Anthony Golden / Gavel Media

Navigating Boston: A Comprehensive Guide to the T

Your respective hometowns have their subway systems, but the consensus seems to be that none is quite so terribly eccentric as the MBTA (colloquially, the T). Disclaimer: it runs very slowly, often will have mechanical problems, and does not do well with snow. That being said, it will get you anywhere you want to go (and some places you don’t) in and around the city of Boston, and it will be significantly cheaper than an Uber or Lyft. Below is the beginner’s guide to riding the T.

Green Line

The green line is your yellow brick road home to BC, as well as your escape route. To make it all the more confusing, the green line has four trains: B, C, D, and E. From BC, one can take the B, C, or D trains—B to traverse Allston and Brighton and land you at BU, C and D to go through Brookline—all of which will end up taking you to Copley Square, Boylston Street, and ultimately Park Street, which is where you can change onto any of the other lines.

The E train, which is not directly accessible from BC, will take riders to Northeastern, the MFA, and the Longwood Medical Area of Boston.

Red Line

From Park Street, take the red line outbound to Alewife to get to Cambridge (Harvard, MIT, good Mexican food), or outbound to South Boston, Dorchester (home to University of Massachusetts Boston and the JFK Presidential Library, among other things) or Quincy.

Orange Line

If the multiple green lines get confusing and you meant to go to the North End (via North Station) but find yourself stuck at Park Street or Government Center, hop on the orange line inbound. Outbound, it will take you to Chinatown and, ultimately, West Roxbury.

Blue Line

Fittingly named, the blue line is your means to the Boston Harbor and across it, ultimately landing on the North Shore in Revere, which is your best bet for an impromptu beach day sans car or commuter rail.

Silver Line

The silver line will not be your go-to mode of transportation; inbound it goes to East Boston, and you’ll most likely only be taking it to get you to South Station or Logan Airport, although inbound it can also get you to Southie. Take it outbound if you’re trying to get to Roxbury.

Now that you (hopefully) have all the lines down, here is a step-by-step guide to taking the T to some of the places you’ll find yourself wanting to get to…

Anthony Golden / Gavel Media

Anthony Golden / Gavel Media

SHOPPING

Newbury Street:  Jump onto any of the Green line trains accessible from BC (the D train will be the fastest, B the slowest and most ~ scenic ~) and take it to the Boylston Street stop.

Faneuil Hall (Quincy Market): After taking a Green line train to Park Street, walk away from the Commons and you’re there in five minutes.

Prudential Center: If you’re jonesing to spend the day at a mall, take a Green line train to Copley, where you’ll switch to a Green line E train outbound and get off at the first stop.

Galleria Mall: Take any Green line train to the Park Street stop, and switch onto an E train to ride it to the end of the line (Lechmere) if you need to get to the Cambridge shopping area.

SPORTS STADIUMS

Fenway: For one of the quickest and easiest T rides imaginable, take the Comm Ave BC Shuttle to the Reservoir stop, get on the inbound train and you’ll find yourself at Fenway in five stops.

TD Garden: For the Bruins, Celtics, Beanpot and various concerts (you know you want to see Adele), hop on the Green line in Cleveland Circle (C) and stay on until North Station, and you’re there. Alternatively, take the Green line via the Reservoir stop (D) until Government Center, then get off and wait for a C green train, and take that two stops to North Station.

CULTURAL

Museum of Fine Arts: If you’re feeling artsy and cultured but the McMullen Museum on campus isn’t satisfying your cravings, take any Green line train to the Copley Square stop, where you’ll pop onto an E train going outbound.

Opera House: For ballets, plays, and concerts take the Green line to Boylston, and Washington Street will be five minutes walking.

New England Aquarium: Jump onto a C or D Green line train and stay on until Government Center, where you’ll switch to the Blue line. Stay on the Blue Line until the Aquarium stop or, if you want to explore the Long Wharf area, instead of switching to the Blue line, stay on a Green line C train until Haymarket and walk down to the Harbor and Aquarium.

OTHER COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Boston University: The Green line’s B train starts right across from campus, and will let you get off at three different BU stops—West, Central, and East.

Harvard: To get to Harvard, take the Green line to Park Street and switch to an outbound Red line train towards Alewife. Then simply get off at the Harvard stop for all the red brick and ivy you can take.

MIT: If you’re a die-hard Good Will Hunting fan and want to see its setting up close and in person, or want a really good view of the Charles, take the same route you would to Harvard, but hop off at the Kendall/MIT stop.

Northeastern: Northeastern University is accessible via the Green line’s E train. Take a B, C, or D train to Copley, and then switch to an outbound E train to hit up Northeastern.

Colleges of the Fenway:  These schools, which include Emmanuel, Simmons, Wheelock, MCAD, Wentworth, and MCPHS, are all located in the Fenway neighborhood, close to Northeastern and the MFA. Take the same T trip you would to Northeastern for access to six more schools.

Final tips and tricks

Within your four years, chances are you’ll want to hit up more places than Newbury or the North End, so here are some final pointers on general T use.

  • Different lines and trains start and stop service at all different times, which change depending on the day. A good rule of thumb is not to depend on the T for any travel between midnight and 6AM, but always check to make sure trains will be running when you need them.
  • If you’re a freshman living on Newton Campus, the Green line’s D train has a stop in Newton Center, behind the string of buildings where MiniLux and Bank of America (among other things) are housed. Take advantage!
  • The various MBTA Commuter rails leave from North or South Station, and can take you outside of the Greater Boston Area if needed. Tickets are cheap and the trains come often, so if you’re from the South or North Shore or Western Mass, or need to get to any random parts of MA, it can be insanely helpful.
  • Off of random stops along the Green line’s B, C, and D trains are little neighborhoods with restaurants, shops and gyms, and getting to know them will make you feel at home. Don’t be afraid to jump on without a destination and get off at various stops to find the little known areas of Brighton and Brookline where you can have just as good of brunch as on Newbury Street.

Getting a reusable CharlieCard is much more cost-efficient than getting Charlie Tickets or paying cash each time you get on the T. Alternatively, buy a semester pass from BC’s student services.

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