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All Aboard The Redline!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bostonians make T Bashing a daily passion. I'm just a lowly tourist and I come from South Florida where there is no such thing as even semi reliable public transportation. Metrorail does not count and the city bus....forget it. So the T looks mighty good to me. Well ok there was that one sweaty incident on the Greenline. But for the most part, I like the T. There I've said it. The trains get you where you want to go relatively cheaply and quickly. I prefer the tokens to the Charlie Cards but it still beats having nothing at all and being trapped in a car. While you're waiting for the train, you can listen to the many street musicians. Some of them are pretty good.
- Hiking and Walking
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Don't bother driving in Boston
It's true, even the subway can be a little confusing, but it's nothing compared to the roads which are one ways, dead ends, under construction, or just insanely impossible to navigate.
Don't drive unless you want to be completely unnerved and aggitated.
If you are in the city stick to the trains. They go virtually everywhere and are frequent and safe (unless you are heading into some unsavory suburbs). The one major drawback is that trains stop running at 1AM- last trip is about 12:30 so expect to hail a cab (another feat in of itself).
If you want to hit touristy spots the trains will hit all of them, and probably be nearly as speedy if not faster, than a car.
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
If you are travelling with small children and plan on getting around by T (subway), bring a baby backpack and forget your stroller at home. The MBTA is famous for non accessible services, however it is a cheap and fairly nice way to travel around Boston/ Cambridge.
The "Tinkertown Trolley"
Boston's T system is the oldest subway system in the US. This being said, it really needs some updating.
The green line is nothing short giant pain. It once took me an hour to change to an E train at Arlington station. On my way home, it took me another 45 minutes for an E line train to arrive at symphony station. When the B,C,D, and E trains go above ground, the fun really begins. T drivers enjoy zooming past waiting patrons, usually when it is raining or below freezing out. The E and B lines are usually packed with college students, so there is some humour when the trains ding ding ding on by, as long as you are not the one waiting for it. Depending on the day of the week, green line trains will either shoot through thier tunnels at light speed, or will dink on through, stopping every two feet or so for some unknown reason. It is not uncommon for the train to be "re routed", or for people to be arbitrarily kicked off to wait for the next train.
The blue, orange, and red lines are much quicker than the green line when the trains decide to arrive.
The silver line is a great way to get to the airport, even though it is really a bus. The blue line will also connect you to the airport, but it often smells like urine.
The T stations themselves aren't bad at all, and some, like Kendall MIT are kind of fun. Boylston has lights now, which is nice, and Arlington and Copley are in the process of being refurbished.
Now that the price of a ride has been upped to $1.70 or $2 (depending on your ticket), the T will hopefully become a more efficient way to travel. As for now, I'll still add an extra half an hour into my commute time just in case.
- Historical Travel
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Given the constant construction, bumper to bumper traffic, and expensive parking, the T, Boston's subway, is the only way to go. Even at $1.70 a ride (as of January 2007), it is probably the most hassle free way to get into and around the city, not to mention the musical entertainment in the various stations.
In late 2006, the T system introduced new passes designed to simplify and speed up riding the T. It can be confusing, though: the hard plastic Charlie Card is not the same as the papery Charlie Ticket, even though both can be loaded up with dollars and re-used. The biggest difference between the two is on price: one subway trip with a Card will set you back $1.70, whereas the price is $2 if you are using a Ticket. Beware!
Visit the MBTA website for more information and maps - and for information about the monthly passes if you're staying a while.
The 'T': Boston's "Tube"
Boston's 'T' consists of buses & a tram system, which is similar to the London Underground. Boston's trams run underground in the city centre, but overground in the suburbs (like London Underground). It's run by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA).
It's a great, fast, efficient, reasonably-priced way to get from where cruise ship courtesy buses drop off (Government Center) to the Downtown Crossing (shops) & Boston Common (park) area. I walked this route, but once I reached Boston Common it was around 7pm & I needed a rapid way of getting back to the cruise ship's bus stop. A $1.25 subway (underground) trip from Boston Common to Government Centre was ideal.
The T's main difference from London Underground is the Boston system is, in places, more like a tram, as it has stops & lines on the streets outside of the city centre. London's 'tube' is a train service as it always runs along electric railway lines & not along the streets.
Buy a Pass
The T is one of the first subway systems in America. It is very easy to use and is color coded. It is a good investment to buy a visitor's pass.
You can get schedules at www.mbta.com or at major stations.
- Family Travel
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Take the T!
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA or just "T" for short) operates Bostons convenient but antiquated subway system. Though the MBTA operates the subway, city buses, commuter rail, and boats, when you hear someone say "the T" you should think only of the subway. Established 100 years ago, Boston's T is considered the oldest public transportation system in the country. Though old, it is easy to use as there are only 4 lines, each identified by a color: Red, Blue, Green, and Orange.
The Red line goes from the northwest suburbs at Alewife station to the South Shore at Braintree. The Blue line runs from central downtown along the north shore to Revere Beach and Wonderland. The Orange line runs from Oak Grove, north of the city, to Forest Hills, just south west of Boston. The Green line is perhaps the most confusing line--it begins at Lechmere, just north of downtown and as it heads west, it splits off to the B (Boston College Station), C (Cleveland Circle Station), D (Riverside Station), and E (Heath Station) lines. All 4 lines form a square in the downtown historic area, intersecting at Park, State, Downtown Crossing, and State Stations. Haymarket and North Station in downtown are the only two other stations where any of the lines intersect.
Most fares are $1.25 one way, but visitor's passes are available, starting at $7.50 for a one-day pass.
