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
LocaleBoston and Brookline, Massachusetts
TerminiNorth Station
Cleveland Circle
TypeLight rail
Rolling stockKinki Sharyo Type 7
Ansaldobreda Type 8
Daily ridership12,466 (2011 surface boardings)[1]
OpenedOctober 23, 1932
Number of tracks2
CharacterUnderground (Kenmore and eastward)
Dedicated Lane ROW (west of Kenmore)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map

D and E branches (2021)
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
Fairbanks Street
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 2020, the C branch terminates at North Station.


PCC streetcars at Cleveland Circle in 1951
Now-discontinued Boeing US Standard Light Rail Vehicle crossing Washington Street in 1987

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.

The Tremont Street subway opened on September 1, 1897; Beacon Street service was routed into the Public Garden incline at the Public Garden, turning around at Park Street.[2]:57 The Boylston Street subway opened on October 3, 1914 as a westward extension of the Tremont Street subway. The Beacon Street line entered just east of Kenmore Square.[2]:57

On November 21, 1914, rush hour Washington Street service was cut back to Reservoir, leaving only Beacon Street cars using the Chestnut Hill Avenue tracks.[3] Beacon Street service was cut to Reservoir on November 6, 1915, with Washington Street service extended back to Lake Street.[4] Beginning on February 6, 1922, all Washington Street service was operated as a Brookline Village–Lake Street shuttle as part of service changes on the Huntington Avenue line.[5] The Washington Street shuttle was converted to bus on April 24, 1926.[6]:197 It was redirected to Brighton Center on June 23, 1928, and eventually became route 65.[6]:52[7]

On December 14, 1929, most trips of the KenmoreLechmere shuttle were extended along Beacon Street to Washington Square. This resulted in ​2 12-minute rush-hour headways on the inner part of the line, with three-car Washington Square–Lechmere trains and two-car Cleveland Circle–Park Street trains on alternating 5-minute headways.[8] On January 9, 1930, the BERy began running Washington Square-bound streetcars express from Kenmore to Kent Street in the afternoon peak due to crowding.[9] The Washington Street service was cut back to Kenmore in June 1930 but resumed that September.[10][11]

On February 7, 1931, Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street service was extended from Park Street to Lechmere using three-car trains; the Washington Street short turns were cut back to Kenmore–Park Street shuttles.[12][13] On October 23, 1932, a westward extension of the subway was opened with an underground Kenmore station. It split into separate tunnels for the Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street lines; the latter surfaced at St. Marys Street.[2]:57 The first use of two-car trains of PCC streetcars on the system was on the Beacon Street line on April 16, 1945.[14]:100 At that time, service on the line operated every 2.8 minutes at morning peak, 6 minutes midday, and 2.7 minutes in the afternoon peak.[14]:202 The first use of a three-car train of PCC cars was on July 13, 1946 for a baseball extra; they entered regular service on September 16, 1946.[14]:100 From 1940 until its 1967 naming as the C branch, the Beacon Street line had route number 61.[14]:100

The Riverside Line (later the D branch) was connected to the Beacon Street tunnel near Mountfort Street, with service beginning on July 4, 1959.[2]:63 On November 20, 1961, after 30 years running to Lechmere, the line was cut back to North Station (except Sundays).[7] It was extended back to Lechmere on March 25, 1967; Saturday service was briefly cut to Government Center from June–September 1968.[7] From June 8 to September 11, 1974, D branch trains ran over the C branch due to track work. Trains used a temporary loop at Reservoir and non-revenue tracks on Chestnut Hill Avenue to cross between the two lines.[7] From March 20 to June 25, 1976, C branch night service looped at Kenmore to allow electrical work in the central subway.[7]

Boeing LRVs were first used on the line on January 20, 1978. By March 24, three-car trains of PCC streetcars were no longer used on the C branch; all service was two-car trains of PCCs or LRVs.[7] From June to September 1979, all service on the line was with PCCs due to LRV maintenance issues.[7] The line was cut back to Government Center except at rush hour from March 21 to June 21, 1980, and cut back to Park Street non April 4, 1981.[7] The line was extended to Government Center on June 26, 1982, with LRVs providing all service.[7]

From July 24 to September 10, 1982, the line was replaced by buses to allow for track replacement. Four stops were permanently closed to speed travel times.[7] Service was extended to North Station on July 30, 1983; this was the terminal until a cut to Government Center on March 29, 1997.[7] It was extended again to North Station on January 1, 2005.[7] As of 2020, regular C branch service terminates at North Station.

