Boston has a long tradition as a city. So does the public transportation system which changed significantly over the years. As one of few cities in the US, Boston still has streetcars. However, the subway and bus lines are more important for transportation in the city center. Other means of transport include light railway commuter trains and ferry connections.
Not only buses, trams and the subway are important in Boston. With more than 130.000 daily passengers, the MBTA Commuter Rail is one of the most important commuter networks in North America. There are several different lines that depart and end either at Boston North Station or at Boston South Station. Commuter railway connects Boston with its suburbs as well as other cities in Massachusetts and Northern Rhode Island. At Boston South and Boston North Station, passengers may interchange to the subway and bus network or long distance services.
It is controversial whether Boston got three of four subway lines. As the Green Line officially is a tram, we’ll focus on three in this part of the article. The Red Line from Alewife in the north got two arms in the south of Boston. Trains either go in the direction of Mattapan or Braintree. The Orange Line is also going from the north (Oak Grove) to the south (Forest Hills) while the Blue Line connects central Boston with the north-eastern parts of the city with the direction of Wonderland.
Transfer is possible at Park Street (Green Streetcar & Red Line), Downtown Crossing (Orange & Red Line), State Street (Orange & Blue Line), Government Center (Green Streetcar & Blue Line) and North Station (Green Streetcar & Orange Line). In general, taking the subway is quite convenient, even though there are several different cars.
Subway lines in Boston:
Having a long history with streetcars, Boston has one line till today. The Green Line is often mentioned as a subway line. However, it is mainly operating above ground and is not comparable to normal subway trains.
It is connecting Lechmere, Government Center and North Station with Boston College, Cleveland Circle, Riverside and Heath (four different arms). The stops in the city center are all underground, while those on the four arms are above the ground. Even though it is different, the Green Line is mostly known as “T” and so are the three subway lines. The pricing system of the Green Line is also the same.
Streetcar lines in Boston:
In addition to the subway and streetcar lines, Boston also has an extensive bus network. There are 150 bus lines in total. Several are operating in the city center, especially connecting districts that don’t have subway or streetcar stations with the city center. Buses are also operating as amplifier lines of the subway.
The ticket system of buses is different of the one of the subway and streetcars. Even though all use the Charlie Card, there are mentionable price differences. Subway and streetcar tickets are slightly more expensive than bus tickets. Be aware that single tickets that are bought without holding a Charlie Card come with an additional fee.
Boston is known for being one of the most expensive cities when it comes to taxis. With a base rate of 2.60 US-Dollar (~ 2.30 Euro) for the first 1/7 mile and a fare of 0.40 US-Dollar (~ 0.35 Euro) for further 1/7 miles, rides can get extremely expensive quite fast. Rides to Boston Logan Airport and North Shore Communities come with an extra charge of 2.75 US-Dollar (~ 2.40 Euro).
With these high prices, it’s rarely surprising that Uber is having a large market share in Boston and may be a good alternative when you are looking for a better value for the money. However, taxis in Boston are generally very safe and the rides are mostly very convenient.
As Boston is located right on the sea with several little islands in the Bay Area, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Area does also offer ferry services. These are available to Pemberton Point on Hull, Hewitt’s Cove on Hingham as well as to Lynn and Salem (both seasonal).
Travelling with the ferry is also possible in the harbor area as there are several stops including Charlestown Navy Yard, Logan Airport Boat Deck, Long Wharf North, Aquarium and Rowes Wharf. Tickets for the ferries are quite expensive, but may be a very special experience.