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Navigating the public transportation system in Boston

Navigating the public transportation system in Boston

Jul 16th, 2003, 01:19 PM
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Navigating the public transportation system in Boston

I am considering traveling to Boston with my family, children ages 22 and 18, in August. We have never been out East and they really want to go see Boston, but I am hesitant about trying to figure out the transportation system. I am thinking of staying in Andover, is is difficult to find my way in and out of boston without it being a major headache?
NJB is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 01:48 PM
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You can catch a commuter train (the MBTA Haverhill Line) from Andover to North Station/Fleet Center. A number of sites are walkable from there, including the Museum of Science, Quincy Market, Old Ironsides, Freedom Trail. Also nearby (just outside the station) are Green and Orange Lines. Subway lines are $1. while you're within Boston itself, but can cost more if you head further south or east of town. The commuter train does not run as frequent as local subway either, but may fit your needs. www.mbta.com is the website.

Recently posted here were suggestions for someone else who wanted to drive closer to a "regular" "T", or subway station, rather than use the commuter train ... try

Subway is convenient, but Boston is an easily walkable city as well.
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 02:06 PM
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Why Andover? You are pretty far out of Boston; by commuter line, maybe an hour away. Once you get to Boston, the T is convenient and relatively easy to get around. See MBTA.com for all you need to know about public transportation.
Jackie is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 02:40 PM
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Frankly , yes it will be a major headache to stay in Andover and see Boston. As others haev pointed out, you'll have to either drive into the city or rely on the commuter trains, which don't run as often as the regular subway lines, and the commute will eat up a lot of your time and energy.

The subway system is very easy to figure out. The web site (as has already been pointed out, www.mbta.com) even has a trip finder feature now.

Boston is a very compact city. If you have never been "out east" you might be surprised to see how quickly a city turns into countryside. Boston itself covers less than 50 square miles. Andover, being 25 miles away, is in the far suburban reaches. You will have a far better Boston experience if you stay right in the city. You'll be able to walk to many places and take the T to others.
Anonymous is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 03:28 PM
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I will agree with the others and try to persuade you to stay in the city, at least for part of your trip. You wouldn't need a car for Boston, and if you wish to explore other parts of NE for which you would need a car, you can always rent one after or before you've done your Boston exploring. I grew up just north of Boston, and we used to take the commuter train in from Lowell when I was a kid. Now I figure if country kids not even old enough to drive could figure out Boston transportation, it will be a piece of pie to you! Have no worries about it!
Jul 16th, 2003, 03:46 PM
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dln wrote "if country kids not even old enough to drive could figure out Boston transportation, ..."

A little off subject, but I remember years ago a TV program called "James at 15" (renamed "..at 16" etc. as seasons passed) and coming from a small upstate NY town was amazed that this "kid" moved all around a large city all on his own.

rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 04:18 PM
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When my daughter started seventh grade at a Boston public school, the kids got subway passes to get there from home -- no school buses for them! And those kids were mostly 12 years old.

Many had never ridden the subway or buses alone before, but with help from older kids on their routes, they quickly mastered the system and learned to get all over the city.
Anonymous is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 06:53 PM
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Thanks everyone for all the useful advice. I was thinking of staying in Andover only because the hotel there was less expensive than the ones in Boston. Can anyone suggest any hotels in Boston that are nice but reasonably priced? thanks.
NJB is offline  
Jul 16th, 2003, 07:18 PM
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Assuming you plan to book two rooms for four adults, best bet is Priceline, then Hotwire, then all the others. Once in a while, though, there are better deals at www.ciyres.com

Agree with the others..."commuting" is not the best way to visit Boston.

Check the Midtown first.
djkbooks is offline  
Jul 17th, 2003, 05:08 AM
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just a tip from a seasoned bostonite...

i've seen many a tourist jump the red line to the green line to the orange line, only to end up two blocks from where they started.

you can walk the entire city in an hour. it's not a huge place. get a good walking map and you can really get anywhere on foot.

check out medford, ma hotels- there's an amerisuites that's new and is reasonable, and you can get a cab or bus to the T. that might save you $$ over a city hotel, and it's only 10 minutes from the heart of boston. they may also have a shuttle service to the T.

have fun!
fiasco is offline  
Jul 17th, 2003, 06:10 AM
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I'm a wimp about Priceline because I don't entirely trust the locations, but you could well get a 4-star place in town for what you're paying in Andover.

