Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
MBTA services sampling excluding MBTA Boat.jpg
The MBTA provides services in five different modes (boat not pictured) around Greater Boston.
Locale Greater Boston
Transit type Commuter rail, rapid transit, light rail, bus, BRT, trolleybus, ferryboat
Number of lines 12 (commuter rail)
4 (rapid transit)
5 (light rail)
4 (trolleybus)
4 (ferryboat)
183 (bus)[1]
Number of stations 123 (commuter rail)
51 (rapid transit)[2]
74 (light rail)[3][4]
22 (BRT)[5]
Daily ridership 1,350,000 (weekday, all modes)[6]
Chief executive Jonathan R. Davis (interim)
Headquarters Massachusetts State Transportation Building
10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116
Began operation 1897 (light rail)
1901 (rapid transit)
1964 (MBTA)
Operator(s) MBTA (most bus, subway, BRT, trolleybus, light rail)
MBCR (commuter rail)
Harbor Express/Boston Harbor Cruises (Boat)
various contractors (700-series bus routes)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, often referred to as the MBTA or simply The T, is the public operator of most bus, subway, commuter rail and ferry systems in the greater Boston, Massachusetts, area. Officially a "body politic and corporate, and a political subdivision" of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,[8] it was formed in 1964. Its immediate predecessor, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), was immortalized by The Kingston Trio in the popular folk-protest lament "M.T.A." Locals call it simply "The T", after its logo, the letter T in a circle, adopted in the 1960s and inspired by the Stockholm Metro.[9] In 2008, the system averaged 1.3 million passenger trips each weekday, of which the subway averaged 598,200, making it the fourth busiest subway system in the United States.[10][11] The Green Line and Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line of the T comprise the busiest light-rail system in the U.S, with a weekday ridership of 255,100.

The MBTA also operates an independent law enforcement agency, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police. In 2006, 31.60% of workers in the city proper commuted by public transport.[12]

The MBTA is one of only two U.S. transit agencies that operate all of the five major types of transit vehicles: regional (commuter) rail trains, "heavy" rapid transit (subway/elevated) trains, light rail vehicles (trolleys), electric trolleybuses and motor buses. The other is Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).[13]

The MBTA is the largest consumer of electricity in Massachusetts,[14] and the second-largest land owner after the Department of Conservation and Recreation.[15] As of 2007, its CNG bus fleet was the largest consumer of alternative fuels in the state.[16]

On June 26, 2009, Governor Deval Patrick signed a law to place the MBTA along with other state transportation agencies within the administrative authority of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), with the MBTA now part of the Mass Transit division (MassTrans).[17][18][19][20] The 2009 transportation law continued the MBTA corporate structure and changed the MBTA board membership to the five Governor-appointed members of the Mass DOT Board.[21]



Steam railroads in Boston in 1880. From the U.S. Census Bureau.
Planned West End Street Railway system, 1885; consolidation of these lines was complete by 1887. See also 1880 horse railway map

Mass transportation in Boston was provided by private companies, often granted charters by the state legislature for limited monopolies, with powers of eminent domain to establish a right-of-way, until the creation of the MTA in 1947. Development of mass transportation followed both existing economic and population patterns, and helped shape those patterns.


Shortly after the steam locomotive became practical for mass transportation, the private Boston and Lowell Railroad was chartered in 1830, connecting Boston to Lowell, a major northerly mill town, via one of the oldest railroads in North America. This marked the beginning of the development of American intercity railroads, which in Massachusetts would later become the MBTA Commuter Rail system and the Green Line "D" Branch.


Starting with the opening of the Cambridge Railroad on March 26, 1856, a profusion of streetcar lines appeared in Boston under chartered companies.[citation needed] Therefore, in spite of changes of the companies, Boston is the city with the oldest continuously working streetcar system in the world. Later, many of these companies consolidated, and animal-drawn vehicles were converted to electric propulsion.[citation needed]

Subways and elevated railways

Streetcar congestion in downtown Boston led to the establishment of subways and elevated rail, the former established in 1897 and the latter in 1901, resulting in the Tremont Street Subway, the first active subway in the United States. These grade-separated railways both added additional transportation capacity and avoided delays caused by intersections with cross streets.[22] The first elevated railway and the first rapid transit line in Boston came three years before the first underground line of the New York City Subway, but 34 years after the first London Underground lines, and long after the first elevated railway in New York.[citation needed]

Park Street station in Boston on the Green Line soon after opening, circa 1898

Various extensions and branches were built to the subway in both directions, bypassing more surface tracks. As more elevated lines were built, more and more streetcar lines were cut back for faster downtown service.[citation needed]


The Boston Elevated Railway started replacing rail vehicles with buses in 1922. In 1936, it started replacing some rail vehicles with trackless trolleys. The last Middlesex and Boston Street Railway streetcar ran in 1930.[citation needed] By the beginning of 1953, the only remaining streetcar lines fed two tunnels - the main Tremont Street Subway network downtown and the short tunnel (now the Harvard Bus Tunnel) in Harvard Square.[citation needed]

Public enterprise

The old elevated railways proved to be an eyesore and required several sharp curves in Boston's twisty streets. The Atlantic Avenue Elevated was closed in 1938 amidst declining ridership and was demolished in 1942. As rail passenger service became increasingly unprofitable, largely due to rising automobile ownership, government takeover prevented abandonment and dismantlement of the systems. The MTA purchased and took over subway, elevated, streetcar, and bus operations from the Boston Elevated Railway in 1947.[23]

