Green Line "B" Branch

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Commonwealth Avenue Line
MBTA Green Line B.jpg
Ansaldobreda Type 8 #3840 waits at a red light on Commonwealth Avenue at Carlton Street.
Type Light rail
System Green Line
Locale Greater Boston
Termini Government Center
Boston College
Stations 25
Daily ridership 30,745 (1995 typical weekday, surface boardings only)[1]
Opening October 23, 1932
Owner MBTA
Operator(s) MBTA
Character Underground (Kenmore and eastward)
Center median running (west of Kenmore)
Rolling stock Kinki Sharyo Type 7
Ansaldobreda Type 8
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
"C" and "E" branches
Government Center Blue Line 
Tremont Street Subway
Park Street Red Line 
Boylston Silver Line 
Pleasant Street Portal (Closed 1961)
Copley Junction
E Branch
Hynes Convention Center
D Branch
C Branch
Blandford Street Portal
Blandford Street
Boston University East
Boston University Central
Boston University West
St. Paul Street
Pleasant Street
Babcock Street
A Branch (Closed 1969)
Packards Corner
Fordham Road (Closed 2005)
Harvard Avenue
Griggs Street/Long Avenue
Allston Street
Warren Street
Summit Avenue (Closed 2005)
Washington Street
Mount Hood Road (Closed 2005)
Sutherland Street
Chiswick Road
Chestnut Hill Avenue
South Street
Greycliff Road (Closed 2005)
Boston College

The "B" Branch, also called the Commonwealth Avenue Branch or Boston College Branch, is a branch of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line in the Boston, Massachusetts area, along which light rail vehicles run on a surface right-of-way down the middle of Commonwealth Avenue. After going underground via the Blandford Street Incline, the tracks merge with the "C" and "D" Branches into Kenmore station. From there the Boylston Street Subway and Tremont Street Subway carry "B" cars to downtown Boston, with regular service turning around at Government Center. The "B" Branch gives its name to the Green Line Rivalry between Boston College and Boston University, both of which are located on the line.


In 1896, tracks were laid on Commonwealth Avenue from Chestnut Hill Avenue west to the Newton town line at Lake Street, and around the same time the Commonwealth Avenue Street Railway opened, extending the tracks through Newton to Norumbega Park; this later became part of the Middlesex and Boston Street Railway. Trains between Lake Street and downtown Boston used tracks on Beacon Street, now part of the "C" Branch. From Kenmore Square they continued east on Beacon Street, then turned south on Massachusetts Avenue and east on Boylston Street to Park Square. In 1900 tracks were installed on the rest of Commonwealth Avenue, from Chestnut Hill Avenue east to existing tracks at Packard's Corner, later part of the "A" Branch. This enabled trains to use Commonwealth Avenue between Lake Street and Kenmore Square. In 1909, the tracks were electrified.[2]

1916 map showing the loop at Braves Field

The Tremont Street Subway opened on September 1, 1897 and then or soon after the Commonwealth Avenue line was rerouted to turn around at Park Street via the Boylston Street Incline at the Public Garden. The Boylston Street Subway opened on October 3, 1914, extending the underground portion to the Kenmore Incline just east of Kenmore Square. On October 23, 1932 the Blandford Street Incline opened along with the underground Kenmore station, giving the line its present configuration.

Until the 1920s, a streetcar line that has since become the 65 bus ran along Commonwealth Avenue from Boston College east to Chestnut Hill Avenue, then south on Chestnut Hill Avenue and east on Beacon Street from Cleveland Circle to Washington Square, turning southeast to Brookline Village. After this was replaced by bus service in the 1920s (along with a rerouting), no revenue service used the tracks on Chestnut Hill Avenue, but they have remained for "B" Branch trains to access the Reservoir Carhouse at Cleveland Circle on the "C" Branch.

A turnback loop at Boston University Field was present from 1915 to January 14, 1962. It was used for service to special events as well as to short-turn some rush hour trains.

From 1942 to 1967, the route was known by the map number of 62. In 1967, the lines were given colors and the Green Line branches were lettered. The Commonwealth Avenue Line became the "B" Branch.

Downtown terminal[edit]

Until 1931, the line always looped at Park Street. On February 7 of that year, the Commonwealth Avenue service was extended east through downtown to loop at Lechmere. Since then, the following changes in east terminal have been made:

  • November 20, 1961: cut back to Park Street
  • November 18, 1964: extended Monday-Saturday to Government Center
  • January 1967: cut back to Park Street all times due to problems at the Government Center loop
  • March 25, 1967: extended to North Station
  • June 17, 1967: cut back to Government Center
  • September 9, 1967: extended to North Station
  • September 14, 1967: cut back to Government Center due to problems at the North Station loop
  • March 21, 1970: extended to Haymarket, looped empty at North Station
  • December 26, 1970: extended to North Station
  • March 25, 1974: extended to Lechmere
  • January 1, 1977: cut back to North Station weekdays only
  • March 19, 1977: extended to Lechmere all times
  • June 18, 1977: cut back to Government Center all times
  • September 9, 1977: extended to Lechmere all times
  • September 9, 1978: cut back to Government Center nights and Sundays
  • March 24, 1979: cut back to Government Center middays and Saturdays, with only rush hour trips continuing to Lechmere
  • March 21, 1980: cut back to Park Street all times
  • April 4, 1981: extended to North Station (PCC cars looped at Government Center)
  • July 30, 1983: cut back to Government Center


The B Branch is frequently criticized by riders for its slow service. It is markedly slower than the C branch, in part because of its greater density of stops and at-grade crossings. Like on its sister C branch, B branch streetcars must stop on traffic signals at street crossings. Both B and C line branches are slower than the D branch, which benefits from the lowest stop density and an exclusively dedicated right-of-way.

