Most everyone who goes to Red Sox games at Fenway Park has two recommendations on getting there: don’t drive, and take the “T”.
Driving to and parking at Fenway Park can be done (especially with the aid of a Fenway Park E-Guide), but it can be a struggle to find affordable parking close to the ballpark, and even if you do, getting out will take some time. In some places you’re at the mercy of someone who has parked you in, never a good thing. Unless you’re familiar with the area, you’re much better off using the “T”, as Bostonians refer to it.
The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) operates several subway lines across the city of Boston proper, and they are among the cleaner and more efficient of big city transit systems. There are four color-coded subway lines; Red (for the crimson colors of Harvard University where it originally ended), Blue (for the water on the nearby shoreline and Boston Harbor), and Orange (for Orange Street at the middle, now called Washington Street) all connect with the Green Line at some point, which in turn takes riders to the Kenmore Station, a short stroll over the Massachusetts Turnpike to Fenway Park. The Green Line is so named because it passes through the “Emerald Necklace” section of Boston.
The Green Line has four separate routes: B, C, D and E, all of which end at different stations. All but E stop at Kenmore; the E train veers off north of Kenmore but stops at the Prudential Center, which is about a ten block walk to the ballpark. The D route of the Green Line stops at a “Fenway” Station; this is not terribly far from the ballpark but is not the actual Fenway Park exit. This may be for the benefit of Yankees fans, to wear them out before the game.
You should use the T for no other reason than to share the whole Fenway experience. On game days the Green Line becomes packed with Red Sox fans heading to Fenway, and after games trains become similarly sardine-packed. But this is of no nevermind to Red Sox fans, many of whom were smart enough to stay slim in order to fit into those Grandstand seats. A member of Red Sox Nation has no problem sharing a small space with a fellow member in good standing. And if they don’t feel like being crammed into a train, they wait out the crowds at fine establishments like Cask-N-Flagon or Boston Beer Works.
If you’re looking for more spacious alternatives, you could use the E route on a nice day if you don’t mind the walk, which would keep you out of the standing room only crowd that only knows to not use the E. Or you could use the Orange Line and get off at the Back Bay Station–this is a few blocks east of the Prudential Center. That one’s a hike, but you can get a good look at a beautiful city along the way. There used to be a “Ruggles Shuttle” that took riders from the Ruggles Station on the Orange Line to Fenway, but that is no longer active as of this writing. You can still use a bus from there but you have to pay for it.
A ride on a T train is $2 as of this writing; it’s cheaper for seniors and students and free for children 11 and under riding with an adult. So a two-train ride to the park and back is $8 a person, plus whatever you may pay for a park-and-ride lot (somewhere around $7). Considering that some nearby places charge upwards of $30 for parking and the traffic you will encounter, Boston may be the one baseball city where public transportation is a better option than anywhere else, even more so than Chicago, Washington or New York.
The T is fast, efficient, and generally safe; yes, trains do get extremely crowded on game days, but remember, all of these people know Fenway is worth it.
Not many folks drive to Fenway Park. They just don’t. So remember, don’t drive and use the T.
Only rookies drive their car to Fenway Park, or anywhere in Boston, for that matter. Narrow streets and world-class congestion have combined to make a less than stellar public transportation system pretty popular in Beantown.
Public transportation certainly has its drawbacks, especially for those using it to get to a ballgame. I can tell you from the experience of nearly having my face pressed against a windshield for entire Green Line rides that trains coming to and leaving games at Fenway Park get mercilessly jammed with Red Sox fans. And far be it for me to suggest that Boston fans smell any worse than fans of any other teams (they don’t) but let’s face it, after a game on a muggy day there’s probably going to be someone kicking foul near you, and that can make for a long ride.
But I did find one way to ease some (although not all) of the hassles that go along with trying to enter or exit the Fenway Park area by car.
Boston Pedicabs is a clever local outfit that employs young, fit college students to pedal bicycles attached to rickshaws around the city of Boston. There are plenty of them available near Fenway, but the gentleman I e-mailed asking where best to find them (forgive me for temporarily losing the e-mail with his name) informed me that the parking lot at the Prudential center some blocks east of Fenway is a good spot. The Prudential lot is much cheaper than the lots closest to Fenway, and the Center is basically a mall with quite a few good pregame dining options.
The fellows riding the bicycles are friendly and will have a conversation with you as they’re pedaling you through murderous traffic to the park, and you can actually look around at the city rather than waiting for the driver in front of you to finally move.
Best of all, they’re free. But not really. The Pedicab drivers subsist entirely on tips, so don’t let me hear of anyone who reads this stiffing them.
Boston Pedicabs website: www.bostonpedicab.com
“Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you’re riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some ***** with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids.”
After those words, John Rocker will always be associated with the 7 train.
For those of you too young to remember, John Rocker was a star closer for the Atlanta Braves, who in 2000 gave an interview to Sports Illustrated that produced the unforgettable quote above. He immediately became Public Enemy #1 at Mets games, which, he claimed, proved his point about New Yorkers being degenerates.
Rocker may have been a certified nutcase in need of professional help–a real life Adam Sandler sort of character–but read some comments on the 7 train sometime and you’ll see he’s not the only one who feels that way. Even today he is sometimes quoted in diatribes about the Flushing Line. The 7 has been called the “International Express” for all of the different ethnic neighborhoods it passes through in Queens, and some don’t see that as a compliment.
One of the funniest jokes in the movie “Coming To America” is when Eddie Murphy declares that when he comes to America to find his bride, he will look for her in a place called “Queens”. Queens isn’t what people think about when the glamour of New York City is trumpeted. It’s full of low income folks of all nationalities. And yes, more crime than Manhattan.
I’ve ridden the 7 to a Mets game from Times Square. And truth be told, it isn’t the most pleasant of train rides. The trains are old and rickety and loud. Open seats are rare. Its riders do lack some of the social graces of Manhattan train riders (or, say, John Rocker). For miles every building is covered with graffiti, and it isn’t the elaborate kind where you at least respect the artistry of it.
But on the whole the 7 isn’t as bad as Rocker says. It’s simply a less affluent part of New York City, so not everyone is going to be wearing a suit or a pocket protector. And in truth, even a less comfortable train ride that drops you practically at the doorstep of Citi Field is still easier and cheaper than getting there and parking. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is loaded with traffic and is in less than ideal shape.
If you’re riding the express 7 train (marked by the purple diamond rather than the purple circle) out to Citi for the game, there will be plenty of Mets fans on the train, so normal wariness of your surroundings should be sufficient to stay safe. After Mets games, MTA runs “Mets Express” 7 trains back to Manhattan, so the ride is quicker, and these are also full of ballgame goers.
So don’t worry about taking the 7, at least no more than you would be concerned enough to make yourself aware of your surroundings. It gets you to the game, and that’s all you really need.