In the 1950s, the MTA ran new subway extensions, while the last two streetcar lines running into the Pleasant Street Portal of the Tremont Street Subway were substituted with buses in 1953 and 1962.[citation needed]

On August 3, 1964, the MBTA succeeded the MTA, with an enlarged service area.[citation needed] The original MTA district of 14 cities and towns was expanded to 78 cities and towns.[citation needed] The MBTA was formed partly to subsidize existing commuter rail operations. As this happened, the MBTA acquired lines in stages from 1973 through 1976 amidst large cutbacks in service and coverage area. Since then, many of these lines have seen service return.[citation needed]

The MBTA assigned colors to its four rapid transit lines in 1965, and lettered the branches of the Green Line from north to south. However, shortages of streetcars, among other factors, caused bus substitution of rail service on two branches of the Green Line.[citation needed] The "A" Branch ceased operating in 1969 as a rail service.[citation needed] The portion of the "E" Branch from Heath Street to Arborway was replaced by buses in 1985.[citation needed]

The MBTA purchased bus routes in the outer suburbs to the north and south from the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway in 1968.[citation needed] As with the commuter rail system, many of the outlying routes were dropped shortly before or after the takeover due to low ridership and high operating costs.

In the 1970s, the MBTA received a boost from the Boston Transportation Planning Review areawide re-evaluation of the role of mass transit relative to highways. Producing a moratorium on highway construction inside Route 128, numerous mass transit lines were planned for expansion by the Voorhees-Skidmore, Owings and Merrill-ESL consulting team. The removal of elevated lines continued, and the closure of the Washington Street Elevated brought the end of rapid transit service to the Roxbury neighborhood. Between 1971 and 1985, the Red Line was extended both north and south, providing not only additional subway system coverage, but also major parking structures at several of the terminal and intermediate stations.[citation needed]

In the 21st century

By 1999, the district was expanded further to 175 cities and towns, adding most that were served by or adjacent to commuter rail lines, though the MBTA did not assume responsibility for local service in those communities adjacent to or served by commuter rail.[citation needed]

Interior of South Station in Boston, a major MBTA, Amtrak and Greyhound transportation hub

A turning point in funding occurred in 2000. Prior to July 1, 2000, the MBTA was reimbursed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for all costs above revenue collected (net cost of service). Beginning on that date, the T was granted a dedicated revenue stream consisting of amounts assessed on served cities and towns, along with a dedicated 20% portion of the 5% state sales tax.[citation needed] The MBTA now must live within this "forward funding" budget.

The Commonwealth assigned to the MBTA responsibility for increasing public transit to compensate for increased automobile pollution from the Big Dig. The T submerged a nearby portion of the Green Line and rebuilt Haymarket and North Stations during Big Dig construction. However, these projects have strained the MBTA's limited resources, since the Big Dig project did not include funding for these improvements. Since 1988, the MBTA has been the fastest expanding transit system in the country, even as Greater Boston has been the slowest growing metropolitan area.[24] When, in 2000, the MBTA's budget became limited, the agency began to run into debt from scheduled projects and obligatory Big Dig remediation work, which have now given the MBTA the highest debt of any transit authority in the country. In an effort to compensate, rates underwent an appreciable hike on January 1, 2007. Increasingly, local advocacy groups are calling on the state to assume $2.9 billion of the authority's now approximate debt of $9 billion, the interest on which severely limits funds available for required projects.[25]

With the 2004 replacement of the Causeway Street Elevated with a subway connection, the only remaining elevated railways are a short portion of the Red Line at Charles/MGH, the stretch of Red Line between Andrew Station (once the train exits the tunnel beyond Andrew Station going southbound) and proceeding southbound to either Ashmont Station on the Ashmont line or Braintree Station on the Braintree line, and a short portion of the Green Line between Science Park and Lechmere.

In 2006, the creation of the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority saw Framingham, Natick, Weston, Sudbury, Wayland, Marlborough, Ashland, Sherborn, Hopkinton, Holliston, and Southborough subtract their MWRTA assessment from their MBTA assessment. Communities that are also members of other RTAs such as CATA, MVRTA, LRTA, WRTA, GATRA, and BAT may also subtract their RTA assessment from their MBTA assessment.[citation needed] The amount of funding the MBTA received remained the same; the assessment on remaining cities and towns increased but is still allocated by the same formula.[citation needed]

The General Manager, Daniel Grabauskas, revealed in 2008 that the MBTA cut trips from published train and bus schedules without informing passengers, referred to as “hidden service cuts”, saying this misrepresentation of service had been happening for years. Grabauskas said this practice has been ended.[26]

On October 31, 2007 the MBTA reestablished commuter rail service to the Greenbush section of Scituate, the third branch of the Old Colony service.[27] Rail renovation on the Green Line "D" Branch took place in the summer of 2007.[citation needed] New, low-floor cars on the line were introduced on December 1, 2008.

