Baby’s First Subway Ride

Baby's First Subway RideWe don’t own a car and Arya had never ridden any vehicle other than her stroller before this weekend. So the train ride while taking baby to graduation was not only baby’s first subway ride, but her first ride on any moving vehicle.

My wife and I are used to walking from our Chinatown apartment to the Downtown Crossing Red Line station whenever we go north into Cambridge. We have made the five minute walk to the train platform hundreds of times while living in Boston. But we never had so much difficulty just getting to the train.

There are multiple entrances to the Downtown Crossing Red Line station. We are familiar with all of them and simply chose the closest one near the intersection of Macy’s and the old location for Filene’s Basement.

Unfortunately there is no visible signage for getting from street level to the Red Line platform with a stroller. The only marked elevator from the street leads to the Orange Line on a different level from the Red Line to Cambridge. After looking around for another elevator we finally asked a police officer for suggestions. He was gruff and not helpful.

My wife then decided that we should go into Macy’s and look for an elevator to the basement since she had previously exited the Red Line into Macy’s. She also said this with a hint of glee because it might mean that I would have to admit her shopping would actually be beneficial for once.

We walked through Macy’s on street level and found the elevator past the cosmetics and women’s accessories. Once we got to the basement level we walked past the (dangerous) baby section and eventually found a handicap-accessible ramp to the top subway entrance. We found the closest entrance to the Red Line to Alewife and paid our fares to walk through.

There are no elevators past the fare booths at the Downtown Crossing station entrance near Macy’s. Worse yet, there are no signs indicating the lack of handicap-accessible elevators. In fact, there are no signs for elevators anywhere in that entire portion of the station. There are stairs leading down from the Orange Line platform to the Red Line platform below, but no accessible elevators or ramps.

I had to ask a MBTA worker for directions to the elevator. He was nice and explained that we had to walk to the opposite end of the station to find the elevator. He led us out of the fare booths, used a Charlie ticket machine to print us two fare passes, and pointed us in the direction of the elevator. I’m not clear what we were supposed to do if there had not been a worker randomly walking around the station at that time.

We found the elevator (which smelled like decayed urine and stale cigarettes) and rode it down to the Red Line platform. Thirty minutes after what is normally a five minute journey, we finally got Arya and her stroller to the correct platform level.

Once we got on the subway, baby promptly fell asleep and Mommy and Daddy started to settle in for a relaxing twenty minute ride. Then we crossed the Charles River into Cambridge.

Baby's First Subway Ride - Unhappy AryaWhether it was the high-pitched screeching from train against the railing or the unfamiliar feeling of being in a moving vehicle, Arya started screaming. The other passengers in the half-empty train had given us polite smiles when we entered. Now I could feel their not-as-polite scent of irritation.

Both my wife and I talked to Arya, held her hand, rubbed her tummy, and tried to soothe her the rest of the trip. Our efforts worked a little between stops, but the screeching of the old brakes at every stop caused her to start screaming.

I’ve never realized just how loud the subway is. It must be even worse for a newborn baby hearing it for the first time.

The feeling of vertigo associated with the shaky movement of the train must also be hard for a baby. Arya likes rhythmic rocking when we are carrying her and she enjoys sleeping in her moving stroller, but she hated the lurching of the train.

The three of us couldn’t wait to exit the train once we got to the Davis Station. I’m sure the remaining subway passengers were happy to see us leave as well.

Baby hated her first subway ride. Her parents didn’t enjoy it much either. Given that we don’t own a car and travel around the city by foot or T, it looks like Arya will be pushed on some long walks for the foreseeable future.