car as part of an ad campaign that encourages taking the train over filling the tank.

We just hope the MBTA can accommodate the new customers.

According to the T, ridership is up 6.2 percent since January. But General Manager Dan Grabauskas wants more.

“[W]e hope to capture a brand new audience unaware of the cost savings available by taking the T. We are urging people seeking alternatives to the high costs at the pump to pick up a CharlieCard[.]”

Listen, we love polar bears as much as anybody with a soul. But anecdotal evidence shows that the system is already straining. One commuter rail regular at Boston Daily HQ says one conductor believes he’s already seeing an additional 10 to 15 people a day on the train, and he’s not sure if they’ll have room for everyone if it keeps up.

And then there’s this report from last week’s Celtics Rolling Rally. A reporter from the Providence Journal caught the madness of several hundred commuters from south of the city trying to catch the train back home. That was an unusually busy day, but if enough riders get stuck in Boston for an extra hour or so because the trains are full, they might head back to their cars.

It seems that the days of the single commuter riding into the city in a gas-swilling SUV are over. But let’s hope the MBTA is developing a plan to handle all the Charlie Card-toting newbies.