All C branch service was replaced with buses from July 5 to August 1, 2020, to allow for track and platform work. Eleven grade crossings, 8,500 feet (2,600 m) of track, and the crossover at Cleveland Circle were replaced as part of the work, and all jointed track was welded together.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] In 2007, the Boston Globe published letters from riders who are in favor of these sensors,[18] a letter from the MBTA spokesperson arguing that a major study is needed before the MBTA spends money,[19] and a letter arguing that the T's spokesperson is giving too many excuses.[20]

In January 2008, the MBTA hired a consultant to study the issue.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23]

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 Disabled access Lechmere July 10, 1922 Original surface station was open from July 10, 1922 to May 23, 2020; it had not served the B branch since April 3, 1981. An elevated station (to be served by the D and E branches) is under construction.
West End Disabled access Science Park August 20, 1955 Has not served B branch since April 3, 1981. Temporarily closed on May 24, 2020 (was served by the E branch).
North End 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
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 Disabled access Government Center Subway interchange MBTA subway: Blue Line
Bus transport MBTA bus: 191, 192, 193, 352, 354
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 Disabled access Arlington November 13, 1921 Bus transport MBTA bus: 9, 55, 192, 193
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 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 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
Disabled access Coolidge Corner Bus transport MBTA bus: 66
Winchester Street 1889 Closed on July 4, 1982
Summit Avenue
Brandon Hall
Fairbanks Street
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 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. ^ a b c d Clarke, Bradley H.; Cummings, O.R. (1997). Tremont Street Subway: A Century of Public Service. Boston Street Railway Association. ISBN 0938315048.
  3. ^ "Some of Old Lines are Discontinued". Boston Globe. November 20, 1914. p. 11 – via open access
  4. ^ "Lake St and Reservoir Car Changes". Boston Globe. November 6, 1915. p. 10 – via open access
  5. ^ "New 2-Car Trains on Huntington Av Feb 6". Boston Globe. January 24, 1922. p. 18 – via open access
  6. ^ a b Humphrey, Thomas J. (August 2020). "Origin and Development of the Fixed-Route Local Bus Transportation Network in the Cities and Towns of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority District as of December 31, 1973: Revised Edition" (PDF). NETransit.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Belcher, Jonathan. "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit.
  8. ^ "Added "L" Service on Beacon-St Line". Boston Globe. December 13, 1929. p. 19 – via open access
  9. ^ "To Prevent Crowding of Reservoir-Beacon Cars". Boston Globe. January 8, 1930. p. 16 – via open access
  10. ^ "Several Changes in "L" Service Effective Today". Boston Globe. June 7, 1930. p. 9 – via open access
  11. ^ "Crash of Trolleys Blocks Governor Sq". Boston Globe. July 25, 1930. p. 8 – via open access
  12. ^ Chasson, George Jr. (1987). Lonto, Arthur J. (ed.). "Boston's Main Line El: The Formative Years 1879-1908". Headlights. Electric Railroader's Association. 49: 25–26.
  13. ^ "Lake St, Reservoir, to Lechmere trains". Boston Globe. February 5, 1931. p. 7 – via open access
  14. ^ a b c d Clarke, Bradley H. (2003). Streetcar Lines of the Hub – The 1940s. Boston Street Railway Association. ISBN 0938315056.
  15. ^ "C Branch 28-Day Full Access" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. August 2020.
  16. ^ "Google Maps". Google Inc. 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  17. ^ Masis, Julie (2 December 2007). "Beacon gets smart lights, but T isn't along for the ride". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  18. ^ "Letters". The Boston Globe. 9 December 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  19. ^ "Letters". The Boston Globe. 16 December 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  20. ^ "Letters". The Boston Globe. 30 December 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  21. ^ Masis, Julie (27 January 2008). "T may get edge on Beacon St". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  22. ^ Parker, Brock (January 11, 2011). "Brookline mulling how to speed up C Line along Beacon Street". (The Boston Globe). Retrieved 2011-08-02.
  23. ^ "Go Boston 2030 Full Plan" (PDF). 7 March 2017. p. 168. Retrieved 7 August 2017.

External links[edit]

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