- Boston transportation
The Boston transportation system includes roadway, rail, air, and sea options for passenger and freight transit. The
Massachusetts Port Authority(Massport) operates the Port of Boston, which includes a container shipping facility in South Boston, and Logan International Airportin East Boston. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority(MBTA) operates bus, subway, short distance rail, and water ferry passenger services throughout the city and region. Amtrakoperates passenger rail service to and from major north-eastern cities. A major bus terminal at South Stationis served by varied intercity bus companies. The city is bisected by major highways, I-90and I-93, the intersection of which has recently undergone a major renovation, nicknamed the Big Dig.
Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge (now complete) over the
Charles River. The elevated Central Artery, on the right, has since been demolished.] The streets of Boston, Massachusettsmay seem as though they were not planned—a common fiction is that they evolved from old cowpaths—but in the 17th century they avoided swamps and marshes and followed shorelines before the original peninsula comprising the city was expanded with landfill in the 19th century. Except for the Back Bay and part of South Boston, Boston has no street grid, which is confusing for nonresident drivers. Roads change names and lose and add lanes seemingly at random, and many drivers are flummoxed by rotaries.
Expressways and major arterial roads in and around Boston are laid out with two circumferential expressways: Interstate 495 and Route 128. The circumferential routes are bisected by several radial highways that were planned to start in downtown Boston and proceed outward from the city. In reality, the
Central Arterywas the only one of these radial expressways that was fully completed. The freeway revoltprompted the governor of Massachusetts to halt construction on all remaining expressways within the Route 128 beltway in the early 1970s in lieu of light rail/subway lines to serve areas through which the radial expressways were planned.
By the early 1990s traffic on the elevated artery was 190,000 vehicles per day, with an accident rate four times the national average for urban interstates. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper for six to eight hours per day, with projections of traffic jams doubling by 2010. Plus, the elevated structure itself was decaying.
For most of the 1990s and early 2000s, driving in Boston was disrupted by the Big Dig, the most expensive (roughly $14 billion) road project in the history of the
Walking and bicycling
Boston is known to travel agents as "America's Walking City". Boston is a compact city, sized right for walking or bicycling and according to a "Prevention" magazine report in 2003, the city has the highest percentage of on-foot commuters of any city in the United States. In 2000, 13.36% of Boston commuters walked to work according to the US Census. This was the highest of any major US city, but bested by college towns such as nearby Cambridge. Most of the area's cities and towns have standing committees devoted to improvements to the bicycle and pedestrian environment.
Cycling is popular in Boston, for both recreation and commuting. Bicycle paths are marked on some roadways, and several separated paths are available to cyclists. The
Minuteman Bikeway(which runs though several suburbs of Boston) and Charles Riverbike paths are popular with recreational cyclists and tourists. The Southwest Corridoralso provides cycling infrastructure. [ [http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/metroboston/southwestCorr.htm DCR web page.] ] Many MBTA riders use a bicycle to get to the station [cite web | url =http://usingbicycles.blogspot.com/2008/04/mixed-mode-commuting-in-boston.html | title = Mixed-Mode Commuting in Boston | work = Using Bicycles | author = Sherwood Stranieri | date = 2008-04-25 | access date = 2008-04-26 ] .
However "Bicycling magazine", in its March 2006 issue, named the city as one of its three worst cities for cycling. The distinction was earned for roads that are in terrible shape, few bike lanes that are disconnected, and a city government that makes pro-bike gestures, then rescinds them, such as hiring a bike coordinator, then eliminating the position after only two years. Neighboring Cambridge earned an honorable mention as one of the best cities for cycling with a population of 75,000-200,000. Boston has an active
Critical Massride and MassBikeis a bike advocacy group active in supporting cyclists in the area.cite web | title = Urban Treasures | url = http://www.bicycling.com/article/1,6610,s1-2-16-14593-1-P,00.html | publisher = Bicycling Magazine | accessdate = 2008-06-16] cite web | url = http://massbike.org/ | title = MassBike: The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition | publisher = MassBike: The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition | accessdate = 2008-06-09]
The MBTA bus system operates 162
busroutes within the Greater Boston area with acombined ridership of approximately 375,000 one-way trips per day. Included within the MBTA system are four of the few remaining trolleybuslines in the U.S. (71, 72, 73 and 77a), although these principally operate in the adjoining city of Cambridge. The basic bus fare is $1.25; monthly commuter passes are available, as are transfers between some bus lines and the subway.
