Green Line (MBTA)
The Green Line is a light rail system run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in the Boston, Massachusetts metropolitan area. It is the oldest Boston subway line, which is known locally as the 'T'. It runs underground downtown and on the surface in outlying areas. With a daily weekday ridership of 232,000, it is the most heavily-used light rail line in the country. The line was given the green color because it goes primarily though an area called the Emerald Necklace of Boston. The four branches are the remnants of a large streetcar system, begun in 1856 with the Cambridge Horse Railroad. The Tremont Street Subway – the oldest subway tunnel in North America – and several connecting tunnels carry cars of all branches under downtown. The Tremont Street Subway opened in stages between September 1, 1897, and September 3, 1898, to take streetcars off streets.
The line has its northern terminus at Lechmere in eastern Cambridge with connections to numerous bus routes serving Cambridge and Somerville. From there it runs south over the Lechmere Viaduct and into an extension of the Tremont Street Subway under downtown Boston to the Boston Common. It continues west in the Boylston Street Subway to Kenmore Square. The Green Line tunnels through Downtown Boston and the Back Bay are sometimes referred to as the Central Subway in planning documents.
The "E" Branch serves Lechmere and splits just west of Copley, running southwest through the Huntington Avenue Subway, ramping up to the surface at Northeastern University near Boston's Symphony Hall. It continues along Huntington Avenue, and terminating at Heath Street near V.A. Medical Center.
The "D" Branch surfaces onto the grade-separated Highland Branch, a branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad until 1958. It runs about ten and a half miles to Riverside, the primary light rail maintenance facility and major park and ride facility, on the banks of the Charles River and half a mile from the interchange of I-90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) and I-95 (Route 128 Circumferential Highway).
The "B" Branch surfaces onto Commonwealth Avenue. It runs past Boston University, passes within a quarter mile of Cleveland Circle, where a connection to the latter runs down Chestnut Hill Ave., and continues to Boston College.
The "A" Branch diverged from Commonwealth Ave. west of Boston University and ran to Watertown, across the Charles River from Watertown Square, until 1969. Although the route-letter scheme had been introduced two years prior to its closure, the "A" designation was never signed on streetcars to Watertown. It was, however, included in the destination signs on the Boeing-Vertol LRVs ordered in the mid-1970s, when reopening Watertown was under consideration. The A line tracks remained in non-revenue service to access maintenance facilities at Watertown until 1994. Not only was there community opposition to restoration, but the tracks would have required a complete rehabilitation.
Originally the Lechmere Viaduct connected to the Central Subway via the Causeway Street Elevated, a half-mile-long structure in front of North Station and the Boston Garden sports complex. A new tunnel, running behind North Station and the new TD Banknorth Garden (which replaced the Boston Garden) and connecting to a new underground Green Line and Orange Line transfer station, was built to replace it. Bus shuttle service ran from Government Center (Scollay Square) to Lechmere from June 2004 until November 12, 2005 during the final stages of construction. The historic concrete Viaduct across the Charles River remains in service, although it was closed for a number of months in 2011 to allow a complete rebuilding of Science Park station.
The original Tremont Street Subway south of Boylston station has been closed since 1962, and the streetcar lines feeding into it were replaced by bus service. The Pleasant Street Portal at its southern end has been covered over, but there were plans to build a new portal and reuse part of the tunnel for Phase III of the Silver Line bus rapid transit project. As of 2011, all Phase III tunnel construction plans are on indefinite hold due to lack of funding and heavy community opposition.
Rolling stock 
Like the three other MBTA subway lines, the line uses standard gauge tracks.
Active fleet 
Rolling stock at February 2010 included:
|Year Built||Make||Model||Length ft ( mm)||Width in ( mm)||Gauge||Road Numbers|
|1986–1988||Kinki-Sharyo||Type 7 LRV||72 ft (21,946 mm)||104 in (2,642 mm)||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)||(36xx): 3600–3699 (91 active)|
|1997||Kinki-Sharyo||Type 7 LRV||72 ft (21,946 mm)||104 in (2,642 mm)||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)||(37xx): 3700–3719 (19 active)|
|1998–2007||AnsaldoBreda||Type 8 LRV||74 ft (22,555 mm)||104 in (2,642 mm)||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)||(38xx): 3800–3894|
Retired fleet 
(Only MBTA operated vehicles included, not cars from the Boston Elevated Railway era)
|Years in Service||Make||Model||Length ft ( mm)||Width in ( mm)||Gauge||Total Number of Cars|
|1976–2007||Boeing Vertol||US Standard Light Rail Vehicle||71 ft (21,641 mm)||104 in (2,642 mm)||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)||150|
|1937–1985 (10 in revenue service on Ashmont-Mattapan line)||Pullman Standard||Presidents' Conference Committee streetcar||48 ft (14,630 mm)||100 in (2,540 mm)||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)||10 (remaining; more were used in Green Line service)|
At the end of the 19th century, Tremont Street Subway allowed streetcars to bypass the worst street congestion in downtown Boston.
