Back Bay (MBTA station)
Front entrance, viewed from Dartmouth Street
|Address||145 Dartmouth Street
Boston, MA 02116-5162
|Platforms||1 island platform, 1 side platform (Northeast Corridor)
1 island platform (Orange Line)
1 island platform (Lake Shore Limited)
|Tracks||3 (Northeast Corridor)
2 (Orange Line)
2 (Framingham/Worcester Line)
|Opened||May 4, 1987|
|Station code||BBY (Amtrak)|
|Owned by||Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority|
|Passengers (2009)||16,769 (weekday average boardings)|
|Passengers (2013)||540,770 per year 2.4% (Amtrak)|
Back Bay station is a intercity rail, commuter rail, and rapid transit station located in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. The present building, designed by Kallmann McKinnell & Wood, opened in 1987. It replaced the New Haven Railroad's older Back Bay station - which opened in 1928 as a replacement for an 1899-built station - as well as the New York Central's Huntington Avenue and Trinity Place stations which had been demolished in 1964.
Although South Station is Boston's primary southside rail hub, Back Bay maintains high traffic levels due to its location in the Back Bay near the Prudential Center development and its access to important Northeast Corridor services. All Amtrak Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains running to and from South Station stop at Back Bay, as does the daily Lake Shore Limited long-distance train. Four MBTA Commuter Rail routes - the Providence/Stoughton Line, Franklin Line, Needham Line, and Framingham/Worcester Line - also stop at Back Bay, as do the Orange Line subway and several local MBTA Bus routes.
The Boston and Worcester Railroad opened from downtown Boston to Newton in 1834, and to Worcester within the next several years. The Boston and Providence Railroad opened from Park Square to East Providence later that year. The two lines crossed on causeways in the Back Bay, then still used as a mill pond. In 1880, the Boston and Albany Railroad (descendant of the B&W) opened its Columbus Avenue station to serve new developments on the filled bay. In 1897, the New Haven Railroad (which owned the Boston and Providence and leased the Old Colony Railroad), the New York and New England Railroad, and the Boston and Albany formed the Boston Terminal Company to consolidate their four terminals into a new union station. Simultaneous with the construction of the resulting South Station in 1899, the New Haven also built its first Back Bay Station just east of Dartmouth Street to compete with the B&A's Columbus Avenue station. The next year, the B&A replaced Columbus Avenue with the westbound-only Trinity Place and eastbound-only Huntington Avenue stations.
The current Back Bay Station opened May 4, 1987 as part of the Orange Line's Southwest Corridor project and was dedicated by Governor Michael Dukakis. It replaced the 1899-built and 1929-rebuilt former New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad station of the same name, of which some remnants can still be found at the eastern end of the present station facilities, including a carved stone embedded in the brick wall on the east side of Columbus Avenue. The main station building is located between Dartmouth Street and Clarendon Street; however, there are several additional emergency exits from the Amtrak / commuter rail platforms onto Dartmouth Street, Clarendon Street, and Columbus Avenue. The Dartmouth Street Underpass connects the Copley Place shopping mall with the main station building.
|Ground||Street Level||Exit/Entrance, waiting room, and vendors|
|Platforms||Track 5||← Lake Shore Limited and Framingham/Worcester Line →|
|Island platform, doors will open on the left or right|
|Track 7||← Lake Shore Limited and Framingham/Worcester Line →|
|Southbound||← Orange Line toward Forest Hills (Massachusetts Avenue)|
|Island platform, doors will open on the left|
|Northbound||→ Orange Line toward Oak Grove (Tufts Medical Center) →|
|Track 3||← Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Needham Line, Providence/Stoughton Line, and Franklin Line →|
|Island platform, doors will open on the left, right|
|Track 1||← Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Needham Line, Providence/Stoughton Line, and Franklin Line →|
|Track 2||← Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Needham Line, Providence/Stoughton Line, and Franklin Line →|
|Side platform, doors will open on the left, right|
There are 5 tracks serving Amtrak and commuter rail service. Tracks 2, 1, and 3 (in order south to north) serve Amtrak's Acela Express and Northeast Regional plus the MBTA's Providence/Stoughton Line, Franklin Line, and Needham Line. Tracks 5 and 7 on the Framingham/Worcester Line and the Lake Shore Limited serve westbound trains from a separate island platform. The Orange Line tracks and platforms lie between these two groups of mainline rail tracks.