In an effort to provide service intermediate in speed and capacity between subways and buses, the MBTA has begun projects using the
Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, system. The MBTA has one BRT line, the Silver Line, although this operates in two discontinuous sections. The Silver Line operates in part in a dedicated trolleybus tunnel, in part in on-street bus lanes, and in part in general street traffic. Service through the trolleybus tunnel is by hybrid trolleybus, which operate off diesel power for the rest of the route.
In addition to local bus service and BRT,
South Stationis a major bus depot for inter-city travel. Many bus lines such as Greyhound and Peter Pan operate from the station. BoltBusand Megabusboth provide low-cost bus service between Boston and their New York hubs.
Several companies operate
tourist trolleys on hop-on/hop-off tours of Boston. Other companies operate duck tours that use amphibious vehicles, mostly derived from World War IIera DUKWs, and encompass both the city's streets and its waterways.
Automobile parking was not a particular concern of Boston's first settlers. The city that sprung up accommodates cars only awkwardly; parking comes at a premium throughout the city. Off-street parking spaces have sold for more than $160,000 in Beacon Hill. [ [http://www.boston.com/realestate/communities/profiles/2002/boston_beacon_hill.html Alice Giordano, "On Beacon Hill, square footage is a big topic," "Boston Globe" (Mar. 2, 2002)] ] Understandably, on-street parking is the norm in many sections, and the city created a resident permit parking program to reserve street space for permanent residents. The cost to obtain a permit is extremely low, however, and the program is overused; permitted spaces remain scarce. [ [http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/08/22/is_parking_too_cheap/ Sean Roche, "Is parking too cheap?", "Boston Globe" (Aug. 22, 2007)] ] Meters city-wide are priced at $1 per hour, and thus metered spaces also often are difficult to find.
The number of public parking spaces downtown has been capped since the mid-1970s. [ [http://www.cityofboston.gov/environment/sbf.asp City of Boston information on parking freezes.] ] The number of parking spaces in East and South Boston, and the hours that they may be used, also is restricted by state regulation. This is part of the state Department of Environmental Protection's plan, approved by the
United States Environmental Protection Agencyto address the non-compliance of the region with the mandatory National Ambient Air Quality Standardsfor ozone. [ [http://www.epa.gov/region1/topics/air/sips/sips_ma.html EPA-Approved MA Regulations | State Implementation Plans (SIPs) | Topics | New England | US EPA ] ]
The MBTA operates several large
park and ridefacilities on its subway and commuter rail lines, close to major highways, providing access to downtown. While most of these tend to fill up with commuters on weekday mornings, they provide a good place for visitors to leave their cars and see the city without parking hassles on evenings and weekends.
Boston has two discrete rail networks. One of these is normally called the subway, although it also runs at and above surface level, and includes elements of
light railand streetcaroperation as well as traditional subway technology. The second network forms the Boston area portion of the national common user railroad network, and is used to provides commuter rail, intercity passenger rail and freight rail services.
Although the two networks are essentially unconnected, they do in some places run alongside each other in the same reservation. Interchange stations allow interchange of passengers, but not trains, between subway and commuter rail services. Parts of the subway network also use former common user rail rights of way.
Boston has the oldest subway system in North America, with the first underground streetcar traffic dating back to 1897. Today the whole subway network is owned and operated by the MBTA.