For many years, the line used the PCC streetcars developed during the Depression. These were phased out in favor of the US Standard Light Rail Vehicle supplied by the new US venture Boeing-Vertol in the mid-1970s. The introduction of the LRV cars was heralded as part of an effort to rejuvenate mass transit in medium-sized metropolises. This first series of LRVs were subject to chronic breakdowns, and Boeing soon abandoned its venture.
Desperate for reliable rolling stock, the MBTA launched an overhaul program to extend the PCCs' life, and they were used into the 1980s in the Central Subway. In 2011 ten cars were still running on the Ashmont-Mattapan portion of the Red Line.
In 1987, 100 second generation LRVs were ordered from the Japanese firm Kinki Sharyo, with an additional 20 cars ordered and delivered in 1997. The last of the Boeing-Vertol cars were retired in March, 2007, and all except for ten of the cars were scrapped. Of the remaining cars, six were sold to the US Government and are now in Pueblo, Colorado for testing purposes, one was given to the Seashore Trolley Museum, and three were retained by the MBTA for work service. In 2011, the Kinki Sharyo cars made up the bulk of rolling stock, with newer Breda cars.
One of the earliest surviving pre-PCC cars, Type 5 5734, can still be seen on a sidetrack at Boylston, along with PCC 3295. They were frequently used for fantrips, the most recent in 1997. It is highly doubtful that these cars are still in working condition, and 5734 reportedly has structural problems with its roof. The San Francisco Muni F Market line historic street railway runs a PCC car in Boston colors, but that car never ran in Boston.
The Red Line, Blue Line, and Orange Line run rapid transit cars and use stations with high platforms level with the car floor providing easy access for the disabled. The Green Line is a trolley/streetcar line and has used a variety of streetcars.
Originally all the Green Line stations had platforms at track level, and passengers had to ascend several steps up into the vehicles. This limited accessibility for persons with disabilities. To address this issue and comply with changing federal and state laws, additional facilities have been added:
- Wheelchair lifts have been provided at some stops. They rolled up the car door and the lift mechanism was operated using a hand crank. They are quite time-consuming to operate, causing significant delays when used during peak periods.
- Short platforms level with car floors, accessed by ramps, were installed just before or after selected stations. Because the car door arrangement required a large gap between the platform and the car, a bridge plate attached to the raised platform had to be positioned after the train stopped with a door at that platform.
- The MBTA has followed the worldwide trend of operating low-floor streetcars. As an ongoing project, not complete in 2012, platforms are being raised slightly to about the height of a street curb. Low-floor cars have remotely controlled bridge plates at the center doors to allow wheelchairs and strollers to reach the car floor a few inches higher.
One hundred low-floor cars were purchased from the Italian company AnsaldoBreda, with styling by Pininfarina. They were initially problematic and difficult to maintain: the first cars failed every 400 miles (640 km), far less than the 9,000 miles (14,500 km) specified by the MBTA, and were prone to derailments. The MBTA has been forced to spend an additional US$9.5 million to modify tracks to prevent the derailments, echoing early problems with the Boeing stock. The MBTA has been criticized for their failure to assess Bredas' reliability before entering into the deal, and during delivery.
In December 2004, the MBTA canceled orders for the cars still to be delivered as part of the authority's nine-year, US$225 million-dollar deal with Breda. One year later, in December 2005 the MBTA announced that it had entered into a restructuring of the deal, reducing the order to 85 cars (with spare parts to be provided in lieu of the 15 remaining cars), and providing for the remaining payment under the original deal only if the cars meet performance requirements. Construction of the last car under the order was completed on December 14, 2006; though in late 2007 the MBTA announced it had contracted with Breda to deliver another 10 cars, bringing the total order to 95 production cars and 5 car shells for parts.
After several years of modifications to "D" Branch tracks, the Breda cars returned to service on that line, and now provide service on every branch of the Green Line.