Mount Hood Road stop (outbound platform pictured) was closed in 2005

In late 2003, the MBTA proposed eliminating five stops along the B branch (Greycliff Road, Mount Hood Road, Summit Avenue, Fordham Road and Chiswick Road.) This was seen as a way to speed up service for riders, while also reducing the MBTA's maintenance costs.[citation needed] Many riders[who?] welcomed the change, noting the stops' low ridership and close proximity to more popular stops. Others[who?] felt that the change did not go far enough, noting that the total time savings would be small (a few minutes out of a 45-minute trip) and the B branch would still be the slowest Green Line branch by far. Many riders[who?] questioned why the MBTA did not propose closing any of the stops east of Packard's Corner, even though this would improve travel times for the largest number of riders and several of these stops are only several hundred feet apart.

In April 2004, four of the five stops (Greycliff Road, Mount Hood Road, Summit Avenue and Fordham Road) were closed in a pilot stop elimination program.[3] The fifth (Chiswick Road) was spared, after elderly residents of the nearby Jewish Community Housing facility rallied to its defense. In 2005, after a survey showed that 73% of 1,142 riders surveyed approved of the closures, the MBTA announced that the four stops would be closed permanently.[4] Despite these favorable and popular responses by B branch riders, the MBTA has no further plans to improve service times on the B branch, either by reducing stop frequency or using any other means, such as traffic signal prioritization.

Station listing[edit]

Trains on the 'B Line' only travel from Government Center to Boston College. The segment from Government Center to Kenmore is shared with the three other branches. There is no MBTA parking at any "B" branch stations. All stations between Kenmore and Packard's Corner are also stops of the 57 bus to Watertown.

Station Location Time to Park Street[5] Time to Lechmere (must change to 'E Line' train) Time to Boston College Transfers and notes
Blandford Street Commonwealth Avenue at Silber Way, Boston 16 minutes 29 minutes 27 minutes
Handicapped/disabled access Boston University East Commonwealth Avenue at Granby Street, Boston 17 minutes 30 minutes 26 minutes
Handicapped/disabled access Boston University Central Commonwealth Avenue at Marsh Chapel, Boston 18 minutes 31 minutes 25 minutes
Boston University West Commonwealth Avenue at Amory Street, Boston 19 minutes 32 minutes 24 minutes
St. Paul Street Commonwealth Avenue at Buick Street, Boston 20 minutes 33 minutes 23 minutes
Pleasant Street Commonwealth Avenue at Pleasant Street, Boston 22 minutes 35 minutes 21 minutes
Babcock Street Commonwealth Avenue at Babcock Street, Boston 24 minutes 37 minutes 19 minutes
Packards Corner Packard's Corner at Brighton Avenue, Allston 26 minutes 39 minutes 17 minutes the "A" Branch formerly diverged here
Fordham Road Commonwealth Avenue at Fordham Road No longer a stop Closed in 2005 to ease travel time.
Handicapped/disabled access Harvard Avenue Commonwealth Avenue at Harvard Avenue, Allston 28 minutes 41 minutes 15 minutes #66 Bus
Griggs Street/Long Avenue Commonwealth Avenue at Griggs Street, Allston 30 minutes 43 minutes 13 minutes
Allston Street Commonwealth Avenue at Allston Street, Allston 32 minutes 45 minutes 11 minutes
Warren Street Commonwealth Avenue at Warren Street, Brighton 34 minutes 47 minutes 9 minutes
Summit Avenue Commonwealth Avenue at Summit Avenue, Brighton No longer a stop Closed in 2005 to ease travel time.
Handicapped/disabled access Washington Street Commonwealth Avenue at Washington Street, Brighton 36 minutes 49 minutes 7 minutes 65 Bus to Kenmore Square
Mount Hood Road Commonwealth Avenue at Mount Hood Road, Brighton No longer a stop Closed in 2005 to ease travel time.
Sutherland Street Commonwealth Avenue at Sutherland Road, Brighton 38 minutes 51 minutes 5 minutes
Chiswick Road Commonwealth Avenue at Chiswick Road, Brighton 40 minutes 53 minutes 3 minutes
Chestnut Hill Avenue Commonwealth Avenue at Chestnut Hill Avenue, Brighton 41 minutes 54 minutes 2 minutes within easy walking distance of Cleveland Circle (C branch) and Reservoir (D branch)
South Street Commonwealth Avenue at South Street, Brighton 42 minutes 55 minutes 1 minute
Greycliff Road Commonwealth Avenue at Greycliff Road, Brighton No longer a stop Closed in 2005 to ease travel time.
Handicapped/disabled access Boston College Commonwealth Avenue at Lake Street, Chestnut Hill, Boston serving Boston College 43 minutes 56 minutes 0 minutes formerly Lake Street


  1. ^
  2. ^ Cleveland Circle History
  3. ^ "Green Line B Branch Service Enhancements". TRANSreport. Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization. May 2004. Archived from the original on 16 January 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Daniel, Mac (16 March 2005). "T drops 4 Green Line stops after results of rider survey". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 18 March 2005. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Association for Public Transportation, Car-Free in Boston, A Guide for Locals and Visitors, 10th ed. (2003), p. 117.

External links[edit]