In the early 1960s, the then new MBTA hired
Cambridge Seven Associatesto help develop a new identity. Cambridge Seven came up with a circled T to represent such concepts as "transit", "transportation" and "tunnel." Today, Bostonians call their rapid transit network "the T" and its subway is the fourth busiest in the country, with daily ridership of 549,000 trips excluding the Silver Line bus, [American Public Transportation Association, [http://www.apta.com/research/stats/ridership/riderep/documents/07q1hr.pdf Heavy Rail Transit Ridership Report] , First Quarter 2007.] which compares with the Washington Metrorail's 910,100, the Chicago L's 596,300, and Los Angeles's 126,900, though is dwarfed like the rest by New York City's 6.0 million average daily weekday trips taken.
The basic one-way fare is $1.70 (or $2.00 if paid cash). Monthly commuter passes and day and week visitor's passes are available. There are four subway lines in the metropolitan Boston area: the Red Line, Green Line, Orange Line, and Blue Line. The colors of each line have a meaning: the Blue Line runs along the ocean; the Red Line used to terminate at
Harvard University(whose school color is crimson); the Orange Line used to run along Washington Street, which was once called Orange Street; and The Green Line runs into the leafy suburbs of Brookline and Newton.
The Green Line is actually four different lines; it starts as one and about halfway through the system it splits into four different branches, the B (Boston College), C (Cleveland Circle), D (Riverside) and E (Heath Street) trains. Because the split is only present on the outbound end of the line one may take any train inbound, but when going outbound one must be careful of which train one gets on or else one will end up in a very different place. The Red Line splits as well, with southbound trains going either to Braintree or Ashmont.
Though most of Boston's
rapid transitnetwork is powered via third rail, significant portions of the Blue Line, as well as all of the Green Line and the Mattapan High Speed Line are powered by overhead lines. The name "subway" is something of a misnomer, as with other systems, large segments run above ground when far from the city's downtown. Additionally, the Green Line and Mattapan High Speed Lines are technically light-railservices, using trolley cars rather than the typical multiple unittrains. The Mattapan line uses refurbished pre-war "PCC" trolleys; the Green Line relies on more modern LRVcars from Japan and Italy.
New York City subway, Boston's subway system does keep to an exact fixed schedule (unlike the Tokyo subway) and it has no mechanism in place to inform customers of current train locations or estimated times until arrivals (unlike the Washington Metro).
Despite the first section being built underground, many later parts were built as
elevated railways. The only old-style elevated remaining is the Red Line at Charles-MGH, between the tunnel under Beacon Hill and the Longfellow Bridge. Until 2004, the Green Line was elevated near North Station; the tunnel to replace it opened in the summer of 2004. The part north of there will remain elevated and runs along a concrete arch bridge.
Boston Elevated Railwaywas the company that owned all the elevateds and subways. The following els once existed:
Causeway Street Elevated(closed 2004), from the Haymarket Inclineto the Lechmere Viaduct
Washington Street Elevated(closed 1987), from Forest Hills to an incline north of the Masspike
Charlestown Elevated(closed April 4, 1975), from the Haymarket Inclineto Everett
Atlantic Avenue Elevated(closed 1938), from the Washington Street El at the Castle Street Wyeat Herald Street (Tower 'D') to the Charlestown El and Causeway Street El at North Station(Tower 'C')
Common user rail network
Unlike the subway, which is owned and operated by the MBTA, the common user network is owned and operated by a mixture of various public and private sector bodies. In the Boston area, trackage is owned by a mixture of the MBTA and several freight railroads. Commuter rail services are operated by the
Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company(MBCR) under contract to the MBTA, intercity passenger services are operated by Amtrak, and freight services are operated by the various freight railroads. Trackage rightsallow trains of one operator to make use of tracks owned by another.cite book | publisher = Steam Powered Publishing | title = Comprehensive Railroad Atlas: New England & Maritime Canada | isbn = 1874745129 | date = 1999 ]
MBTA Commuter Railsystem, sometimes known as the Purple Line, brings people from as far away as Worcester and Providence, Rhode Islandinto Boston. There are approximately 125,000 one-way trips on the commuter rail each day.