On May 28, 2008, a westbound trolley on the Green Line "D" Branch slammed into a stopped train between the Waban and Woodland stations shortly after 6 p.m. At least seven people were injured, and the operator of the moving train, identified as Terrese Edmonds, 24, was killed.[28]

On May 8, 2009, two Green Line trolleys collided between Park Street and Government Center when the driver of one of the trolleys, 24-year-old Aiden Quinn, was text messaging his girlfriend while driving the train.[29] A new rule banning cell phones for operators while driving their bus, train or streetcar was put into place days later.[30]

MBTA operations and services


A typical NABI CNG bus.
Route 71 trackless trolley

The MBTA bus system is the nation's seventh largest by ridership and comprises over 150 routes across the Greater Boston area. The area served by the MBTA's bus operations corresponds to that served by the subway, but is significantly smaller than that served by MBTA's commuter rail operation. Seven other regional transit authorities also provide bus services within that larger area, these being Brockton Area Transit Authority, Cape Ann Transportation Authority, Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority, Lowell Regional Transit Authority, Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority, Montachusett Regional Transit Authority, and Worcester Regional Transit Authority. All of these authorities have their own fare structures and subcontract operation to private bus companies, but in many cases their buses serve as feeders to the MBTA commuter rail.[31]

Within MBTA's bus service area, transfers from the subway are free if using a CharlieCard (for local buses); transfers to the subway require paying the difference between bus and the higher subway fare (for local buses; if not using a CharlieCard, full subway fare must be paid in addition to full bus fare). Bus-to-bus transfers (for local buses) are free unless paying cash. Many of the outlying routes run express along major highways to downtown. The buses are colored yellow on maps and in station decor.

The Silver Line is the MBTA's first service designated as bus rapid transit, even though it lacks many of the characteristics of bus rapid transit. The first segment, replacing the 49 bus, which in turn replaced the Washington Street Elevated section of the Orange Line, began operations in 2002, with free transfers to the subways downtown until January 1, 2007, when the fare system was revised. The "Washington Street" segment runs along various downtown streets, and mostly in dedicated bus lanes on Washington Street itself. It is categorized as a "bus" service for fare purposes.[32]

The "Waterfront" section opened at the end of 2004, and connects South Station to South Boston, partly via a tunnel and partly on the surface. These buses run dual-mode, trackless trolley in the tunnel and diesel bus outside. Service to Logan Airport began in June 2005. The Waterfront segment is classified as a "subway" for fare purposes.[32]

A third, tunneled segment is proposed to connect the two lines for through service. Currently a transfer between phases is possible at South Station. "Phase 3" is controversial due to its high cost and the fact that many do not consider Phase I to be adequate replacement service for the old Elevated.

Current plans include more bus rapid transit routes, including the Urban Ring, intended to expand upon existing Crosstown Buses.

The MBTA contracts with private bus companies to provide subsidized service on certain routes, outside of the usual fare structure. These are known collectively as the HI-RIDE Commuter Bus service, and are not numbered or mapped in the same way as integral bus services.[33]

Four routes connecting to Harvard Station (Red Line) still run as trackless trolleys; there was once a much larger trackless trolley system.[34]

In FY2005, there were on average 363,500 weekday boardings of MBTA-operated buses and trackless trolleys (not including the Silver Line), or 31.8% of the MBTA system. Another 4,400 boardings (0.38%) occurred on subsidized bus routes operated by private carriers.[35]


Geographically accurate map of the Boston subway system from 2003

The subway system has three rapid transit lines—the Red, Orange and Blue Lines, and two light rail lines—the Green Line and the Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line (designated as part of the Red Line). The system operates according to a spoke-hub distribution paradigm, with the lines running between central Boston and its environs. All four colored lines meet downtown at a square configuration, and the Orange and Green Lines (which run parallel) meet directly at two stations. The Red Line has two branches in the south—Ashmont and Braintree, named after their terminal stations. The portion from Harvard to Park Street Under represented the city's first rapid transit subway, 1912. The Green Line has four branches in the west—"B" (Boston College), "C" (Cleveland Circle), "D" (Riverside) and "E" (Heath Street). The Green Line's underground section between Park Street Station and Boylston Street at the Boston Common was the first subway line in the United States, in 1897. The "A" Branch formerly went to Watertown, filling in the north-to-south letter assignment pattern, and the "E" Branch formerly continued beyond Heath Street to Arborway. The colors were assigned on August 26, 1965 in conjunction with design standards developed by Cambridge Seven Associates,[36] and have served as the primary identifier for the lines since the 1964 reorganization of the MTA into the MBTA.

In FY2005, there were on average 628,400 weekday boardings on the rapid transit and light rail lines (including the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit), or 55.0% of the MBTA system.[35]

The Orange Line is so named because it used to run down Orange Street (now lower Washington Street), the Green Line because it runs adjacent to parts of the Emerald Necklace, the Blue Line because it runs under Boston Harbor, and the Red Line because its northernmost station used to be at Harvard University, whose school color is crimson.[citation needed]

The three rapid transit lines are incompatible; trains of one line would have to be modified to run on another. Orange and Blue Line trains are similar enough that modification of some Blue Line trains for operation on the Orange Line was considered, although ultimately rejected for cost reasons; some of the new Blue Line cars from Siemens Transportation have been tested on the Orange Line after-hours before acceptance for revenue service on the Blue Line. There are no direct track connections between lines, except between the Red Line and Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line, but all except the Blue Line have currently unused connections to the national rail network, which have been used for deliveries.[37]

A segment of Green Line tunnel from Park Street opened in 1897, making it the first subway in the United States. The downtown portions of what are now the Green, Orange, Blue, and Red lines were all in service by 1912. Additions to the rapid transit network occurred in most decades of the 1900s, and continue in the 2000s with the addition of Silver Line bus rapid transit and planned Green Line expansion. (See History and Future plans sections.)

