Monday, September 10, 2012

Back in Boston: an MBTA Student Guide

September 1st has come and gone, which means nearly 150,000 college students are back in Boston for the start of a new school year. That is why I have decided to created the Official Students Guide to the MBTA.

If you are a new student that is struggling to find your way around the city or if you are a returning student that is still unsure of what and where Wonderland is, then this guide is for you.

Courtesy: MBTA

The MBTA consists of  3 rapid transit lines, 1 light rail line, and 1 Bus Rapid Transit line which all operate within the city:

Rapid Transit (Subway):
     Red Line (Alewife - Ashmont/Braintree)
     Blue Line (Wonderland - Bowdoin)
     Orange Line (Oak Grove - Forest Hills)
Light Rail (Subway/Street Car):
     Green Line (Lechmere - BC/Cleveland Circle/Riverside/Heath St)

Bus Rapid Transit (Bus)
      Silver Line (Airport-South Station- Dudly Square)

The MBTA also operates an extensive Commuter Rail network that runs out into the suburbs of Massachusetts and Rhode Island including Lowell, Providence, Worcester, and Fitchburg.

Fares and Passes:

Most students who live in the city believe that having a credit card is one of the most valuable things they can have in their possession. Personally I feel that my Charlie Card is much more valuable than my credit card. The first thing you should do as a student in the city of Boston is pick up a Charlie Card. Not only are the fares cheaper when using a Charlie Card  but you can also find some good discounts when you show your card at different retailers. Download the Charlie Card Discount Book HERE.

The cards can be picked up at just about any station in the system that is manned by MBTA personnel or you can grab one at the Charlie Card Store in Downtown Crossing Station.

Fare breakdown:

Subway : $2.00 with Charlie Card and $2.50 with cash or Charlie Ticket.

Bus : $1.50 with Charlie Car and $2.00 with cash or Charlie Ticket.

Commuter Rail:

How to get to different Colleges on the T:

It took me quite a while to figure out where each college was in the city and how I could use public transit to get there. Here is a full list of Colleges and Universities in the city and how you can get to them by way of the MBTA.

Berklee College of Music: Green Line to Hynes Convention Center Station or Green Line "E" to Symphony Hall Station.

Boston CollegeGreen Line 'B' to Boston College Station

Boston University: Green Line 'B' to Blandford St, BU East, Central, West, and St. Paul St. Station

Bunker Hill Community CollegeOrange Line to Community College Station

Emerson College: Green Line to Boylston Station

Harvard University: Red Line to Harvard Station

MassArt: Green Line 'E' to Longwood Station

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy: Green Line 'E' to Longwood Station

M. I. T. : Red Line to Kendall/MIT Station

Northeastern UniversityOrange Line to Ruggles Station or Green Line 'E' to Northeastern Station.

Simmons College: Green Line 'E' to Museum of Fine Arts Station.

Suffolk UniversityRed or Green line to Park Street Station

Tufts University: Red Line to Davis Square Station

Umass Boston: Red Line to JFK/Umass Station

Wentworth Institute of Technology: Green Line 'E' to Museum of Fine Arts Station.

Colleges of the Fenway (Wheelock, Emanuel): Green Line 'D' to Fenway Station.


Most students who have just moved into a dorm or a new apartment may still need to go out and by a few things to help furnish their space. This can be frustrating in the city because you have to travel outside of it in order to get to your big box stores.


Whole Foods Market:  Fenway Location: Green Line 'E' to Symphony Hall Station
                                    Beacon Hill Location:  Red Line to Charles/MGH Station

Shaws and Star Market: Prudential Location: Green Line 'E' to Prudential Station
                                       Fenway Location: Green Line 'D' to Fenway Station
                                       CambridgeLocation: Red Line to Central Square Station.
                                       Somerville Location: Red Line to Porter Square Station.
                                       Allston Location: Green Line to Packard's Corner Station.
Trader Joes: Boylston St. Location: Green Line to Hynes Convention Center Station
                    Coolidge Corner Location: Green Line 'C' to Coolidge Corner Station
Stop and ShopRed Line to Andrew Station

Home Furnishing/Electronics:

TargetRed Line to Andrew Station

Bed Bath and Beyond: South Bay Location: Red Line to Andrew Station
                                        Fenway Location: Green Line 'D' to Fenway Station

Best Buy: Green Line 'D' to Fenway Station

The Home DepotRed Line to Andrew Station

Staples: Downtown Location: Green Line to Government Center Station
              Fenway Location: Green Line "D" to Fenway Station
              Harvard Square Location: Red Line to Harvard Square Station.
              Allston Location: Green Line 'B' to Harvard Ave Station.


  1. Neat post! Never having lived in Boston, I had no idea how to get to half these schools, nor where to find the big-box retailers that I'm so used to out here.

    One correction though: Your MBTA map was not made by the T nor is it official. It was designed by an Australian graphic designer and map enthusiast named Cameron Booth as a total reworking of the disaster that is the official map.

  2. Thanks Tyler! I will make that correction right now. Glad you like the post!

  3. For folks closer to Cambridge/Somerville than Fenway, it's probably worth mentioning that Shaw's/Star has locations at Porter and Central, and Staples has a location in Harvard.

    1. Thanks Codeman38! I have added the Shaw's and Staples locations to the lists. I want this guide to be a collaboration so please feel free to send any more feedback!

  4. Shaws also has a location at packard's corner(allston, B Line) and staples at Harvard ave/Comm ave. (B Line), Trader Joe's at coolidge corner(C Line)

    1. Thanks for the feedback Nathaniel! I will be sure to add those locations to the list!

  5. Lovely guide, but anyone attempting to get to Boston College is well-advised to stay clear of the B-line (strange as it may seem). BC runs a shuttle service from Reservoir station (D line; right next to Cleveland Circle), which runs directly onto campus.

  6. I would add the Whole Foods and Trader Joe's near Alewife, and Tags (housewares and hardware) at Porter.

  7. Where can I find MBTA passes near harvard avenue station

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