There are two major
rail terminals in Boston: North Stationand South Station. Commuter rail lines from the North Shore and northwestern suburbs begin and terminate at North Station; lines from the South Shore and the west start and end at South Station. There is no direct rail connection between North Station and South Station and interchange between the two stations requires the use of two different subway lines (Red/Orange or Red/Green), although passengers on commuter lines serving Back Bay Station can interchange directly from there to North Station using the Orange line. A North-South Rail Linkhas been proposed to allow commuter trains to serve both North and South stations, but there are no definite plans to build this.
Boston is served by four intercity rail services, all operated by
Amtrak. The Acela Expressand Northeast Regional services both operate on the Northeast Corridorto and from New York Cityand Washington. A branch of the Lake Shore Limitedservice operates to and from Chicago. The Downeasterservice operates to and from Portland, Maine.cite web | title = Routes - Northeast | url = http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/Page/Browse_Routes_Page&c=Page&cid=1081256321410&ssid=134 | publisher = Amtrak | accessdate = 2008-06-13]
The Northeast Corridor services terminate at South Station, as does the Lake Shore Limited. The Downeaster service terminates at North Station. The Northeast Corridor and Lake Shore Limited services also stop at Back Bay Station. The lack of a direct rail connection between North Station and South Station means that passengers transferring to and from the Downeaster are also faced by a transfer between stations. Although most such transfers can be achieved using the Orange Line between Back Bay and North Station, Amtrak recommends passengers with luggage to use a taxi.cite web | title = Routes - Northeast | url = http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/Page/Browse_Routes_Page&c=Page&cid=1081256321410&ssid=134 | publisher = Amtrak | accessdate = 2008-06-13] cite web | title = Routes - Northeast - Downeaster | url = http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Route/Vertical_Route_Page&c=am2Route&cid=1081256321869&ssid=134 | publisher = Amtrak | accessdate = 2008-06-13]
Within the Boston area, most Amtrak services operate over commuter rail track owned by the MBTA, who also own the Northeast Corridor track as far as the
Rhode Islandstate line.cite book | publisher = Steam Powered Publishing | title = Comprehensive Railroad Atlas: New England & Maritime Canada | isbn = 1874745129 | date = 1999 ]
CSX is the only
class I railroadserving the Boston area, which it reaches by its Boston Subdivisionline to Springfield, and by trackage rightsover the Northeast Corridor. CSX also has trackage rights over much of the southern half of the MBTA's commuter rail network. CSX's principal rail freight facility is located in Allston in west Boston. cite book | publisher = Steam Powered Publishing | title = Comprehensive Railroad Atlas: New England & Maritime Canada | isbn = 1874745129 | date = 1999 ]
The only other significant freight railroad in the Boston area is
Pan Am Railways(PAR; formerly known as the Guilford Rail System). PAR is a class II railroadthat operates lines to the north and west of Boston, reaching destinations in New Hampshire, Maineand New Yorkas well as Massachusetts. It also has trackage rights over much of the northern half of the MBTA's commuter rail network. In May 2008, PAR announced a venture with Norfolk Southern Railwayto create a jointly owned freight corridor, to be known as the Patriot Corridor, linking Boston to Albany, New York.cite book | publisher = Steam Powered Publishing | title = Comprehensive Railroad Atlas: New England & Maritime Canada | isbn = 1874745129 | date = 1999 ] cite web | publisher = Norfolk Southern Corp. | url = http://www.nscorp.com/nscportal/nscorp/Media/News%20Releases/2008/news051508_2.html | title = Pan Am Railways and Norfolk Southern Create the Patriot Corridor to Improve Rail Service and Expand Capacity in New York and New England | date = 2008-05-15 | accessdate = 2008-06-09]
Port of Boston
The Port of Boston is a major
seaportand the largest port in Massachusetts. It was historically important for the growth of the city, and was originally located in what is now the downtown area of the city. Land reclamation and conversion to other uses means that downtown area no longer handles commercial traffic, although the US Coast Guard maintains a major base there, and there is still considerable ferry and leisure usage.