Commuter rail

EMD F40PH-2C Diesel Electric Locomotives of MBTA Commuter trains await their use in Worcester Mass.
Commuter rail lines service the eastern third of the state

The MBTA Commuter Rail system is a regional rail network that shares its tracks with inter-city passenger and freight trains. As of 2007, the system was composed of twelve lines, three of which have branches, and another branch provides access to Gillette Stadium for special events in or near Foxborough. The rail network operates according to a spoke-hub distribution paradigm, with the lines running radially outward from the city of Boston. Eight of the lines converge at South Station, with four of these passing through Back Bay station. The other four converge at North Station. Amtrak uses two of the south-side lines and one of the north-side lines for long-distance intercity service. The Commuter Rail system has used the color purple on train cars and system maps since October 8, 1974, and consequently it is sometimes called the "Purple Line."[38]

There is no passenger connection between the two sides. The opportunity for a North–South Rail Link, in association with the burying of the Central Artery in the Big Dig, was furthered by designing the Big Dig tunnel to permit the construction of a rail bed below the level of the automobile roadbeds.[39][40][citation needed] Passengers continue to take the Orange Line between Back Bay and North Station, or the Red and Orange, or Red and Green Lines between South and North stations, or take a bus or taxicab.

A south-side commuter rail line, the Greenbush Line, recently completed construction and testing and opened for commuting on October 31, 2007. A south-side branch to Fall River and New Bedford is in the planning stages.[41] Track exists to extend the Middleborough/Lakeville Line to restore passenger service to Cape Cod, formerly part of the Old Colony Railroad lines.

Each commuter rail line is divided into up to 9 fare zones (previously 10 on some lines), numbered 1A, and 1 through 8. Riders are charged based on the number of zones they travel through. Tickets can be purchased on the train or at designated ticket vendor locations near major stations, such as the Anderson Regional Transportation Center. If a local vendor is available, riders must purchase a ticket before boarding to avoid a surcharge. Fares range from $1.70 to $7.75, with multi-ride and monthly passes available.[42] In FY2005, there were on average 135,900 weekday boardings, which was 11.9% of the MBTA system as a whole.[35]

The MBTA commuter rail network was the first in the nation to offer free Wi-Fi onboard trains. MBTA recommends use of the service for simple web services.[43] After a successful test on the Framingham/Worcester line, the MBTA has been increasing Internet connectivity for passengers. It now offers at least two wi-fi-enabled coaches per train with the hopes of adding access to the other coaches by the end of the 2010.[43]


Commuter boat from Quincy approaching the dock at Long Wharf

The MBTA Boat system comprises several ferry routes via Boston Harbor. One of these is an inner harbor service, linking the downtown waterfront with the Boston Navy Yard in Charlestown. The other routes are commuter routes, linking downtown to Hingham, Hull, Salem and Quincy. Some commuter services operate via Logan International Airport.

All boat services are operated by private sector companies under contract to the MBTA. In FY2005, the MBTA boat system carried 4,650 passengers (0.41% of total MBTA passengers) per weekday.[35] The service is provided through contract of the MBTA by Boston Harbor Cruises (BHC) and Water Transportation Alternatives, Inc. (WTAI) under the name Boston's Best Cruises.


The MBTA contracts out operation of The RIDE, an on-demand pickup and dropoff service for people with mobility challenges. Paratransit services carry 5,400 passengers on a typical weekday, or 0.47% of the MBTA system.[35][44] Among the private sector companies under contractual agreement for The RIDE service are: Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS),[45] Veterans Transportation LLC.,[46] and TTI/YCN Joint Venture, LLC.[47]


The MBTA operates park and ride facilities at many outlying stations, with a total capacity of almost 46,000 automobiles. The number of spaces at stations with parking varies from a few dozen to over 2,500. The larger lots and garages are usually near a major highway exit. Lots often fill up during the morning rush hour. There are some 22,000 spaces on the southern portion of the commuter rail system, 9,400 on the northern portion and 14,600 at subway stations. The parking fee for a day was raised by $2 on November 15, 2008, to $7.00 at subway parking garages, $5.00 to $6.00 at subway surface lots, $4.00 at commuter rail surface lots, and $3.00 at commuter ferry lots. Most stations also have parking racks for bicycles. Management for a number of parking lots owned by the MBTA are managed by LAZ Parking Limited, LLC.[48]

Pay by Phone

Customers parking in MBTA-owned and operated lots with existing cash honor boxes can pay for parking online or via phone while in their cars or once they board a train, bus, or commuter boat.[49][50]


From time to time the MBTA has made various agreements with companies that contribute to commuting options. One company the MBTA selected was Zipcar; the MBTA currently provides Zipcar with a limited number of parking spaces at various subway stations throughout the system.[51]

Public funding

Fares and fare collection

Ticket machines and fare gates at the World Trade Center station on the Silver Line.

Beginning January 1, 2007, rapid transit trips (including rides on the Green Line) cost $1.70 for CharlieCard holders, $2 for CharlieTicket or cash payers. Bus and trackless trolley fares are $1.25 for CharlieCard holders, $1.50 for others. Persons using CharlieCards can transfer free from a subway to a bus, and from a bus to a subway for the $0.45 difference in price. CharlieTicket holders can transfer free between buses, but not from a subway to a bus. Cash payers may only transfer between subway lines, as well as to and from the Silver Line Washington Street, since it's considered Bus Rapid Transit. (Example: Can transfer from Red to Silver Line at South Station; Can transfer from Green to Silver at Boylston St; Cannot transfer from Green Line to #1 bus at Hynes)

Discounted fares ($0.60 for the subway and $0.40 for local buses) as well as discounted monthly link passes are available to seniors over 65, and persons who are permanently disabled who utilize a special photo Charlie Card (called "Senior ID" and "Transportation Access Pass", respectively). Holders of these passes are also entitled to 50% off the Commuter Rail. Persons who are legally blind ride for free on all MBTA services (including express buses and the Commuter Rail) with Blind Access Card.[52]

Children 11 and under ride for free with an adult, and students aged 12–17 receive a 50% discount on fares (or a monthly link pass for $20) until 11 pm on school days. Student discounts require a Student Charlie Card issued through the holder's school and is good until around the time when school vacation begins.