Because Amtrak's Downeaster trains traveling northeastward to Portland, Maine do not depart at Back Bay or South Station, travelers that wish to make a connection via subway are advised to disembark at this station and take the Orange Line to North Station, which is where Downeaster service originates.
Back Bay is served by three MBTA Bus routes:
- 10 City Point - Copley Square via Andrew Station & B.U. Medical Center
- 39 Back Bay – Forest Hills via Copley Square and Huntington Avenue
- 170 Central Square, Waltham - Dudley Square (limited early-morning service)
- Back Bay Station is wheelchair accessible.
- Back Bay Station has full-length high-level platforms for Amtrak Northeast Corridor and MBTA Attleboro/Providence trains, but only a short high-level platform for MBTA Framingham/Worcester and Amtrak trains to Chicago (which operate on tracks other than those used by the Northeast Corridor service).
- Other Amtrak stations on the Northeast Corridor are generally accessible.
- Some MBTA commuter rail stations have no wheelchair access; many of those that do, have short high-level platforms that only serve one or two cars.
Back Bay Station has suffered for some time from poor air quality, and people with lung conditions have been advised to avoid the station. A study conducted in 2006 and again in 2008 showed that "The air was many, many times below air-quality standards," due to trapped diesel exhaust and soot. Much of the commuter rail platforms at Back Bay are covered and enclosed, and so fumes cannot escape quickly to the outside air. An earlier study showed elevated levels of carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, particulates, and oxides of nitrogen, though it noted that there is no regulated standard to meet for indoor air quality in public spaces. Though simple changes were made regarding scheduling, and checking to make sure train engines were running properly, an MBTA spokesman stated that the MBTA did not have the financial resources to upgrade the ventilation system.
In 2010, the MBTA announced that it had secured $3.0 million to improve the ventilation in the lobby as a result of federal stimulus money. While MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said there was no health threat, a scientist at the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based nonprofit pollution research group stated, "Honestly, down on the platform it was some of the worst air quality I’ve measured." Additionally passengers and clerks working in the station have complained. The MBTA says it will complete an improved ventilation system by 2012.
Accidents and incidents
In 1990, a northbound commuter train running along the Providence/Stoughton Line was involved in a collision with a northbound Night Owl train. The accident, which occurred to the west of the Back Bay station injured over four hundred people, although there were no fatalities.
Station facade with John Hancock Tower behind
- "Ridership and Service Statistics". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2013, Commonwealth of Massachusetts" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1842). "Boston 1842". Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- Humphrey, Thomas J. and Clark, Norton D. (1985). Boston's Commuter Rail: The First 150 Years. Boston Street Railway Association. p. 22. ISBN 9780685412947.
- "Boston-Back Bay, MA". Great American Stations. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- Existing Railroad Stations in Suffolk County, Massachusetts
- Roy, John H. Jr. (2007). A Field Guide to Southern New England Railroad Depots and Freight Houses. Branch Line Press. p. 129. ISBN 9780942147087.
- Held, Patrick R. (2010). "Massachusetts Bay Colony Railroad Track Charts". Johns Hopkins Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
- "Bad Air at Back Bay Too Costly to Fix, T Says". The Boston Globe. August 31, 2008. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- "Federal stimulus funds mean state to do something about the lung-cancer chamber known as Back Bay station". Universal Hub. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- "AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT OF 2009 MBTA PROJECT STATUS AS OF 7/1/10". Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 MBTA Implementation & Oversight". National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Rocheleau, Matt (October 1, 2010). "Amid Complaints, T Aims to Fix Back Bay Station's Ventilation System". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
- "Railroad Accident Report RAR-92-01: Derailment and Collision of Amtrak Passenger Train 66 with MBTA Commuter Train 906 at Back Bay Station, Boston, Massachusetts, December 12, 1990". National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, DC. 25 February 1992.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Back Bay (MBTA station).|
- Amtrak – Stations – Back Bay
- MBTA - Back Bay Station
- Boston Back Bay Amtrak Station (USA RailGuide -- Train Web)
- "Back Bay station, November 16, 1960" - photograph, Railroad History Archive, University of Connecticut Libraries Collection.
- Library of Congress. Historic American Buildings Survey. Back Bay Station, 145 Dartmouth Street, 1979.
- Dartmouth Street entrance, Columbus Avenue headhouse, and Clarendon Street busway on Google Maps Street View