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Public Transportation in Boston

Learning how to get around using public transportation in Boston is an important step in adjusting to life in Boston. In this article, we cover the local public transportation options.
|-Public Transportation in Boston

Public transportation in Boston, Massachusetts is diverse and extensive, making it possible for residents and visitors to navigate the city without the need for a personal vehicle. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), locally known as the “T”, operates the subway, bus, and ferry systems, while the Commuter Rail connects Boston with its suburbs. Additionally, there are numerous bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly streets for those who prefer to travel on foot or by bicycle. With this wide array of options, an expat living in Boston could comfortably live without a car, relying on the public transportation system and walking.


The subway system in Boston, also known as the “T”, is the fourth busiest in the United States. It consists of four lines: Red, Orange, Blue, and Green. The subway is generally safe to use, even at night, with regular patrols by the Transit Police. However, like any large city, it’s always advisable to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. The cost of a one-way ticket is $2.75, but frequent riders can save money with a monthly pass for $90. The subway covers a large portion of the city and its suburbs, making it a convenient option for daily commuting. For example, the Red Line connects Cambridge and Quincy, while the Green Line serves the areas around Boston University and Fenway Park.


The MBTA operates over 170 bus routes throughout Boston and its suburbs. Buses are a great way to reach destinations not served by the subway, and they often provide a more scenic view of the city. The bus system is generally safe, but it’s always a good idea to travel in groups or stay near the driver during late-night hours. The fare is $2.00 with a CharlieCard or $2.75 with cash. Some popular bus routes include the 1 Bus, which travels along Massachusetts Avenue, and the 66 Bus, which connects Harvard Square with Dudley Square.


For a unique and scenic way to travel, the MBTA operates several ferry routes. The ferry is a great way to reach destinations like the Boston Harbor Islands or the North Shore. The fare ranges from $3.70 to $9.75, depending on the route. While the ferry service is not as frequent as the subway or bus, it offers a relaxing and picturesque commute, especially during the warmer months. The ferry is also a safe mode of transportation, with life jackets and safety instructions provided on board.

Commuter Rail

The Commuter Rail is a convenient option for those living in the suburbs of Boston. It operates 12 lines that connect Boston with communities as far as Worcester, Fitchburg, and Newburyport. The fare depends on the distance traveled, ranging from $2.40 to $13.25. The Commuter Rail is generally safe, but it’s always advisable to keep an eye on your belongings and stay aware of your surroundings. For example, the Framingham/Worcester Line is a popular route for those commuting from the western suburbs to downtown Boston.

Biking and Walking

Boston is a compact and walkable city, with many neighborhoods easily accessible on foot. The city also has an extensive network of bike lanes, and the Bluebikes bike-sharing program makes it easy to rent a bike for a quick trip. Walking and biking are not only healthy and environmentally friendly ways to get around, but they also allow you to experience the city’s historic charm and vibrant street life up close. However, it’s important to stay safe by following traffic rules and being aware of your surroundings, especially during the busy rush hour periods.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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