Boston: Transportation

Approaching the City

Visitors arriving in Boston by air arrive at Logan International Airport, located in East Boston just two miles from downtown Boston. Its location in Massachusetts Bay puts Boston's airport 200 miles closer to Europe than New York City. In 2005, Logan was ranked the nation's 19th busiest airport; it is served by 39 airlines. Logan can be reached by car, by public transportation on the "T" Blue Line, and by water aboard the Airport Water Shuttle.

Boston's access routes by automobile include Interstate-90, the Massachusetts Turnpike, which is the major east-west artery. Massachusetts Service Route 9, another east-west road, accommodates suburban traffic. I-93 runs north-south through Boston where it is called the Northeast Expressway. Encircling the city is Massachusetts Service Route 128. More than seven hundred high-technology firms have established facilities along Massachusetts SR 128 and I-495, making them heavily traveled freeways.

Boston can also be reached by railroad and by bus. The city is served by three Amtrak lines: the Downeaster connects Boston with Portland, Maine; the Regional, serving cities along the coast south to Newport News, Virginia.; and the Acela Express, a 150-mph train that makes the trip from Washington, D.C. in 7 hours. South Station and North Station, the Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority terminals, are on opposite sides of Boston's downtown business district. Those arriving by Greyhound/Trailways and Peter Pan Bus Lines disembark at the Greyhound Bus Terminal downtown.

Traveling in the City

Boston is a very walkable city, and walking tours depart from a number of locations. According to local sources, driving in Boston can be a confusing experience even for natives. Heavy traffic, narrow one-way streets, limited parking, traffic rotaries, and jay-walking pedestrians combine to make driving difficult in Boston, especially in the downtown area. Most residents leave their cars at home and ride Boston's superb public transportation, known as the "T." This rapid transit system includes elevated lines, subways, and surface routes. Trolleys, street cars, and buses supplement the "T." Private transportation includes Amtrak commuter trains, taxis, and ferry boats.

The "T" is operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Boston's system is the oldest in the country, and all five lines converge downtown. Boston is one of only five U.S. cities to use trolleys and street cars as a regular part of its transportation system. Amtrak runs two commuter trains from surrounding suburbs into Boston, one of which is operated by the MBTA and is known locally as the "Purple Line." Two ferry systems convey passengers on the rivers and channels around Boston.