Around Boston

Boston's subway

Email|Print| Text size + By J. Amanda Ferry / May 20, 2003


Each train line is identified by a color, you'll need to figure out if you're going inbound or outbound, trains run both above and below ground, and each trip will cost you $1.25. Read on for more details.

How it's organized

Train lines are identified by a color (blue, green, orange, red) and then by the final stop on the line (e.g. Wonderland, Lechmere, or Alewife). The T employs a modified hub-and-spoke system—you need to get to a hub in order to switch to another line. You'll probably catch on after spending a few minutes with a map—and maps are on display at every station.


Most trains run about every 10-15 minutes—more frequently during rush hour. The Orange Line is the exception, running on a posted schedule.


The first trains start early in the morning (between 5 and 5:30 am) and last trains finish between midnight and 12:50, depending on the stop. Most stations have signs that indicate the time of the last train each night.

If you're out past 12:30 or so, plan either taking a taxi or The Night Owl Bus, which runs until 2:30 am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Inbound and outbound trains

An "inbound" train means one heading to one of the four intersection points (Park, State, Gov't Center, or Downtown Crossing). "Outbound" means one heading away from those intersections.

The Green Line

The Green Line offers newcomers a slight challenge, but simply double-checking the map and the train you board can eliminate much of the confusion. The Green Line splits twice: the E line branches off at Copley, and the other three (B, C, and D) fork at Kenmore. Check the front of the trains to be sure you're getting on the right train. Some trains run just to Kenmore (especially during Red Sox home games) and those are not E line trains.


Most fares on the T within the city are $1.25 per trip. You can purchase tokens at most T stations, but not at any of the stops that are above ground. The exceptions to the $1.25 fare are as follows:

  • Red Line:

    • Quincy Center, Quincy Adams and Braintree stations - $2.50 for entry.

    • Braintree and Quincy Adams stations - $1.00 for exit.

    • Local travel at Braintree and Quincy Adams stations - $1.25 and a warrant which is available at the boarding station collectors booth.

    • The Mattapan line - .90 cents, collected inbound only when exiting at stations prior to Ashmont.

  • Green Line:

    • Outbound trains are free if you get on at an above ground stop
    • Riverside "D" branch - $3.00 when boarding through Chestnut Hill Station and $1.50 when boarding from Reservoir through Fenway.

    • Newton local travel - $1.50 with a Newton local coupon available from the driver when exiting inbound from Woodland through Chestnut Hill.

Visitor passes

Visitors can save money and time buy purchasing one, three, or seven-day passes valid for unlimited travel on the subway, local bus and ferry.

  • One day pass - $7.50

  • Three day pass - $18.00

  • Seven day pass - $35.00

Bicycles and pets

Bicycles are allowed on Red, Blue, and Orange Line trains only (not on the Green Line) on weekdays during off-peak hours (10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and after 7:30 p.m.) and all day on weekends. Bikes are also not allowed on holidays such as the Fourth of July, St. Patrick's Day, and Patriots Day. For more detailed guidelines, see the MBTA page. Small pets, on the other hand, are allowed during all hours and on all lines. All pets must be securely leashed or in carrier, and should not take up a seat.


T courtesy follows basic common sense. When a train pulls into a station, let the passengers off the T before trying to get on. Once you get on, step to the middle of the car so you don't block the doors. And don't be shy about asking for directions or help—almost everyone will be willing to help point you in the right direction.

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