The MBTA runs single cars and two- or three-car trains. An occasional four-car trains ha been seen on special occasions such as after a baseball game at Fenway Park. As of December 2011, single-car trips are rare on weekdays. Two-car trains now run from the start to end of service Monday through Friday, with three-car trains on some rush-hour trips on all branches. The MBTA has promised that each two- and three-car train will contain at least one Type 8 low-floor car to facilitate access for disabled persons.
Operations and signalling 
The line is signalled with advisory wayside signals except on surface portions in street medians or in-street running. Wayside signal territory stretches from Lechmere to the surface portals at Kenmore, and along the D-Riverside branch. There are no automatic protection devices, as the cars have track brakes, giving the ability to stop quickly. Interlockings are controlled through a wayside Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI) system that relies on the operator properly entering the destination manually on a roto-wheel in the train cab.
The line is monitored from the 45 High Street rapid transit control room. Responsibility for controlling service is shared by the control room and field personnel along the right of way. Track circuit and signal indications are not transmitted to the operational personnel sites. In lieu of track circuit indications, the AVI system is displayed in the control room to provide a periodic update to train position wherever AVI detectors exist. The AVI system user interface was solely text based until the current control room was opened, in which a new schematic display based on AVI data was instituted. Track circuit indications are available digitally in signal houses at Park Street interlocking, at the new North Station interlocking, and at the new Kenmore interlocking, but are not transmitted to 45 High Street. In January 2013, the MBTA announced plans to add full tracking on the line for countdown signs and smartphone applications, including using AVI data in the tunnels.
Plans to reinstitute a crossover for through movements from the terminating (inner) northbound platform at Park Street towards Government Center are expected to increase capacity. However, this project was placed on hold in 2013 due to the cost of adding additional supports.
Somerville/Medford extension (Green Line Extension Project) 
To settle a lawsuit with the Conservation Law Foundation to mitigate increased automobile emissions from the Big Dig, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed to extend the line from its northern terminus at Lechmere to Medford Hillside through Somerville and Medford, two suburbs underserved by the MBTA relative to their population densities, commercial importance, and proximity to Boston. The line would use railroad rights-of-way that serve the Lowell Line (which also carries Amtrak's Downeaster) and the Fitchburg Line of MBTA Commuter Rail. The extension is projected to have a total weekday ridership of about 52,000.
The Green Line Extension (GLX) is planned to have two branches, which will split just past a relocated Lechmere station. The Medford Branch, which will become an extension of the "E" Branch, will run along the Lowell Line right of way with stops at Brickbottom, Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square to College Avenue in Medford, on the edge of the Tufts University campus. The original plans called for a further station, Route 16, at the Mystic Valley Parkway in West Medford, but this station was placed on hold due to cost issues. The Union Square branch will follow the Fitchburg Line right-of-way from Lechmere to Union Square station just south of Union Square in Somerville.
In 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced that the new service was expected to be operational in October 2015; interim air quality offset measures would need to be taken if the project misses its December 2014 deadline as expected. In August 2011, MassDOT announced that opening of the Extension would be postponed to Fall 2018 at the earliest, with some stations not opening until 2019. The stated reason was difficulties in land acquisition, plus implied concerns about cost controls and financing. Interim air-quality improvement measures will be necessary due to the project delays. Possibilities include extending Green Line branches to Lechmere, increased bus service in Somerville and Medford, and temporary or permanent commuter rail stops along the GLX corridor.
On June 11, 2012, the Federal Transit Administration approved the Extensions for entry into the Preliminary Engineering phase as part of the New Starts program. This approval was a necessary step in MassDOT's application for $557.06 million in New Starts funding.
Arborway restoration cancelled 
Another mitigation project in the initial lawsuit settlement was restoration of service on the "E" Branch between Heath Street and Arborway/Forest Hills. After some internal and community opposition, a revised settlement agreement resulted in the substitution of other projects with similar air-quality benefits. In lieu of the rail project, the state undertook to speed the Route 39 bus by improvements such as consolidating bus stops, lengthening stops, and re-timing traffic lights, funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and expected to be completed in 2010. The last lawsuit mandating the return of service was defeated in court in January 2011.
Light Rail Accessibility Project 
All of pre-pay stations on the line opened between 1897 and 1959, long before the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Since the late 1980s, the MBTA has been adding elevators and rebuilding stations for ADA compliance. Most of the pre-pay stations are now handicapped accessible, but few of the surface stops are. Most stations have been retrofitted, including the 1971 Haymarket station). However, the underground platforms at North Station were entirely new construction; they replaced the former elevated station in 2004.