The MBTA began collecting fares for outbound trips originating on the surface part of the Green Line on January 1, 2007. The 2007 fare increase also eliminated exit fares at certain Red Line stops and ended higher fares at inbound stops on the outer part of the Green Line "D" Branch.

Monthly passes have been in use since the late 1980s. The MBTA also sells one- and seven-day passes intended for use by visitors. These visitor passes begin from the exact time of purchase at the vending machine. However, for large orders, these visitor passes can be ordered with an exact date if purchased through the MBTA bulk sales in advance.

The fare system, including on-board and in-station fare vending machines, was purchased from German-based Scheidt and Bachmann, which developed the technology.[53] The Charlie Cards were developed by Gemalto[54] and later by Giesecke & Devrient.[55]


MBTA Operating Revenues
Revenue Source Amount
(FY 2008 budget)
State Sales Tax $756M
Fares $430M
Municipal Assessments $143M
Parking, Real Estate Tenants, etc. $37.4M
Real Estate Sales and Misc. $20.8M
Advertising $11.0M
Federal government $8.0M
Interest $3.8M
Utility reimbursement from tenants $2.8M
Total $1.413B

Since the "forward funding" reform in 2000, the MBTA is funded primarily through 1% of the 6.25% state sales tax (with minimum dollar amount guarantee), passenger fares, and formula assessments of the cities and towns in its service area (excepting those which are assessed for the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority). Supplemental income is obtained from its parking lots (reserved for passengers), renting space to retail vendors in and around stations, rents from utility companies using MBTA rights of way, selling surplus land and movable property, advertising on vehicles and properties, and federal operating subsidies for special programs.

The FY2008 budget includes $1,037M for operating expenses and $374M in debt and lease payments.

The Capital Investment Program is a rolling 5-year plan which programs capital expenses. The draft FY2009-2014 CIP[56] allocates $3,795M, including $879M in projects funded from non-MBTA state sources (required for Clean Air Act compliance), and $299M in projects with one-time federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Capital projects are paid for by federal grants, allocations from the general budget of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (for legal commitments and expansion projects) and MBTA bonds (which are paid off through the operating budget).

The FY2010 budget was supplemented by $160 million in sales tax revenue when the statewide rate was raised from 5% to 6.25%, to avoid service cuts or a fare increase in a year when deferred debt payments were coming due.[57]

Capital improvements and planning process

The Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization is responsible for overall regional surface transportation planning. As required by federal law for projects to be eligible for federal funding (except earmarks), the MPO maintains a fiscally constrained 20+ year Regional Transportation Plan for surface transportation expansion, the current edition of which is called Journey to 2030. The required 4-year MPO plan is called the Transportation Improvement Plan.

The MBTA maintains its own 25-year capital planning document, called the Program for Mass Transportation, which is fiscally unconstrained. The agency's 4-year plan is called the Capital Improvement Plan; it is the primary mechanism by which money is actually allocated to capital projects. Major capital spending projects must be approved by the MBTA Board, and except for unexpected needs, are usually included in the initial CIP.

In addition to federal funds programmed through the Boston MPO, and MBTA capital funds derived from fares, sales tax, municipal assessments, and other minor internal sources, the T receives funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for certain projects. The state may fund items in the State Implementation Plan (SIP) - such as the Big Dig mitigation projects - which is the plan required under the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution. (As of 2007, all of Massachusetts is designated as a clean air "non-attainment" zone.)

In 2005, the administration of then-governor Mitt Romney announced a long range transportation plan that emphasized repair and maintenance over expansion.

Due to the financial constraints on the MBTA budget, it is expected that funds for all further expansion projects will be funded with money outside the MBTA's budget. A state transportation bond bill is currently being used to fund the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford, and planning for commuter rail service to Fall River and New Bedford.

Projects underway

Blue Line

There is a proposal to extend the Blue Line northward to Lynn, Massachusetts, with two potential extension routes having been identified. One proposed path would run through marshland alongside the existing Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line, while the other would extend the line along the remainder of the BRB&L right of way.[58] Construction is expected to begin in 2017.[59]

In addition, the MBTA has committed to designing an extension of the line's southern terminus westward to Charles/MGH, where it would connect with the Red Line.[60][61] This was one of the mitigation measures the Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed to as part of the Big Dig.[62]

Green Line

To settle a lawsuit with the Conservation Law Foundation to mitigate increased automobile emissions from the Big Dig, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed to extend the Green Line north to Somerville and Medford, two suburbs currently underserved by the MBTA. This plan would start at a relocated Lechmere Station, and terminate at Route 16 and Mystic Valley Parkway in Somerville (on the Mystic River), by the settlement-imposed deadline of December 31, 2014.[63] There will be an expected daily ridership of 8,420.[64]

Another mitigation project in the initial settlement was restoration of service on the "E" Branch between Heath Street and Arborway/Forest Hills. A revised settlement agreement resulted in the substitution of other projects with similar air quality benefits. The state Executive Office of Transportation promised to consider other transit enhancements in the Arborway corridor.[65]

Orange Line

Assembly Square is a planned new station on the MBTA's Orange Line. No new rail trackage will be added, since the Orange Line already runs through the site, but a new platform will be added to allow passengers to board and disembark. The new station is tentatively scheduled to begin construction in 2011, and to open in 2013.[66] It is being built alongside the planned Assembly Square project (which is also located right next to the Assembly Square Marketplace).

