Green Line "C" Branch

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Green Line "C" Branch
St. Marys Street MBTA station, Boston MA.jpg
An outbound train at St. Marys Street station
TypeLight rail
LocaleBoston and Brookline, Massachusetts
TerminiNorth Station
Cleveland Circle
Daily ridership12,466 (2011 surface boardings)[1]
OpenedOctober 23, 1932
CharacterUnderground (Kenmore and eastward)
Dedicated Lane ROW (west of Kenmore)
Rolling stockKinki Sharyo Type 7
Ansaldobreda Type 8
Number of tracks2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map

North Station
Orange Line (MBTA)MBTA.svgAmtrak
Orange Line (MBTA)
Government Center
Blue Line (MBTA)
Park Street
Red Line (MBTA)Orange Line (MBTA)Silver Line (MBTA)
Silver Line (MBTA)
Copley Junction
Hynes Convention Center
St. Mary's Street Portal
St. Marys Street
Hawes Street
Kent Street
St. Paul Street
Coolidge Corner
Summit Avenue
Brandon Hall
Washington Square
Tappan Street
Dean Road
Englewood Avenue
Cleveland Circle

The "C" Branch, also called the Beacon Street Line or Cleveland Circle Line, is one of four branches of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Green Line light rail system in the Boston, Massachusetts metropolitan area. The line begins at Cleveland Circle in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston and runs on the surface through Brookline along the median of Beacon Street. Reentering Boston, the line goes underground through the St. Marys Street Incline and joins the "B" and "D" Branches at Kenmore. Trains run through the Boylston Street Subway to Copley where the "E" Branch joins, then continue through the Tremont Street Subway to downtown Boston. As of 2017, the "C" Branch terminates at North Station; further service to Lechmere is provided by the "E" Branch.

Traffic signals[edit]

The C Branch runs in a dedicated median but has many street crossings

The "C" branch runs on a dedicated median on Beacon Street in Brookline, with a total of 18 grade crossings at major cross streets.[2] Like on its sister "B" branch, "C" branch streetcars must stop on traffic signals at street crossings. The signals on Beacon Street in Brookline could in theory be prioritized to make the Green Line run faster. However, the MBTA, which would be expected to pay for the streetcar sensors, does not consider the project to be cost-effective.[3] In 2007, the Boston Globe published letters from riders who are in favor of these sensors,[4] a letter from the MBTA spokesperson arguing that a major study is needed before the MBTA spends money,[5] and a letter arguing that the T's spokesperson is giving too many excuses.[6]

In January 2008, the MBTA hired a consultant to study the issue.[7] As of 2011, the Town of Brookline was considering formally asking the MBTA to cooperate in setting up traffic signal prioritization to speed up Green Line trains on Beacon Street.[8]

In Mayor Marty Walsh's "Go Boston 2030" plan, prioritizing traffic signals on Beacon Street was a proposed idea. The plan indicated that the project is planned to be completed within five years.[9]


A Beacon Street/Cleveland Circle PCC streetcar, #3295 preserved at Boylston station
Now-discontinued Boeing US Standard Light Rail Vehicle crossing Washington Street in 1987
The St. Marys Street Portal connects the C branch to the Boylston Street Subway

The first tracks on Beacon Street were laid in 1888, running from Massachusetts Avenue west to Coolidge Corner. The next year the rest of the line to Cleveland Circle opened, with access to the Reservoir Carhouse. In 1889, the first electric streetcar route (see Green Line "A" Branch) used Beacon Street from Coolidge Corner east to Massachusetts Avenue, then ran south on Massachusetts Avenue and east on Boylston Street to Park Square. That same year the line on Beacon Street to Cleveland Circle was electrified.

Another connection to the Beacon Street line was provided at Washington Square; streetcars came from Brookline Village along Washington Street and turned west on Beacon Street. This line was later extended north on Chestnut Hill Avenue and west on Commonwealth Avenue to Boston College and was the predecessor of the 65 bus route.

On September 1, 1897, the Tremont Street Subway opened and then or soon after Beacon Street service began to run into it via the Boylston Street Portal at the Public Garden, turning around at Park Street. On October 3, 1914, the Boylston Street Subway extended the underground portion to the Kenmore Incline just east of Kenmore Square, and the underground Kenmore and the St. Marys Street Incline extended it west on October 23, 1932.

Until 1967, when it was named the "C" Branch, the Beacon Street route had the map number 61.

