Let’s get one thing straight—“the T” is no Boston Tea Party—but don’t let this multicolored monster scare you away from exploring this great city by rail.
During your time at BU, the Green Line will probably be the line you use the most. With seven stops spread out along BU’s campus, you can easily get to and from class on those cold winter days or ride the train downtown for just $2.00 each way.
The Green Line can be tricky at first, but if you can remember that any train heading away from BU towards downtown is “inbound” and anything away from downtown is “outbound,” you will have a better chance of not getting turned around.
The 4 Branches of the Green Line
The Green Line consists of four lettered lines (B, C, D and E) which will take you through downtown and to surrounding suburbs. Most of you will use the B line (think BU, not Boston College, for which the line is named), which runs up and down Commonwealth Avenue.
The C or Cleveland Circle Line runs through South Campus; the D or Riverside Line goes through Brookline; and the E or Heath Street Line includes stops at Northeastern University and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Essential Green Line Stations
A hint for first time T users: there are only a few stations where you can switch from the Green Line to other lines. Making yourself familiar with these stations now will save you time and money later on.
This hub of the Hub is located downtown on the northeast corner of the Boston Common, and is the intersection of the Red and Green Lines. This means that the station is always busy, but from this point you can jump on the Red Line and reach Cambridge in mere minutes, or take the Orange Line and explore Chinatown.
Directly above the station lies the Freedom Trail (the red line painted on the ground), which takes you on a two-mile walk through some of Boston’s most historical sights. There are also dozens of shops and eateries around Park Street and nearby Newbury Street.
Located near the Financial District, South Station is the hub for all trains and buses, and many of the commuter rail lines. From Park Street, you can take the Red Line two stops to South Station then jump on the Silver Line to get to the airport without spending the big bucks on cab fare.
Renovated earlier this year, this station offers a great trick: Arlington is the only station on the downtown stretch of the Green Line where you don’t have to go above ground to change directions, and thus don’t have to pay twice.
Just get off the train going inbound, walk up stairs, cross the station, walk downstairs, and hop on an outbound train. This is especially convenient if you want to take a trip to the Prudential Center on the E line.
While not actually a train, the Silver Line runs like the T but looks more like a bus. It travels around downtown, but is most useful for trips to Logan Airport and even includes luggage racks for large suitcases.
This line is another easy way to get to the airport, and generally goes faster than the Silver line. To access it, take the Green Line to Government Center. The Blue Line can also take you to the New England Aquarium, Revere Beach and even goes underwater during part of the ride!
There are a number of different T passes you can purchase; including monthly, weekly and daily passes that are designed to best fit your personal travel needs.
Charlie Cards are the standard option for regular users, and can be loaded and reloaded with money as often as you like. The free cards are available at any underground T station, and you simply tap them at the fare box at the front of each train car on above-ground stops or at the entrance to underground stops.
When using a Charlie Card, the fare is only $1.70 versus $2.00 a ride if you pay with cash or a Charlie Ticket (another pay-as-you-go ticket option), and gets you free transfers to local buses.
Weekly passes cost $15.00, and one-day passes cost $9.00. Either option includes unlimited travel on the T, local buses, the commuter rail, and the inner-harbor ferry (if you’re feeling adventurous).
If the T doesn’t get you exactly where you want to go, any of the local bus lines probably will. Ticket prices are the same, since most passes include both the bus and the T, and run on a fairly consistent schedule. The bus stops frequently along much of BU’s campus, including parts of South and East Campus where the T doesn’t go.
For maps and additional information about stops and fares, check out the MBTA website. Especially helpful is the “Plan a Trip” function, which will give you the quickest way to use public transit between any two addresses you enter.