Silver Line

Silver Line Phase III comprises the connection of the two halves of the Silver Line via an underground busway from Boylston station on the Green Line to South Station. An initial proposed route involved a mile long tunnel connecting separate portals located at Charles and at Tremont streets. [7] The local Tufts Medical Center has vehemently protested this proposal, citing possible problems with traffic and noise.[67][68] Environmental review and preliminary engineering were expected to be completed by the end of 2008.[69] A federal funding decision was expected in 2010, with possible construction starting in 2011 and ending in 2016.[70] The MBTA has been managing project planning. As of 2010, planning and construction of the Phase III tunnel has been suspended indefinitely (without any physical construction having begun) due to funding difficulties and community opposition.

Urban Ring

The Urban Ring is a project of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to develop new public transportation routes that would provide improved circumferential connections among many existing transit lines that project radially from downtown Boston, allowing easier travel between locations outside of downtown. The project corridor passes through various neighborhoods of Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Somerville, Cambridge, and Brookline. The capital cost for this version of the plan is estimated at $2.2 billion, with a projected daily ridership of 170,000. Fifty-three percent of the route is either in a bus-only lane, dedicated busway, or tunnel.[71] The Urban Ring would have a higher collective ridership than the Orange Line, Blue Line, or the entire commuter rail system.[71]

Commuter rail

There are several proposed extension to current commuter rail lines. A controversial extension of the Stoughton Line is proposed to Fall River, and New Bedford.[72][73] Critics argue that building the extension does not make economic sense.[74]

A 20-mile (32 km) extension of the Providence Line is under construction past Providence to T. F. Green Airport and Wickford Junction in Rhode Island. The T. F. Green Airport part of the extension is operating, with the Wickford part expected to start operating in 2011. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is also studying the feasibility of serving existing Amtrak stations in Kingston and Westerly as well as constructing new stations in Cranston, East Greenwich, and West Davisville. Federal funding has also been provided for preliminary planning of a new station in Pawtucket.[75]

In September 2009, CSX Transportation and the commonwealth finalized a $100 million agreement to purchase CSX's Framingham to Worcester tracks, as well as some other track, to improve service on the Framingham/Worcester Line.[76] A liability issue that had held up the agreement[77][78] was resolved. There is also a plan to upgrade the Fitchburg Line to have cab signaling and to construct a second track along a seven-mile (11 km) stretch near Acton which is shared with freight traffic, so that the Fitchburg to Boston trip will be able to take only about an hour.[79]

The state of New Hampshire created the New Hampshire Rail Authority and allocated money to build platforms at Nashua and Manchester.[80] An article in The Eagle-Tribune claims that Massachusetts is negotiating to buy property which has the potential to extend the Haverhill Line to Plaistow, New Hampshire.[81]

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed in 2005 to make improvements on the Fairmount Line part of its legally binding commitment to mitigate increased air pollution from the Big Dig. These improvements must be complete by December 31, 2011. Four new stations will be constructed.[82] The total cost of the project is estimated at $79.4 million,[83] and will divert 220 trips from automobiles to transit.[84]

No direct connection exists between North Station and South Station. A North–South Rail Link has been proposed to unite the two halves of the commuter rail system; but, because of the high cost, Massachusetts has withdrawn its sponsorship of the proposal, in communications with the United States Department of Transportation.[citation needed]

Management and administration

The MBTA has a board of directors which it shares with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation leads the executive management team of MassDOT in addition to serving in the Governor's Cabinet. The MBTA's executive management team is led by its General Manager, who is currently also serving as the MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator, overseeing all public transit in the state.[85]

The MBTA Advisory Board represents the cities and towns in the MBTA service district. The municipalities are assessed a total of $143M annually (as of FY2008). In return, the Advisory Board has veto power over the MBTA operating and capital budgets, including the power to reduce the overall amount.[86]

The MBTA's Board of Directors should not be confused with a separate Board of Directors for MBCR.

Key people

MBTA Board of Directors
  • John R. Jenkins, Chair of the Board of Directors
  • Professor Andrew Whittle
  • Janice Loux
  • Elizabeth Levin
  • Ferdinand Alvaro

(The same five appointees also serve as the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.)

Other key people
  • MBTA General Manager—Jonathan R. Davis (interim)
  • MBTA Chief Operating Officer-John C. Lewis
  • MBCR General Manager—Hugh J. Kiley, Jr.[88]
  • MBTA Blue Line Deputy Director—Carolyne Daniels
  • MBTA Green Line Deputy Director-Ted Timmons
  • MBTA Orange Line Deputy Director—Tina Beasley
  • MBTA Red Line Deputy Director—William McClellan
  • MBTA Silver Line Deputy Director—Karen Burns
  • Manager of Fixed Route Disability/Senior Services—Kathy Cox
  • Customer Service Director—Carla Howze
  • Director of Community Relations-Stephanie Neal-Johnson
  • Director of Communications and Coordination-Darrin M. McAuliffe

Major facilities and offices

The MBTA's buses are administered by several bus garages located throughout eastern Massachusetts, with the North and South Shores being represented in addition to Metro-Boston. These garages are:

Rail lines have their own maintenance facilities:

Major administrative facilities:

  • 10 Park Plaza, Boston
  • 45 High Street, Boston
  • Customer Service Window: Downtown Crossing, Boston (Near Filene's Basement), Weekdays
  • Customer Service Window: Harvard Station, Cambridge (Last three days/First three days of the month), Weekdays
  • Police: 240 Southampton Street, Boston
  • Senior & Transportation Access Pass (TAP) / Disability Office: Back Bay Station, Boston
  • Revenue Operations: 32 Alford Street, Charlestown

Employees and unions

The MBTA currently employs 6,346 workers, of which roughly 600 are in part-time jobs.[89]

Structurally, the employees of the MBTA function as part of a handful of trade unions. The largest union of the MBTA is the Carmen’s Union (Local 589), representing bus and subway operators. This includes full and part-time bus drivers, motorpersons and streetcar motorpersons, full and part-time train attendants, and Customer Service Agents (CSAs). Further unions include the Machinists Union, Local 264; Electrical Workers Union, Local 717; the Welder's Union, Local 651; the Executive Union; the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 453; the Professional and Technical Engineers Union, Local 105; and the Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 6.

