8 Tips for Riding the MBTA with Kids

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Riding the MBTA.

As a daily commuter, the MBTA can be unpredictable and crowded. As a parent in non-rush hours, the MBTA with kids is the most affordable way to get around Boston — and it’s a cheap form of entertainment for the little ones. (I’ve actually gotten on the MBTA for one stop, literally three blocks to the supermarket, just because my daughter loves to ride the “choo choo train.”)

If you aren’t an MBTA regular but want to give it a go for your next downtown Boston adventure, have no fear! We’ve got you covered with these rail and bus riding tips.

General

  • You just need one ticket. Children 11 and younger ride free with a paying adult.
  • Be sure to get your kids a seat — MBTA trains and buses can be jerky and make frequent stops. If the bus or train is packed, try this great trick. Teach your children to ask, “Will anyone let me have their seat?” When it is an adorable kid asking, I’ve yet to see it fail.
  • Don’t stress about having enough time to get from your seat to the exit. There is plenty of time. I repeat, there is plenty of time. The doors start to make a beeping noise before they close. If you are worried the doors are about to close, ask someone near the door to hold it open for you. It’s no biggie. It happens all the time.
  • Keep any loud toys on mute. Nothing is going to get you the “rider death stare” quicker than obnoxiously loud toys.

Traveling with strollers

  • Be sure to check that the stations on your destination list have elevators. Most do, but a few key downtown stations, like Boylston and Hynes Convention Center, don’t. The good thing is stops are pretty close together downtown, so going one additional stop and walking is doable.
  • On above-ground trolleys, like the green line, when two cars are combined, at least one has to be wheelchair accessible. You can tell by a sticker on the front of the train. You should pay your fare up front, and then stroll to the back door where there are no stairs and easy access for strollers.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help getting your stroller on and off the train. Having done many rides alone with a stroller, I’ve had to rely on the kindness of strangers. Note: Strangers in Boston can be kind; you just have to prompt them.
  • MBTA buses have narrow aisles. Plan to board with your stroller in the back. That way you don’t have to go down the aisle, and there is some extra room by the back door for strollers.

Do you have other tips? Share them in the comments below. Happy travels!