Getting around Boston

Public transport

The Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority - MBTA (tel: (617) 222 5000;, operates four subway lines (blue, green, red, orange), which spread out from a central point at Park Street Station, at the northeast corner of Boston Common. The 'T' - as the system is known - began in 1897 and is the oldest in the USA.

MBTA also runs 13 commuter rail lines, three boat services and numerous bus routes. The public buses are cheaper and have more stops than the subway but bus routes can be more difficult to navigate.

The Boston Visitor's Pass is valid for one, three or seven days for travel on the subway, buses, and ferries. You can also pay as you go with a Charlie Card, available free at many 'T' stations.


Taxis are plentiful and can be hailed on the street or reserved by telephone, but they are not cheap. Reliable companies include Bay State Taxi Service (tel: (617) 566 5000), City Cab (tel: (617) 536 5100), Green Cabs (tel: (617) 625 5000) and Metro Cab (tel: (617) 782 5500). Over the river in Cambridge, providers include Ambassador Brattle Cab (tel: (617) 492 1100) and Star Taxi (tel: (617) 876 8888).

An interesting way to get to know the inner city area is to use the water taxis, which run throughout the year both as commuter taxis and as ordinary water buses. City Water Taxi  (tel: (617) 887 0321; operates 10 waterfront stops, seven days a week.


A car is only necessary for locations outside the city as Boston is not on a simple grid plan, curving as it does to accommodate both the Charles River and the coastline. Traffic is congested and parking can be expensive and confusing with many areas having local residents' rules. Much of the central part of Boston was built before cars and so lends itself to exploration on foot, and public transport in and around Boston is good and inexpensive.

Car hire

Car hire companies include Avis (tel: 1 800 331 1212;, Budget (tel: 1 800 527 0700;, Dollar (tel: 1 800 800 3665;, Hertz (tel: 1 800 654 3131; and Thrifty (tel: 1 800 367 2277; Note that most car hire companies require drivers to be over 25 years of age or impose hefty surcharges.

Bicycle hire

Cycling in Boston is not for the faint-hearted. Only brave locals do so. There are scenic cycle paths, however, along the Charles River. Bike hire is available from Back Bay Bicycles, 366 Commonwealth Avenue (tel: (617) 247 2336;