Within the authority, employees are ranked according to seniority (or "rating"). This is categorized by an employee's five-digit badge number, though some of the longest serving employees still have only four-digits. An employee's badge number indicates the relative length of employment with the MBTA; badges are issued in sequential order. The rating structure determines many different things, including the rank in which perks are to be offered to employee, such as: When offering the choice for quarter-annual route assignments ("picks"), overtime offerings, and even the rank to transfer new hires from part-time roles to a full time role.

Law enforcement and security

The MBTA maintains its own police force which actively patrols all areas and vehicles used by the Authority. MBTA Police conduct routine vehicle patrol, routine foot patrol, incident investigations, and specialized patrol with K-9 dogs, and other specialized methods of explosive and narcotics detection.

The MBTA also maintains several closed-circuit television facilities located throughout its service area.[90] The cameras monitor various areas including trains stations, and MBTA vehicles throughout the system on a 24-hour basis. MBTA phone numbers pasted onto the front of the fare gates can place customers having a problem directly into contact with one of these operations centers.


Ahead of the MBTA's 2009 restructuring with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the MBTA had a total debenture of over US$ 8 billion.[91] As a direct result, MBTA fares and parking fees have increased significantly.[92] In July 2009 the MBTA proposed a 20% fare increase and significant service cuts.[93] The MBTA has endured criticism that the increases have outpaced inflation.[citation needed]

When the Orange Line was realigned in the 1980s, its course was altered away from the lower income areas of Everett, Chelsea and Roxbury, where residents are less likely to own cars, and depend more on public transit, toward the more affluent towns of Malden and Medford, as well as sections of the Jamaica Plain neighborhood (where car ownership is higher, and thus, reliance on public transit is far lower). In response, the MBTA built a bus line operated by articulated silver buses equipped with specialized dispatching equipment. The MBTA named the service the Silver Line, and classified it as though it were a rail transit service. The service has been criticized in many respects, most notably for its slow speed, and the fact that it utilizes the same roads as cars and other "street" traffic, subsequently increasing gridlock and collisions, earning it the nickname "Silver Lie" among many.[94]

Transportation advocates in Boston have raised the issue that residents cannot go from one outlying area to another without first riding downtown and changing lines.[citation needed] The Urban Ring Project, which would provide more circumferential service, is in the planning stages and has largely not yet been implemented due to lack of funding. This problem also occurs in the Washington Metro system, where customers cannot travel between suburbs on the same side of Washington without going through downtown, and Chicago's Metra and CTA systems, where all lines lead into and out of the central business district, rather than around it.

The T stops running at 12:45 a.m. each night, despite the fact that bars and clubs in most areas of Boston are open until 2 a.m. Like nearly all subways worldwide, the MBTA's subway does not have parallel express and local tracks, so rail maintenance can only be done when the T is not running, and "with a 109-year-old system", says the MBTA press secretary, "you have to be out there every night."[95] The T did experiment with "Night Owl" bus service from 2001 to 2005, but abandoned it on account of the $7.53 per rider cost to the MBTA to keep the service open, five times the cost per passenger of an average bus route.[96]