Today the principal cargo handling facilities are located in the Boston neighborhoods of Charlestown,
East Boston, and South Boston, and in the neighbouring city of Everett. In 2006, the port handled over 14 million metric tons of cargo, including 201,000 container TEUs. Other major forms of cargo processed at the port include petroleum, liquefied natural gas(LNG), automobiles, cement, gypsum, and salt.cite web | url = http://www.massport.com/ports/about_ports.html | title = MASSPORT - About the Port - Port Stats | publisher = Massachusetts Port Authority | accessmonthday = February 24 | accessyear = 2007]
Black Falcon Cruise Terminal" is situated in South Boston. During 2006 it served about 208,000 cruise shippassengers and there were 81 cruise ship visits that year.cite web | url = http://www.massport.com/ports/about_ports.html | title = MASSPORT - About the Port - Port Stats | publisher = Massachusetts Port Authority | accessmonthday = February 24 | accessyear = 2007] cite web | title = Black Falcon Terminal - Boston's cruise terminal | url = http://www.bostoncruiseguide.com/black-falcon.html | publisher = Boston Cruise Guide | accessdate = 2008-05-08]
Passenger boat services
MBTA boatsystem comprises several ferryroutes on Boston Harbor. One of these is an inner harbor service, linking the downtown waterfront with Boston Navy Yardin Charlestown. The other routes are commuter routes, linking downtown to Hingham, Hull and Quincy. Some commuter services operate via Logan International Airport. All services are operated by private sectorcompanies under contract to the MBTA.
Outside the MBTA system, seasonal passenger ferry services operate to the Boston Harbor Islands, to the city of Salem, and to the city of Provincetown on
Cape Cod. Water taxis provide on-demand service from various points on the downtown waterfront and from Logan Airport, and in particular between the airport and downtown.
Several companies operate tourist oriented cruise boats on the harbor and on the
Charles River. Other companies operate duck tours that use amphibious vehicles, mostly derived from World War IIera DUKWs, and encompass both the city's streets and its waterways. On a much smaller scale, but perhaps more iconic of Boston, are the Swan Boats on the lake of the city's Public Garden.
Boston's principal airport is
Logan International Airport, situated in East Boston just across inner Boston Harborfrom downtown Boston. Logan Airport is operated by MassPort and has extensive domestic and international airline service. Logan Airport is linked to downtown by several highway tunnels. The Silver Line bus rapid transituses these to connect Logan terminals with South Station. There are also shuttle buses between the terminals and the Blue Line Airport station.
To address overcrowding at Logan Airport, Massport has designated two out of state regional airports as reliever airports: [cite web | url=http://www.massport.com/airports/faq.html#q5 | work=Massport | title=Regional Airports: FAQ | accessdate=2008-03-25]
T. F. Green Airportin Providence, Rhode Island
Manchester-Boston Regional Airportin Manchester, New Hampshire
Massport does not operate these facilities. Train service is planned from T.F. Green to Boston.
There are also several
general aviationfacilities in the Boston area including Hanscom Field, Norwood Memorial Airportand Beverly Municipal Airport. "See also: List of airports in the Boston area".
Since September 11, 2001 attacks to the
World Trade Centerand the Pentagon, exceptionally strict security has been implemented at all of Boston's airports. Because of this and its location as the closest American port to Europe, airliners that experience security breaches or disturbances while enroute to the U.S. are likely to be diverted to Boston, although they may also be diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia, or other Canadian airports.
List of U.S. cities with most pedestrian commuters
Greater Bostonfor a wider scope
* [http://www.car-free.com/carfree/ Car Free in Boston]
* [http://groups-beta.google.com/group/misc.transport.road/messages/c0f7b56afde3738e,9bd97b8b00caa5f8,0002bad2d43ab033,769196816fedffa3,36265cd2618553b3,0ef04cbf9779a310,a9d2990fe8b2070b,c535117554d2069b,77c2ea22b2ffe469,1ce8ef0c86e650c2?thread_id=24b6a6889862a1e2 Chronology of subway construction in Boston]
* [http://www.masspike.com/bigdig/index.html Boston's Big Dig]
* [http://www.mbta.com Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority]
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