For many of the hundreds of thousands of people riding the rails to the Red Sox rally, the morning began with the typical headaches of a rush hour commute — crowded subway cars, some of them warm and stuffy because of the amount of humanity packed inside.
One man on an early inbound train from Braintree, decked out in Red Sox gear and stuck in the middle of a pack of equally avid fans, turned glumly to his wife.
“I heard the ferry was more spacious,” he muttered.
But irritation at the early morning crush on subway trains morphed into high spirits as fans emerged at train stations in downtown Boston, whooping and chanting, “Let’s Go, Red Sox!,” “The boys are back!,” and “We got the cup!” as they climbed the stairs out of stations en masse.
On the commuter rail train from Salem, 25-year-old Molly Herman closed her eyes and rested her head on a red-cushioned seat. As she waited to board at 7:20 a.m., two trains had passed her without stopping because they were so crowded, she said. Finally, just after 8 a.m., she landed a seat.
“I knew we’d get here, eventually,” Herman said upon arriving at North Station. “We go to all the Boston parades. For the Bruins, the Celtics. I would never drive.”
At South Station, commuter rail employees armed with megaphones requested — or perhaps more accurately, pleaded — with passengers disembarking from trains to purchase return tickets before setting off to the parade, explaining that lines would be unbearably long after the rolling rally concluded.
Steve Jones, director of transportation and customer service for the commuter rail, said that overall problems Saturday morning were minimal, though a few trains arrived at their destinations late, and some stragglers coming from the North Shore were not able to nab a spot on the last train.
He said Wilmington was among the busiest stops. Hundreds of fans jammed the platform there and many had to watch a train roll by without stopping. “What can you do? When you’re full, you’re full,” Jones said shortly after 10:30 am.
Even with the throngs clamoring to get on the trains, Jones estimated that crowds were smaller than they were for the 2011 Boston Bruins parade.
“This is not a Boston Bruins crowd. It’s lighter. We haven’t seen the volume that we saw with the Bruins,” Jones said.
Officials had predicted close to a million people would use public transit to get into the city. City officials had suggested that people not use their cars because of road closures and parking restrictions.