See also


  1. ^ MBTA-About the MBTA
  2. ^ MBTA Subway Map
  3. ^ MBTA Green Line
  4. ^ MBTA Red Line
  5. ^ MBTA Silver Line
  6. ^ "T ridership hits record high", Boston Globe, 2 November 2011 [1]
  7. ^ About the T - Financials - Appendix: Statistical Profile. MBTA. 2007. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Cudahy, Brian (2004). A Century of Subways: Celebrating 100 Years of New York's Underground Railways. Fordham Univ Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780823222933. 
  10. ^ Ridership rising fast, MBTA announces Boston Globe June 6, 2008.
  11. ^ Wall, Lucas (August 1, 2005). "T ridership reaches low point of decade". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  12. ^ U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2006, Table S0802
  13. ^ "SEPTA Facts". SEPTA Web site. 
  14. ^ T to tap reserves to balance budget by Mac Daniel. Boston Globe, March 13, 2007.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Governor Patrick Signs Bill to Dramatically Reform Transportation System: New law will put an end to big dig culture, abolish the turnpike and help secure the commonwealth’s economic future". Press Release (Office of the Governor of Massachusetts). June 26, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009: An Act Modernizing the Transportation Systems of the Commonwealth". Session Laws 2009. General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. June 29, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  19. ^ Bierman, Noah (January 15, 2009). "Senate roadway plan avoids tax or toll hike: Critics say concept ignores cash need". Boston Globe. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  20. ^ Viser, Matt; Noah Bierman (June 18, 2009). "Legislature approves transportation bill despite union concerns". Boston Globe. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  21. ^ Brownsberger, Will; State Representative, 24th Middlesex District (June 18, 2009). "Transportation Reform Enacted". Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Famous Firsts in Massachusetts". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  23. ^ Boston's Green Line Crisis
  24. ^ "T expansion on wrong track". The Boston Globe. May 24, 2006. 
  25. ^ Legislators, Advocacy Groups and T Riders Call for MBTA Debt Relief - MASSPIRG
  26. ^ [2]
  27. ^ [3]
  28. ^ Boston Globe, May 29, 2008, "Fatal Crash On Green Line", pp. A1,A18.
  29. ^ "Trolley Driver Was Texting Girlfriend At Time Of Crash: 46 Injured In Green Line Crash", WCVB, Boston, May 8, 2009.
  30. ^ "Trolley Crash Inspires Tougher Cell Phone Policy: NTSB Still Investigating Crash", WCVB, May 9, 2009
  31. ^ "Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, Regional Transit Authorities Coordination and Efficiencies Report" (PDF). Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  32. ^ a b > Fare and Pass Information for Subway Service
  33. ^ MBTA > Schedules & Maps > Private Bus
  34. ^ Power System of Boston’s Rapid Transit -- Its Development, Historic Significance and Contributions, by Gilmore Cooke: IEEE Milestone Presentation
  35. ^ a b c d e Journey to 2030. Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization. May 2007. Chapter 2, p. 2-8. Refers to: MBTA, "Ridership and Service Statistics," Tenth Edition, 2006.
  36. ^ Cambridge Seven Associates Website
  37. ^ here we go. The Red Line connection is at JFK/UMass, the Orange Line at Wellington (last used ca. 1981), and the Green Line at Riverside. Trucks may also be used to deliver train cars from the manufacturer. [4]
  38. ^
  39. ^ Dukakis, Michael S.; Stephen F. Lynch, Martin T. Meehan, Robert B. O'Brien, John A. Businger, et al. (October 10, 2006). "An Integrated Rail Network for New England". Association for Public Transportation. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  40. ^ Arena, Richard J. (September 17, 2007). "Letter to Mr. Bernard Cohen, Secretary of Transportation & Construction, Commonwealth of Massachusetts". Association for Public Transportation, Inc.. Retrieved July 18, 2009.  Letter subject: May 2007 Report by Citizens Advisory Committee for the North/South Rail Link Project
  41. ^ [5]
  42. ^
  43. ^ a b
  44. ^ Paratransit Dispatches in Massachusetts, Executive Office of Transportation (EOT)
  45. ^ Greater Lynn Senior Services
  46. ^ Veterans Transportation LLC
  47. ^ TTI/YCN Joint Venture, LLC (A joint venture of TTI and YCN)
  48. ^ MBTA Press Release, November 19, 2007
  49. ^ MBTA Pay By Phone FAQs
  50. ^ MBTA Pay-By-Phone website
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ Scheidt and Bachmann (S&B)
  54. ^ Gemalto Press Release: Gemalto to Provide 3.5 Million Transit Payment Devices to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
  55. ^ G&D Delivers Next Generation CharlieCard to MBTA, Reuters News
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^ "Chapter 5C System Expansion" (PDF). MBTA Program for Mass Transportation. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  59. ^ Blue Line Rolling into Lynn by Thor Jourgensen. Lynn Office of Economic and Community Development. 10 March 2005.
  60. ^ "Red Line Blue Line Connector". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  61. ^ "Red Line Blue Line Connector Factsheet". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  62. ^ "State agrees to design link between Red and Blue lines". The Boston Globe. November 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  63. ^ Boston Globe article - Potential Green Line stops announced. May 7, 2008
  64. ^ Appendix, tables C-10 and C-11.
  65. ^ Arborway public transit meetings to begin | Jamaica Plain Gazette
  66. ^ "MBTA votes keep Somerville transit projects on track". Somerville Journal. February 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-08. 
  67. ^ MBTA plan way off track, by Brian McGrory, July 15, 2005, The Boston Globe
  68. ^ Officials endorse Silver Line tunnel - Some neighbors object to route, by Mac Daniel, March 10, 2006, The Boston Globe
  69. ^ - Local news and entertainment for Boston's Historic South End
  70. ^ MBTA Transit Projects: Silver Line Phase 3
  71. ^ a b Sempra Energy
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^
  76. ^ Deal expected to boost commuter rail service, The Boston Globe, September 24, 2009
  77. ^ [6]
  78. ^
  79. ^
  80. ^
  81. ^
  82. ^ MBTA > About the MBTA > Transit Projects
  83. ^ Draft 2008-2013 MBTA Capital Improvement Plan, p. 128.
  84. ^ 2004 MBTA Program for Mass Transportation, Appendix, Table C-15.
  85. ^
  86. ^
  87. ^ MBTA Board of Directors
  88. ^
  89. ^ MBTA Independent Review 11 09. MBTA. 2009. 
  90. ^ MBTA Bus Improvement Program Complete: MBTA Press release, May 11, 2009
  91. ^ Q&A on parking rates increase Accessed 2009-07-10
  92. ^ "MBTA: No Fare Hikes Until At Least 2010". WBZ TV. CBS Broadcasting Inc.. 03-06-2008. 2.670765,. Retrieved 11-03-2009. [dead link]
  93. ^ Proposed MBTA fare increase/service reductions Accessed 2009-09-10
  94. ^ T Rider's Union, Bus Marathon (April 18, 2006).
  95. ^ "Fed Up". Boston Phoenix, January 19–25, 2007, p17.
  96. ^ Tang, Lai-Yan. "Lights out for MBTA Night Owl bus routes". The Heights, March 17, 2005. Accessed 8 October 2009.

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