The following pre-pay stations have been made fully accessible:
- Science Park: 2011
- North Station: 2004 (2004-built underground station)
- Haymarket: 2000 (1971-built station)
- Park Street: 1993
- Arlington: 2009
- Copley: 2010
- Kenmore: 2010
- Prudential: 2003
- Riverside: 2000
A major renovation of Government Center, including a new headhouse and redundant elevators to serve the Green and Blue lines, is in the final design phase. Construction is planned to start in late 2012 and to be completed in 2016. Accessibility renovations at Symphony and Hynes Convention Center are currently in preliminary design. Lechmere station, built in 1922, will be replaced with an accessible elevated station as part of the Green Line Extension project, which will open between 2015 and 2020.
The Red, Orange, and Blue lines have block signalling systems that make tracking trains easier. Signs in most station on those lines began to display real-time train information in late 2012 and early 2013, while data feeds have been available for smartphone applications since 2010. However, the wayside signalling system used in the Green Line's tunnels and the D Branch does not provide for that level of tracking, nor do the basic stop/go signals used on the street-level branch lines. In January 2013, the MBTA announced plans to provide full tracking data for the Green Line by 2015, allowing use of smartphone applications and in-station countdown signs. The $15 million system will use existing Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI) systems plus additional sensors in the tunnels, and GPS receivers on the surface sections.
Fare prepaid station listing 
The following stations have prepaid fare areas (also called fare control), which allow quick boarding through front and rear doors. At all other stations, passengers must use the front door to pay fares, slowing travel times especially during peak periods.
|Station||Location||Time to Park Street||Opened||Transfers and notes|
|Main line: Lechmere Viaduct, Tremont Street Subway and Boylston Street Subway|
|Lechmere||Cambridge Street, (Cambridge)
(sign said 12)
|July 10, 1922||"E" Branch terminus
Viaduct to Lechmere opened June 1, 1912, with tracks running directly onto streets through July 9, 1922
|Science Park||Charles River Dam Bridge (Boston)
Museum of Science
|8 minutes||August 20, 1955||Located on Lechmere Viaduct
Only surviving elevated station on the Green Line
|North Station||Canal Street (Boston)
TD Garden sports arena
|June 28, 2004||"C" Branch terminates here
Orange Line and Commuter Rail north side lines
Surface station opened September 3, 1898 and closed March 27, 1997
Elevated station opened June 1, 1912 and closed June 24, 2004
|Haymarket||Congress and New Sudbury Streets (Boston)||May 10, 1971||Orange Line
Original station opened September 3, 1898
|Government Center||Tremont, Court, and Cambridge Streets (Boston)
Boston City Hall, Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market area
|2 minutes||September 3, 1898||"B" and "D" Branches terminate here
Formerly "Scollay Square" until October 27, 1963
|Park Street||Tremont, Park, and Winter Streets (Boston)
|0 minutes||September 1, 1897||Red Line, Orange Line, and Silver Line (must exit fare control area for Silver Line)|
|Boylston||Tremont and Boylston Streets (Boston)
|1 minute||September 1, 1897||Silver Line (must exit fare control area)
Abandoned tracks split off at Boylston to the Pleasant Street Incline
|Arlington||Boylston and Arlington Streets (Boston)
Boston Public Garden
|3 minutes||November 13, 1921||Free crossover allowed at mezzanine level, to reverse direction of travel|
|Copley||Boylston Street (Boston)
|4 minutes||October 3, 1914||"E" Branch splits off after Copley
No crossover between directions at Copley; use Arlington to reverse direction
|Hynes Convention Center||Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street (Boston)
Hynes Convention Center
|October 3, 1914||Formerly "Massachusetts" until February 17, 1965, then "Auditorium" until March 27, 1990, then "Hynes Convention Center/ICA" until November 2006.|
|Kenmore||Kenmore Square (Boston)
|12 minutes||October 23, 1932||"B", "C", and "D" Branches split here|
|E Branch (splits off after Copley): Huntington Avenue Subway|
|Prudential||Huntington Avenue (Boston)
|February 16, 1941||"E" Branch
Formerly "Mechanics" until 1964
|Symphony||Massachusetts Avenue and Huntington Avenue (Boston)
Boston Symphony Hall
|February 16, 1941||"E" Branch|
|D Branch: Highland Branch|
|Riverside||Auburndale in Newton, Massachusetts||July 4, 1959||"D" Branch terminus|
Incidents and accidents 
On May 28, 2008, two "D-line" trains collided in Newton. The operator of one of the trains was killed and numerous riders were taken to hospital with injuries of varying degrees of seriousness. While it was originally thought that cell phone use was responsible for the accident, the cause was an episode of micro-sleep caused by the driver's sleep apnea.
