MBTA commute problems in BostonMy children’s daycare was 26 miles away from my office. To get there before 6 p.m. pickup, I had to leave my office in Boston by 3:30 p.m.

Think about the absurdity of that statement. I wasn’t traveling dirt backroads in the country — I was driving highways nearly the entire way.

Then take public transportation, you say. Sure. I still had to leave my office by 3:30 p.m. and hope either the subway or commuter rail didn’t break down or get held up along the way — something that happened more often than not.

Commuting in and around Boston continues to be difficult for a good portion of commuters, and the challenges impact everyone in a variety of ways. For working parents, it’s become an anxiety-producing practice. The frustration has taken a toll on every commuter — parent or non-parent, T rider or driver — and for parents, it impacts career, finances, and childcare.

Boston has one of the worst commutes in America and a fumbling public transportation system. It’s forcing parents to face the following questions:

Where should I live?

Salaries and housing costs are forcing people to live way outside of Boston in order to buy a condo or house. But it’s also forcing them to work inside Boston to be able to afford any type of homeownership. When I worked in Boston, I could not afford to live in Boston or its surrounding communities. I have had to move north twice — first to Salem, and then, when priced out of Salem, I had to move near the New Hampshire border.

Where should daycare be — near work or near home?

If your commute to get your children takes you out of the office earlier than preferred, you may want to place your children in a daycare closer to your workplace. But what if you can’t afford a daycare closer to work? Or what if there isn’t a daycare or there aren’t any spots left? And what if being stuck in traffic jams with your toddlers at dinner time is going to fray all your nerves?

Since I worked in Boston but my husband works in the suburbs, we placed our children at a daycare in the suburb where he works when they were young. We split dropoffs and pickups depending on our schedules for the day. Yes, it gave me heartburn on pickup days when I was stuck on Storrow Drive for an hour and we were inching toward Route 1 at the pace of three miles an hour and 6 p.m. was quickly approaching. But it’s what we had to do.

Is there any way to do remote work?

Even with the COVID pandemic switching many positions from in-person to either fully remote or hybrid, my job required me to physically be in the office most of the time. I worked with college students, and although it may seem like they live in a world of online-only interaction, I did have to see them in person.

Though we like to think Zoom, Slack, and cloud-based file-sharing will save us all from ever needing to commute to work again, there will always be industries where you have to physically be at your job. Education, hospitality, medical, food service — these are all huge fields where working remotely is not often an option.

But for many others, remote work has become the norm since 2020, and many parents have used that to their advantage to circumvent Boston’s commute woes.

Do you need to change careers or stop working for a bit?

I’m part of a Facebook group for moms on the North Shore. Every few months, a pregnant or new mom asks how to manage commuting into Boston and parenting. An increasing amount of moms are answering, “I couldn’t.”

Those two words are either followed by, “I changed industries and now work closer to home,” “I took a pay cut to work closer to home,” or “I’ve stopped working for now, and we’re trying to make ends meet.”

In late 2020, I became one of those moms answering those Facebook posts with “I couldn’t manage the commute and had to change industries.” I left the field I had earned a graduate degree in to instead become an administrative assistant at a high school. The hours were better, and so was the commute: Instead of hours in traffic or on the T, I have a 14-minute car ride. The breaking point was my youngest son receiving a life-changing diagnosis — there was no way I could balance commuting into Boston and my son’s needs.

If you can’t afford a nanny and you don’t have family around, working in downtown Boston as a parent is really hard to do. It’s not impossible, but it is draining. Most of us aren’t financially able to bow out of the workforce completely, so we have to make it work in some way.

When I worked in Boston, I reached a breaking point every few days when my train was late — again — and I knew I wouldn’t get home until after 7 p.m. — again — and my youngest and last baby had reached some milestone that daycare got to see first — again. And I either got angry or started crying in the middle of North Station — or both. It was rough.

That’s why advocating for traffic management solutions and/or better public transportation infrastructure is important. It’s not just keeping people from the dinner table, it’s keeping parents from seeing baseball games or their kid’s first steps. It’s keeping parents from coaching teams and participating in PTA. If we find a way to fix our transportation woes, we will gain so much in our own homes and our greater communities.


Kat Cornetta
Kat grew up in Rochester, NY, and attended college in Ithaca and Binghamton, NY. She moved to Boston to earn a graduate degree in educational administration. In addition to her career in education, Kat has a part-time freelance sportswriting career covering women’s college hockey, gymnastics, and figure skating. She contributed to the Boston Herald for a decade before moving over to the Boston Globe, where she wrote their first-ever weekly women’s college hockey notebook. Her long-term career goal is to write a book. An Ipswich resident, Kat is a mother to two sons (born in 2016 and 2018) and owns a cat named after legendary Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy. After having her sons in 2016 and 2018, Kat is attempting to balance a full-time job in education with her writing dream and motherhood. She loves coffee, cats and 1990s NFL quarterbacks. She dislikes chewing gum, high shelves and baby pajamas that snap instead of zipper. You can read her work at sportsgirlkat.com


  1. Yes to all of this – but We also need for companies to step up and meet needs of working mothers – we are a talented bunch and imagine how much talent a company could keep if they just make some changes that benefited working mothers.

  2. the answer becomes moving. as shitty as that sounds, thats really the only option.
    you arent going to change shit overnight. by the time its any impact you will be 80 years old

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