The MBTA Was Slammed for the Patriots Victory Parade

It'll be one for the record books, assuming you can get there.


Photo by C Hanchey on Flickr/Creative Commons

Unlike in 2017, when thousands of Pats fans bundled up and braved the bitter February snow to celebrate the Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl title, the celebration for their sixth win is happening on an unseasonably gorgeous, springlike day. The sun is shining, the mood is high, and an estimated one million people are expected to flood the streets of Boston—it’s going to be a hoot. On the MBTA, though, it was a mess.

To the surprise of probably no one, our much-maligned infrastructure is having trouble handling the surge of stoked fans. The commuter rail was hit by massive crowds, who ended up waiting for trains into the city that were already full to bursting when they arrived. The MBTA is running rush hour service all day to accommodate the influx of red-and-blue-clad riders headed for the Patriots’ victory parade in Boston, but it still wasn’t enough.

Delays reached as long as 40 minutes on the Kingston/Plymouth, Newburyport/Rockport, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Lowell, and Providence/Stoughton lines. On the Middleboro/Lakeville line, trains filled to capacity at the first stop. Riders reported packed trains bypassing station platforms and leaving fans—and commuters on the way to work—stranded.

In a statement, commuter rail operator Keolis said it looked like a record. “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 said. “Early estimates suggest ridership is much more than double a typical weekday.”

Making matters worse, some commuters had to endure an a capella “Sweet Caroline” on the way in.

A tragic fatality also slowed things down. At the Norwood station this morning, a man was hit by a commuter rail train and died, Norwood Chief of Police William Brooks tweeted. It isn’t clear yet what happened, but both directions on the Franklin line were delayed about 30 minutes.


Even so, the MBTA is doing their damnedest to keep people moving. The agency announced on a webpage specifically created for today’s parade that there will be extra trains and extra seats in service to help keep regular old commuters at least relatively on time. It warned commuters and fans alike to buy their round-trip tickets ahead and to expect delays all day. And with a Bruins game at the Garden tonight at 7, the MBTA has advised that it doesn’t expect the crowds to ease up.

It’s shaping up to be one for the books. Record high temperatures and record crowds are expected. The forecast calls for high-50s with partly cloudy skies during the parade, and according to the Boston Globe, the warmest Boston has ever been on February 5 was 65 degrees in 1991. There’s a slight chance that today’s parade will match or pass that record if the cloud cover breaks up.

Patriots wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman called for 2 million fans to come out to Boston’s latest rolling rally, just 97 days after the Red Sox cruised the same streets on their World Series victory parade.

Even if you aren’t lining the streets today, try to catch some fresh air while you can—temperatures will be back down to mid-20s by tomorrow morning and we might even see some freezing rain on Thursday. Soak it in while you can!