Otherwise, check out Alewife area chains and the Holiday Inn Newton (Grove St. -- on the interstate but also at the end of the Riverside Green line -- 45 min. into town). Places out on Mass. Ave. may be very good, but don't get sucked into Morrissey Blvd. places -- will be inconvenient.

There are a couple of tried-and-true inexpensive places in Boston, and I'd try a search here -- a Howard Johnson's, I believe, and my own favorite, the John Jeffries, which could NOT be more convenient to everything. Each room has a kitchenette, although the bedding situation can be quirky (sofa bed or around-the-corner twins).

But don't stay in Andover -- you'll end up avoiding the trek in and out of town, esp. if you want to stay late for dinner. Nothing wrong with seeing the North Shore (Marblehead, Rockport, Gloucester) or the western suburb sights (Walden, DeCordova, Lexington/Concord, Wayside Inn) by car, but if it's Boston you want (and you should), stay in town.

The "T" is really really easy to figure out. There's even a boardgame based on it (and similar other games based on other subway systems) if you want to "practice." But definitely try to find a map with stations noted on it because "Fiasco" is absolutely right, sometimes 2 stations are only 2-3 blocks apart.
Jul 17th, 2003, 08:32 AM
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Sorry, that's www.cityres.com
djkbooks is offline  
Jul 17th, 2003, 09:45 AM
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There's a new hotel on Mass Ave near my house called Hawthorn Suites (I think).
It's just over the border from Cambridge into Arlington.
Some friends used it to house relatives during their wedding, but I really don't know how the prices compare. You might want to check and see if it seems affordable by your standards. They might have free parking in their outdoor lot (very safe neighborhood), and it's easy on/off Route 2 if you're driving to get here.

It's about a 10-minute walk to Alewife Station on the Red Line subway, and there are 2 bus routes that stop across the street that will take you to Alewife, and also another route that will take you the short ride to Porter Square & Harvard Square (also on the Red Line). All the buses run very frequently on weekdays & Saturdays, up to every 7 minutes.

While the location isn't very central to the sights you're probably coming to see (Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, etc), as fiasco said: the Boston metro area isn't that big, and Cambridge is a short subway ride from downtown where you'll probably be heading every day.

And the CVS a few feet away from the hotel stocks yellow Arrow maps - get the Metro Boston TRANSIT Map - it's a map of the city with the subway & bus system overlaid. Very handy no matter where you end up staying.


m, Cambridge
motorgirl is offline  
Jul 17th, 2003, 10:52 AM
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To reiterate what others have said, do NOT stay in Andover. That is absolutely not the way to see Boston.

Depending upon when in August you plan to visit the city (early to mid-Aug is best) you should be able to get a reasonably priced hotel (or "reasonable" by Boston terms) thru Hotwire.com or Priceline. An invaluable site for information on how to bid using Priceline is the 'BiddingForTravel' website (www.biddingfortravel.com). Or if you're not comfortable using sites that don't tell you the name of the hotel before you buy, then can find decent rates thru www.hotel.com. For example I just looked up Boston hotels during early August (Aug-8th thru 15th) and you can get rooms at the 4-star Omni Parker for $129 a nite. If that's still above your range, they also listed several 3-star accommadations, centrally located and for less expensive prices.
JBX is offline  
Jul 17th, 2003, 10:58 AM
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CORRECTION > website is www.hotels.com (with an "s").

Also another area to consider is staying in Cambridge (across the river from Boston); for example, http://www.hotelatmit.com
-- the hotel at MIT is close to MBTA, Central Sq. on the redline.

Also, reason why I say to avoid Boston during the end of August as that is the time when many college kids are returning to school and streets/hotels get busy.
JBX is offline  
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