Subway, Train, and Trolley Travel


Subway, Train, and Trolley Travel

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)—or T when referring to the subway line—operates subways, elevated trains, and trolleys along five connecting lines (as well as commuter rail lines and myriad bus lines that reach other areas of the city and surrounding areas). Trains operate from about 5:30 am to about 12:30 am. A 24-hour hotline and the MBTA website offer specific information on routes, schedules, fares, wheelchair access, and other matters. Free maps are available at the MBTA's Park Street Station information stand, open daily from 7 am to 10 pm. They're also available online at, which also has a useful trip planner tool.

Getting Around on the Subway

"Inbound" trains head into the city center and "outbound" trains head away from Downtown. If you get on the Red Line at South Station, the train heading toward Cambridge is inbound. But once you pass the Park Street station, the train becomes an outbound train. The best way to figure out which way to go is to know the last stop on the train, which is usually listed on the front of the train. So from Downtown the Red Line to Cambridge would be the Alewife train and the Green Line to Fenway would be the Boston College or Cleveland Circle train. Each station has a large, useful map posted on the wall that shows the routes that serve that station (with each stop marked).

The Red Line originates at Braintree and Mattapan to the south; the routes join near South Boston and continue to Alewife, the northern portion of Cambridge (near the border with suburban Arlington). The Green Line operates elevated trolleys that dip underground in the city center. The line originates at Cambridge's Lechmere, heads south, and divides into four routes that end at Boston College (Commonwealth Avenue), Cleveland Circle (Beacon Street, in Brighton), Riverside (in Newton), and Heath Street (Huntington Avenue). Buses connect Heath Street to the old Arborway terminus.

The Blue Line runs weekdays from Bowdoin Square and weeknights and weekends from Government Center to the Wonderland Racetrack in Revere, north of Boston. The Orange Line runs from Oak Grove in north suburban Malden to Forest Hills near the Arnold Arboretum. The Silver Line (a bus line with its own lane) consists of four transit lines. SL1 connects South Station to Logan Airport; SL2 runs between South Station and the Design Center; SL4 connects Dudley Square and South Station, and SL5 runs between Downtown Crossing and Dudley Square, also stopping in Boylston (SL4 and SL5 are actually officially part of the bus system, so the fare on these lines is only $1.50). Park Street Station (on the Common) and State Street are the major downtown transfer points.

Fares and Passes

T fares are $2 for adults paying in cash or $1.70 with a prepurchased CharlieCard. There are CharlieCard dispensing machines at almost every subway stop. Children under age 11 ride free and senior citizens pay 60¢. Fares on the commuter rail—the Purple Line—vary widely; check with the MBTA.

One-day ($9) and seven-day ($15) passes are available for unlimited travel on subways, city buses, and inner-harbor ferries. Buy passes at any full-service MBTA stations. Passes are also sold at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center and at some hotels.


MBTA (800/392–6100; 617/222–3200; 617/222–5146 TTY.

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