- Road Trip
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In Boston the subway is known as the train. It's an easy way of traveling around Boston. The entrance to the subway station can be identified by a black "T" on a white circular sign. Tokens can be bought at booths at each station. In some stations there are ticket machines available. A one-way ticket costs 1.25 USD.
More info can be found on the website mentioned below.
Not bad Subway
The T here is a pretty good subway system. You will find it very easy to use and will get you around as needed. If its not much past midnight. Sadly like so many other systems around the world it does not run late night.
One more reason New York is better than Boston.
The weirdest of the "T".....
Here's where the weird part starts: the farther you get from downtown the most probable it is that the metro will run right on the street, as if it was a tram. The "stations" become then a bench or two - very much like a bus stop - where you wait for the train to pass by. Now: when you're going inbound people make a line at the beginning of the track, and you must hop on the first car and pay your exact fee to the driver... this is not practic at all under my point of view, especially at rush hours when many people are waiting to get on the train. Sometimes - or so I was told - there are so many people waiting to get in the train that the driver just lets you ride it without paying for it, in order not to delay the train's departure more than necessary....... this is not that bad!
The best part is that when you're going outbound (towards the outskirts) from one of these stations you don't have to pay! The ride is for free... You must hop in the train at an "open air" station so this rule can apply. A good example is one of the green lines (there are 4-5 branches of it), which has a station right in front of the Museum of Fine Arts: this station is on the open air & has no booths to get in, so if you're going towards the outskirts of town you can take the metro there for free. Remember: if you go inbound, you ALWAYS have to pay no matter where you start your journey!
Speaking about the green line: as I said, it splits in several different lines. So you have to be careful when riding the train: make sure it holds the letter (D, E, etc.) of the line which will take you to your final destination (some or all of them pass by the same track!), otherwise you'll end up somewhere else!
It's somewhat complicate but once you get used to it I suppose it's just like riding any other metro...
- Study Abroad
A weird metro system...
Better known as the "T", this is the weirdest metro system I've ever known... I though Washington DC's subway system was strange, but this one is worse. First off, there aren't many lines, which is OK as the town is small anyway. Some of these lines are quite old though and it looks like they haven't been refurbished in many years. However, the subway in general is clean and safe, it has facilities for handicapped people in some stations (such as elevators -- which I confess to have used when carrying my heavy luggage back and forth from the airport), although the space in some of the stations isn't too big.
Now here's how it works: you buy a token - not a ticket - for USD 1.25 and this can take you anywhere around the city but only within a certain radius from downtown... if you go farther than those established limits - which were not very clear to me - you have to pay twice as much or even more (e.g. the Newton area, towards the south western part of Boston) whether you're going inbound or outbound: these are the terms to describe whether you're going from the outskirts towards downtown or viceversa. There are reduced fares and also monthly/weekly passes: please visit the MBTA website for further information.
Continues in the next tip...
- Study Abroad
The Green Line
The Green Line is really unique among US Subway lines. It's a mix of transit systems all rolled into one. It's a subway, light rail, street car, commuter line...depending on what part of the line you're on. There are 4 distinct branches on the Green Line: 'B', 'C', 'D' and 'E'. Through the downtown core all 4 branches use the same subway tunnel. Park Street Station is the Nation's oldest subway station, but I found Government Center to be the most interesting. The tracks curve through the station, and the platform is sort of V shaped. All 4 branches rumble through the station, sometimes they'll be 2 or 3 different branches on the same track in the station. A very interesting experience.
West of downtown, the branches head off in different directions. The 'B' line mostly follows Beacon Street, riding down the center of the street, with little cement slabs for station platforms. The 'C' line travels out Commonwealth Avenue. It too rides down the median for most of the way. Coolidge Corner is a good place to get off and look around. There is a neat train shelter there, and the neighborhood is very nice for exploring. JFK's boyhood home is a few blocks from the station.
The 'D' line is completely different. It follows the dedicated right of way of an old commuter line. It's the longest of the branches, and the most scenic. It travels through some forested areas, and some of the old railroad stations still exist. Newton Centre has one of the best of the old stations.
I didn't take the 'E' line, but I understand it runs like a streetcar down the middle of a street.
- Road Trip
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- Historical Travel
The only way to see Boston
The best way to get around Boston is by using the subway. I wouldn't even think about driving my own car; not so much for the alleged aggressiveness of the drivers, but to avoid the parking hassles and road closures.
The 'T' goes right to the doorstep of virtually everywhere you want to go, is very easy to understand, and, for a big city subway, is pretty clean. If you've ever ridden a subway anywhere, you'll have no problems.
Some stations in the old part of town are pretty run down and antiquated, and they can be pretty steamy in warm weather, but they're charming in their own way. I didn't, at any time, feel anything but totally safe.
Plan on riding the 'T' and don't give it a second thought.
The one-week pass for the Boston Metro system (metro plus busses) is pretty pricey and not worth it, but they do have a week-long metro-only pass that only costs something like $16.50. Ask the attendant.
Taking the "T"
I must say it's easier to figure out public tranportation when you more or less speak the language. I took the "T" in from the airport as it was cheap [$1.25 US] and I wanted to avoid the tunnels with the closures of the "Big Dig" ones -- more to avoid the traffic than anything. I had only a small shoulder bag for the two night stay so luggage wasn't an issue.
The only confusing part was finding the place where the shuttle bus would take you to the "T" itself. I had a long walk from the American gate to baggage claim and, not seeing a sign, asked at the well-placed info desk. It was right outside the door. The big round pillars are striped in blue in the bus area. Unfortunately the shuttle buses share the area with the rental car and hotel vans/buses. There are a number of shuttles so from Terminal A & B you want #22. After that it was easy-peasy. And the stops are clearly marked at the "T" for the return trip. Warning -- at the airport "T" station there are only machines to buy your tickets.
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