Understaffed Lot Creates Red Sox Transitjam

Stuck in Newton on the way to the ballpark

Stuck in Newton on the way to the ballpark

In a minature version of the Easter 2009 turnpike toll fiasco, insufficient staffing at the Riverside Green line terminal in Newton at noon on Sunday jammed traffic all the way back onto I-95/Route 128.  Red Sox faithful arrived at the station early for the 1:35pm afternoon start … and most still needed all of the time and patience they could muster.

Riverside Lot

Near Capacity Lot a Surprise for a Sunday

Turnout was strong for the short trolley ride to the stadium.  With the reduction in trolley fares inbound from the station a few years ago (from $3 per person to $1.70), families west of Boston seem to know a good deal when they see one.

Too bad the T and its contractor, Central Parking, didn’t get it right today, and they left T patrons idling in traffic for probably forty-five minutes each — right outside of the station.

Traffic backed up to highway overpass

Traffic backed up to highway overpass

The problem: Riverside station has staffed booths at the entrance to the parking lot, and in their wisdom, Central Parking and the T sent just one attendant to staff the collection booth for the entire thousand-space lot.  For occasional parkers, like weekend Red Sox fans, paying for parking is not a speedy proposition.  So the influx of fans piled up at the booth near the back of the station.  And then the line backed up through the station (blocking bus access). And then the line jammed up the local street outside.  And then it jammed up the Route 95/128 overpass, going so far as to stop traffic, bumper to bumper on the Route 95/128 off-ramp.

Transit-jam on highway off-ramp

Transit-jam on highway off-ramp

I doubt many of those fans are feeling very smart now about their decision to ride the T.  A half-hour trip to the Sunday game turned into a two-hour nightmare.  It’s unfortunate that the T and Central Parking can’t figure out a way to collect weekend parking fees in an effective way.

Riverside Station entrance

Riverside Station entrance

When the Turnpike inexplicably jammed patrons earlier this year by understaffing collection booths, the head of the organization promptly resigned.  Although this jam was no less inexcusable, don’t expect the same thing from the T.  In some ways it seems to set the bar lower.  But at Central Parking on the other hand … there may be some anxious days ahead.

(eds. note: Red Sox game coincided with final day of the Tall Ships Festival)