Much of the pleasure of visiting Boston comes from being in a city that was built long before cars were invented. Walking around it can be a joy; conversely, driving is an absolute nightmare. The freeways won't take you where you want to go, the one-way traffic systems can have you circling for hours, and if you ever do arrive, parking lots are thin on the ground and very expensive. There's no point renting a car in Boston until the day you leave, especially since the city's public transportation is so good and the local drivers so bad.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, known as the "
") is responsible for Boston's
. The subway, which opened in 1897, is the oldest in the US; its first station,
, remains its center (any train marked "inbound" is headed here), and is the place to pick up all schedules and information. Four lines - Red, Green, Blue and Orange - operate daily from 5am until 1am, although certain routes begin to shut down earlier. Away from downtown, the trains emerge from tunnels to run along the city's major arteries. Though maps are posted at each station, it's a good idea to pick up the widely available Rapid Transit maps for reference. Trains are fast and safe; only some parts of the Orange line might be said to be unsafe after dark.
Within the city, the standard fare is $1, paid with tokens inserted into turnstiles, but on some incoming aboveground routes you have to pay extra, up to $2.75 (conversely, some outbound aboveground routes are free). You can buy eleven tokens for the price of ten, and a
Boston Visitor Pass
covers all subway and local bus journeys at a cost of $6 for a day, $11 for three days, or $22 for a week. (For MBTA
call 617/222-3200 or 1-800/392-6100 or visit
The normal fare on MBTA's
is 75?, but longer distances, such as out to Salem or Marblehead, cost up to $2.75. MBTA also runs
commuter rail lines
, extending as far as Salem, Ipswich and Concord; these are based at the unlovely
(tel 617/222-3200) on Causeway Street, under the Fleet Center.
In and around Boston are some eighty miles of
, making it an excellent city to explore on two wheels. Bicycles can be rented from the Community Bike Shop at 490 Tremont St (tel 617/542-8623) and Back Bay Bikes & Boards, 333 Newbury St (tel 617/247-2336), from mid-March through mid-October. Rentals are around $10 for two hours; $20-25 per day.
Other useful information
for tourists (each section contains more specific sub-sections):