On May 8, 2009, two trolleys rear-end collided underground between Park Street and Government Center when the driver of one of the trolleys, 24-year-old Aiden Quinn, was text messaging his girlfriend while driving. A tougher policy on cell phones by the MBTA was put in place. Quinn had run through a red light before the crash, which injured 46 people. MBTA officials estimated that the cost of the crash was $9.6 million.
On October 8, 2012, two "E-line" trolleys collided in the 700 block of Huntington Avenue near Brigham Circle when one derailed into the other, injuring three people including a train operator. On November 29, 2012, two trolleys collided at low speed at Boylston, injuring several dozen passengers.
- American Public Transportation Association, APTA transit ridership report, Q3 2011. Accessed 2 January 2012
- Boston at urbanrail.net
- On line pubs TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 1995
- Kleespies, Gavin W. and MacDonald, Katie. "Transportation History". Harvard Square Business Association. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
- Daniel, Mac (November 11, 2005). "Lechmere, Science Park stations reopen". The Boston Globe.
- "Ridership and Service Statistics - Thirteenth Edition 2010". MBTA. p. 20. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
- U.S. DOT / Boeing brochure
- Boston's Green Line Crisis
- "Boston - MBTA: Green Line - Technical Data", Kinko Sharyo documents
- "End of the line for T pioneers". The Boston Globe. March 16, 2007.
- MBTA > About the MBTA > Transit Projects > Transit Projects and Accessibility
- Flint, Anthony. "MBTA Halts Purchase of Green Line 'Lemons'" (mirrored copy). The Boston Globe. December 12, 2004.
- Daniel, Mac (December 17, 2005). "Green Line seeks zippier service with upgrade plan". The Boston Globe.
- "Bredas". The Boston Globe. December 14, 2006.
- Bierman, Noah (November 12, 2007). "T will take 10 new cars for its busy Green Line". The Boston Globe.
- Pesaturo, Joseph (March 16, 2011). "Green Line to nearly triple the number of 3-car trains". MBTA. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
- Rocheleau, Matt (22 January 2013). "MBTA: Mobile apps will be able to track Green Line trains by 2015". Boston Globe. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- Bowles, Ian (July 30, 2010), Final Environmental Impact Report, p. 5, retrieved October 16, 2010
- Byrne, Matt (August 1, 2011). "State: Green Line extension will be delayed til 2018". boston.com (The Boston Globe). Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- Central Transportation Planning Staff (23 January 2012). "Green Line Extension SIP Mitigation Inventory". Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- Mello, Mary Beth (11 June 2012). "Re: Preliminary Engineering Approval for the Green Line Extension (GLX) Light Rail Transit Project". Federal Transit Administration. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- "Green Line Extension Phase 1 Construction Begins". Commonwealth Conversation: Transportation. Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- "Notice to Proceed Given For Phase 1 of Green Line Extension". Ward 5 Online. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- Ruch, John (26 August 2011). "Trolley comeback killed by court". Jamaica Plain Gazette. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- "Trolley service to resume as project end". Boston Globe. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Tran Systems and Planners Collaborative (24 August 2007). "Evaluation of MBTA Paratransit and Accessible Fixed Route Transit Services: Final Report". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Bierman, Noah (2 June 2009). "Arlington T station reopens with disabled access". Boston Globe. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Rocheleau, Matt (14 September 2010). "Copley station project nears end; historic church plans repairs". Boston Globe. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Adam G (22 April 2010). "Can you believe it? Kenmore station officially finished". Universalhub. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- "Government Center Modernization". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- "Accessibility Upgrades at Symphony, Hynes and Wollaston Stations". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Association for Public Transportation, Car-Free in Boston, A Guide for Locals and Visitors, 10th ed. (2003), p. 117.
- "Trolley Driver Was Texting Girlfriend At Time Of Crash: 46 Injured In Green Line Crash", WCVB, Boston, May 8, 2009.
- "Trolley Crash Inspires Tougher Cell Phone Policy: NTSB Still Investigating Crash", WCVB, May 9, 2009
- Texting Trolley Driver Is Transgendered Male, ABC News, May 11, 2009
- "Accident involving two Green Line trolleys". www.wcvb.com. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
- Moskowitz, Erik et al (29 November 2012). "35 taken to hospital after two trolleys collide at Boylston MBTA station". Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: MBTA Green Line|
- MBTA - Green Line
- Jamaica Plain Historical Society - Streetcars in Jamaica Plain: A History
- Green Line Extension project page