The Commonwealth Blog
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (better known as the T) is one of the most affordable and easiest ways to get around the greater Boston area. Whether you’re planning to move to a suburb like Somerville or the center of Boston, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the subway trains, buses, and commuter rails that make up the T.
Where Can You Go?
The T can get you pretty much anywhere in Boston, as well as some parts of Somerville, Cambridge, Newton, Milton, Revere, Malden, Brookline, and Quincy. And if you’re moving farther from Boston and planning to commute into the city, you may still be able to benefit from the T: the commuter rail (which operates out of South Station and North Station) goes all the way to Fitchburg, Newburyport, and North Kingstown (in Rhode Island). If the commuter rail or subway doesn’t get you exactly where you need to go, you can also take a bus. MBTA bus routes run throughout the city, and buses operate on a high frequency along the most popular routes.
You can view a map of the entire T system on the official MBTA site.
When Does the T Operate?
Exact start times vary by line, but the first trip of the day is around 5 am. Depending on the line and the station, the last trip of the day will be between 12 am and 1 am. That means that if you’re planning on enjoying Boston’s nightlife, you’ll either need to leave before bar close to catch the T or arrange another mode of transportation.
You can view the schedule and frequency for the T’s rapid transit line here.
How Do You Pay?
You can pay your fare using a CharlieTicket (a printed paper ticket) or a CharlieCard (a durable, wallet-sized card). If you’re planning on using the T regularly, it’s worth getting a CharlieCard. You can load up to $100 on the card or purchase a LinkPass and load that onto the card. The LinkPass lets you pay for unlimited one-day, seven-day, or monthly trips.
You can buy a CharlieCard from the CharlieCard store at the Downtown Crossing station or one of the fare vending machines at any of the other underground stations. Once you get a card, you can use it to take the subway, light rail, local bus, or express bus. You can’t use it on the commuter rail, water taxi, or private carrier services unless this is specified on the card.
What Else Is Worth Knowing?
There are four main color-coded rapid transit lines on the T: red, orange, blue, and green. There’s also a silver line. Buses operate on the Silver Line and are underground for part of the route, so the MBTA classifies them as part of the subway system (confusing, we know). The Green Line and Red Line both have multiple branches, so before hopping on a Green or Red Line train, make sure you’re on the correct platform and check the destination listed on the front of the first car.
You can take a bike on most of the lines during non-peak hours (you’ll need to check the MBTA site to determine peak hours). However, bikes are never allowed on the Mattapan Trolley or the Green Line, unless they’re foldable. Foldable bikes are allowed on all lines at all times, as long as they’re folded before boarding.
If you have more questions about the T and the best ways to get around once you buy a new home, talk to your CENTURY 21 Commonwealth Realtor. We know the Boston area well and are happy to offer our advice.