Beacon Street service was extended from Park Street to Lechmere on February 7, 1931. Since then, Beacon Street service has had the following east terminals:[10]

  • November 20, 1961: cut back from Lechmere to North Station all but Sundays
  • March 25, 1967: extended to Lechmere all times
  • June–September 1968: cut back to Government Center Sundays, restored to Lechmere afterwards
  • March 21, 1980: cut back to Government Center all but rush hours
  • June 21, 1980: extended to Lechmere all times
  • April 4, 1981: cut back to Park Street
  • June 26, 1982: extended to Government Center
  • July 30, 1983: extended to North Station
  • March 28, 1997: cut back to Government Center
  • January 1, 2005: extended to North Station

As of 2016, regular C service terminates at North Station.

Station listing[edit]

Washington Square station
A train pulls out of Cleveland Circle to change direction for an inbound trip
Location Station Opened Notes and connections
East Cambridge Handicapped/disabled access Lechmere July 10, 1922 Current station for E Branch; has not served C Branch since April 3, 1981
West End Handicapped/disabled access Science Park August 20, 1955 Current station for E Branch; has not served C Branch since April 3, 1981
North End Handicapped/disabled access North Station June 28, 2004 Original surface station was open from September 3, 1898 to March 27, 1997. Elevated station was open from June 1, 1912 to June 24, 2004.
Subway interchange MBTA subway: Orange Line
Bus transport MBTA Bus: 4
MBTA.svg MBTA Commuter Rail: Fitchburg Line, Lowell Line, Haverhill Line, and Newburyport/Rockport Line
Amtrak Amtrak: Downeaster
Handicapped/disabled access Haymarket September 3, 1898 Subway interchange MBTA subway: Orange Line
Bus transport MBTA Bus: 4, 92, 93, 111, 191, 192, 193, 194, 325, 326, 352, 354, 426, 428, 434, 450
Downtown Boston Handicapped/disabled access Government Center Subway interchange MBTA subway: Blue Line
Bus transport MBTA Bus: 191, 192, 193, 352, 354
Handicapped/disabled access Park Street September 1, 1897 Subway interchange MBTA subway: Red Line
Bus transport MBTA Bus: SL5, 43, 55, 191, 192, 193
At Downtown Crossing: Subway interchange Orange Line, Bus transport 7, 11, 501, 504, 505, 553, 554, 556, 558
Boylston Bus transport MBTA Bus: SL5, 43, 55, 191, 192, 193
Back Bay Handicapped/disabled access Arlington November 13, 1921 Bus transport MBTA Bus: 9, 55, 192, 193
Handicapped/disabled access Copley October 3, 1914 Bus transport MBTA Bus: 9, 10, 39, 55, 170, 192, 193, 502, 503
Hynes Convention Center Bus transport MBTA Bus: 1, 55, 193
Fenway–Kenmore Handicapped/disabled access Kenmore October 23, 1932 Bus transport MBTA Bus: 8, 19, 57, 57A, 60, 65, 193
At Lansdowne: MBTA.svg Framingham/Worcester Line
Brookline Handicapped/disabled access St. Marys Street 1888 Bus transport MBTA Bus: CT2, 47
Carlton Street Closed on July 24, 1982
Hawes Street
Kent Street
St. Paul Street
Handicapped/disabled access Coolidge Corner Bus transport MBTA Bus: 66
Winchester Street 1889 Closed on July 4, 1982
Summit Avenue
Brandon Hall
Handicapped/disabled access Washington Square Bus transport MBTA Bus: 65
Winthrop Road Closed on July 4, 1982
Tappan Street
Dean Road
Englewood Avenue
Strathmore Road Closed on July 24, 1982
Brighton Handicapped/disabled access Cleveland Circle At Reservoir: Bus transport MBTA Bus 51, 86


  1. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14th ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014.
  2. ^ "Google Maps". Google Inc. 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  3. ^ Masis, Julie (2 December 2007). "Beacon gets smart lights, but T isn't along for the ride". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Letters". The Boston Globe. 9 December 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Letters". The Boston Globe. 16 December 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Letters". The Boston Globe. 30 December 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  7. ^ Masis, Julie (27 January 2008). "T may get edge on Beacon St". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  8. ^ Parker, Brock (January 11, 2011). "Brookline mulling how to speed up C Line along Beacon Street". (The Boston Globe). Retrieved 2011-08-02.
  9. ^ "Go Boston 2030 Full Plan" (PDF). 7 March 2017. p. 168. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  10. ^ Belcher, Jonathan (20 July 2011). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). Retrieved 31 July 2011.

External links[edit]

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