A beginner’s guide to public transport

Knowing how to navigate Boston’s public transportation system is always the hardest part of visiting the city, especially for the first time. The Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority’s subway and bus system, or the “T” as locals call it, is the most common way to get around Boston, so it’s essential to know how it works. Being quite small, one can explore the tourist destinations of Boston by simply walking around. But by using the T, one can visit the city’s most iconic attractions in the most convenient and affordable way. Traveling to Boston? Here’s a beginner-friendly guide to its transit system.

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About the Boston Subway System

With a long and incredible history dating back to 1897, Boston’s subway and bus system is the oldest in the country. That’s why tourists will find it a bit shabby compared to new metro systems in other cities. The Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority (MTBA) is in charge of maintaining the entire system. Either way, getting around town using the T is still a lot of fun. The MBTA includes river shuttles, buses, commuter trains and the subway. There are payment options for getting around town, but CharlieCard, a contactless smart card, is the most common. The metro consists of five lines, including Green; composed of four branches, red; composed of two branches, blue, orange and silver. Opening hours depend on the line and station used.


  • General opening hours: 5:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Reasons to use the Boston subway to get around

  • This is the easiest way to access most of the city’s tourist attractions.
  • It reduces travel costs by hundreds of dollars. Using the metro system helps visitors avoid the hassle and expense of driving around the city.
  • The metro system is faster than traveling by car.
  • From Logan Airport, the T is the most affordable and quickest way to get into town.

Passes and costs

There are two main passages in the metro; CharlieCard and CharlieTicket. The cost of transport services depends on the pass used. CharlieCard offers one-way discounts and is suitable for people who plan to use the local bus or train more frequently. CharlieTicket for the local bus costs around $2 and $2.75 for the metro. CharlieTicket is the most convenient for travelers, not only because they are available at any station, but one can also load them with as much money as they want. These passes do not offer visitor discounts, but they are the safest option and are also valid on ferries and commuter trains.


You can also use the unlimited pass, which works on both buses and trains. The system offers unlimited monthly passes for travelers extending their stay in the city. There are people allowed to take the subway for free; children under 11 travel with adults. Firefighters, police officers, military personnel and government officials are also allowed to ride the subway for free. Seniors and students are entitled to a reduction in transport costs on the metro.

  • The cost of a 1 day pass: is $12.75
  • The price of a 7-day pass: $22.50
  • The price of a 1 month pass: $90

LinkPass is not used as a separate pass. Instead, it’s an added value to CharlieTicket or CharlieCard.

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Buy passes for metro trains and buses

Travelers can purchase MBTA bus and train passes online or at any station in the city. Where to buy them?

  • ATMs: All Boston Subway and Union Commuter Rail stations have ticket vending machines. Visitors can purchase or renew their tickets and passes at these stations using their credit/debit card or cash. However, most ATMs are marked as not accepting cash.
  • On line: One can create a MyCharlie account online and add passes or cash value to the existing or newly created account.
  • Retail outlets: These are stores where travelers can buy CharlieCards and top them up with cash or add them to an already existing card or CharlieTicket.


Tips for getting around Boston via the subway system

  • Prepare well for delays, usually in winter. Bad weather can interfere with public transport. One must prepare well enough to deal with the crowds resulting from such delays.
  • Use the MBTA Bus app or MBTA-approved Transit app know when buses and trains leave and arrive. While Boston’s subway system has improved its services by providing wait time updates for buses and trains, it’s also important to have these apps, just in case.
  • To plan know which means of transport will be the best option.
  • Compare MBTA Passes before buying to save cost.

Although Boston’s subway system offers travelers the cheapest and most convenient way to explore the sights of the city, they should make sure they plan to know the essentials before heading into the city. .

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