Back Bay station

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Back Bay facade.jpg
Front entrance, viewed from Dartmouth Street
Location 145 Dartmouth Street
Boston, MA 02116-5162
Coordinates 42°20′50″N 71°04′32″W / 42.3473°N 71.0755°W / 42.3473; -71.0755Coordinates: 42°20′50″N 71°04′32″W / 42.3473°N 71.0755°W / 42.3473; -71.0755
Owned by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Line(s) Northeast Corridor
Orange Line
Framingham/Worcester Line
Platforms 1 island platform, 1 side platform (Northeast Corridor)
1 island platform (Orange Line)
1 island platform (Framingham/Worcester Line)
Tracks 3 (Northeast Corridor)
2 (Orange Line)
2 (Framingham/Worcester Line)
Connections Local Transit MBTA Bus: 10, 39, 170
Parking No MBTA parking; adjacent private garage
Bicycle facilities 40 spaces in "Pedal and Park" bicycle cage
30 outside spaces
Disabled access Yes
Other information
Station code BBY (Amtrak)
Fare zone 1A (MBTA Commuter Rail)
Opened 1880 (Columbus Avenue); 1899 (Back Bay, Trinity Place, Huntington Avenue)
Rebuilt 1929; May 4, 1987 (modern station)
Passengers (2013) 540,770 per year[1] (Amtrak)
Passengers (2013) 18,100 daily boardings[2] (Orange Line)
Passengers (2012) 7,995 daily boardings[3] (Commuter Rail)
Preceding station   BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak   Following station
toward Chicago
Lake Shore Limited
Acela Express
Northeast Regional
toward Worcester
Framingham/Worcester Line
Needham Line
Franklin Line
Providence/Stoughton Line
toward Forest Hills
Orange Line
toward Oak Grove
  Former services  
toward Dedham
Dedham Branch
Closed 1967
toward Millis
Millis Branch
Closed 1967
Back Bay station is located in Boston
Back Bay station

Back Bay is an intercity rail, commuter rail, and rapid transit train 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. After North Station and South Station, it is the third busiest MBTA Commuter Rail station.[3]


Columbus Avenue station in 1898

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.[4] 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.[5]

The current Back Bay Station opened on May 4, 1987 as part of the Orange Line's Southwest Corridor project and was dedicated by Governor Michael Dukakis.[6] It replaced the 1899-built and 1929-rebuilt ex-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.[7] 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.

Until replaced with the Charliecard Store at Downtown Crossing on August 13, 2012, an MBTA customer service booth for special pass users was located at Back Bay station.[8]

Night Owl crash[edit]

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 453 people, although there were no fatalities.[9]

Air quality[edit]

Island platform at Back Bay; fumes in the air cause the halos around the ceiling lights

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.[10]

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.[11][12][13] 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 said then that it would complete an improved ventilation system by 2012.[14]

On October 8, 2014, Amtrak removed its customer service and ticketing agents from the station due to the persistent air quality issues. Back Bay will be an unstaffed station "until further notice" as improvements are made.[15]

Station layout[edit]

Ground Street Level Exit/Entrance, waiting room, and vendors
Platforms Track 7 Lake Shore Limited and Framingham/Worcester Line
Island platform, doors will open on the left or right
Track 5 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
View of station from Berkeley Street overpass, looking westward. From left to right: Tracks 2, 1, 3; Orange Line tracks (note third rail); Tracks 5 and 7. Click to enlarge image.

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.[16] Tracks 1 and 2 are considered the primary mainline tracks; the track numbering scheme used in the Boston area uses only odd numbers for additional tracks on the Track 1 side (hence Tracks 3, 5, and 7) and even numbers for tracks on the Track 2 side.[16] The Orange Line tracks and platforms lie between these two groups of mainline rail tracks.

Back Bay is fully handicapped accessible. The station has full-length high-level platforms on the three Northeast Corridor tracks, and a mini-high platform for the Worcester Line tracks. Elevators are available to access all platforms from the street-level station building.

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.

Bus connections[edit]

Back Bay is served by three MBTA Bus routes:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2013, Commonwealth of Massachusetts" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14 ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Humphrey, Thomas J. (21 December 2012). "MBTA Commuter Rail Passenger Count Results" (PDF). Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1842). "Boston with Charlestown and Roxbury" – via WardMaps. 
  5. ^ Humphrey, Thomas J. and Clark, Norton D. (1985). Boston's Commuter Rail: The First 150 Years. Boston Street Railway Association. p. 22. ISBN 9780685412947. 
  6. ^ "Boston-Back Bay, MA". Great American Stations. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  7. ^ Roy, John H. Jr. (2007). A Field Guide to Southern New England Railroad Depots and Freight Houses. Branch Line Press. p. 129. ISBN 9780942147087. 
  8. ^ Rocheleau, Matt (13 August 2012). "MBTA opens new CharlieCard Store inside Downtown Crossing Station". Boston Globe. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "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" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, DC. 25 February 1992. 
  10. ^ "Bad Air at Back Bay Too Costly to Fix, T Says". The Boston Globe. August 31, 2008. Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Federal stimulus funds mean state to do something about the lung-cancer chamber known as Back Bay station". Universal Hub. Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  12. ^ "AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT OF 2009 MBTA PROJECT STATUS AS OF 7/1/10" (PDF). Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  13. ^ "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 MBTA Implementation & Oversight" (PDF). National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  14. ^ Rocheleau, Matt (October 1, 2010). "Amid Complaints, T Aims to Fix Back Bay Station's Ventilation System". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Boston, MA (BBY)". Amtrak. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Held, Patrick R. (2010). "Massachusetts Bay Colony Railroad Track Charts" (PDF). Johns Hopkins Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 

External links[edit]