Middlesex and Boston Street Railway

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The Middlesex and Boston Street Railway (M&B) was a streetcar and later bus company in the area west of Boston, Massachusetts. Streetcars last ran in 1930, and in 1972 the company's operations were merged into the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).


The company was first chartered as the Natick Electric Street Railway on August 10, 1891. The name was changed to the South Middlesex Street Railway in 1893. That company went bankrupt and a receiver was appointed May 6, 1903; the property was sold on August 15, 1907 to the newly formed Middlesex and Boston Street Railway. By 1910, Boston Suburban Electric Companies, a holding company, had bought the M&B.

In September 1964 the MBTA began subsidizing the M&B, and route numbers were given to its buses. (According to "A Chronicle of the Boston Transit System" (April 16, 1981) the subsidy agreement was signed on December 23, 1964.) The M&B was taken over by the MBTA on July 5, 1972, after a financial dispute over subsidies stopped service on June 30. The routes taken over were renumbered by adding a 5 to the beginning and were renumbered in September 1982 and some in 1996.

There is one streetcar and one bus preserved from this railway, trolley # 41, a former Lexington car, and bus # 192, a 1948 ACF Brill bus. They are both located at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Former streetcar lines[edit]

Wide median of Commonwealth Avenue in Auburndale, once used by M&B trolleys, near Norumbega Park

Auburndale–Lake Street via Commonwealth Avenue[edit]

The Commonwealth Avenue Street Railway, opened in 1895, was consolidated into the Newton Street Railway on January 1, 1904; the Newton Street Railway was merged with the M&B July 1, 1909. This line ran down the median the entire length of Commonwealth Avenue in Newton, from Norumbega Park at the western end (on the banks of the Charles River) to a connection with the Boston Elevated Railway's Commonwealth Avenue line at Lake Street at the eastern end (now Boston College, at the end of the Green Line "B" branch).

Norumbega Park, opened on June 17, 1897, was an amusement park built by the street railway company to increase traffic on the line. The park closed in 1964, long after the streetcar line, M&B's last one, was bustituted in 1930.[1]

In its final days, this was the 35 Auburndale–Lake Street bus route, until taken over by the MBTA, when it became the 535 Auburndale–Boston College via Commonwealth Avenue. It was not actually picked up by the MBTA in July 1972, when they took over the M&B, but was restarted as a rush-hour only service in January 1973, and discontinued in June 1976.


From Bedford, cars left every 15 minutes in the summer, and every half-hour in the winter, for

  • Boston via Lexington with a change at Arlington Heights
  • Maynard and Hudson with a change at Concord
  • Lowell with a change at Billerica

Fare limits were at the town lines of Bedford with Lexington, Concord, and Billerica.

The line from Lexington ran down Bedford Street and the Great Road, diverting along Loomis Street and South Road to connect with the Boston and Maine Railroad station. A passing track was located on the north side of Bedford Common.

As at Norumbega, an amusement park was built in Lexington near the Bedford town line, to attract riders from the city.

The Bedford–Arlington Heights bus, today's 62 (and 62/76) was M&B route 29 and MBTA route 529.

The car-barn and electricity generator were located in North Lexington north of Bedford Street and just west of the corner of what is now Worthen Road. The complex was composed of at least a long wooden building (the carbarn) and a squat brick structure with a short smokestack (the generating plant); that complex was a lumberyard for many years and was redeveloped in the late 1980s.

A brief history of car lines in Bedford may be found in "Wilderness Town," a book printed for the 1976 Bicentennial (copies at the Bedford Free Public Library).




A photograph dated 1910 of a trolley car passing the Lexington Minuteman statue is on page 104 of a photohistory in the Lexington Room of the Lexington Public Library. The photo is credited to the Lexington Historical Society.

The Lexington–Woburn line ran from Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington via Woburn Street and Lexington Street to the Woburn B&M station.


See Newton and Boston Street Railway

Newton Corner–Central Square Waltham[edit]

Newton Corner–Riverside[edit]

27 Newton Corner–Riverside via Auburndale and Central Square Waltham

Waltham Center–Lexington Center[edit]

25 Waltham Center–Lexington Center via Lexington Street


The Waltham and Newton Street Railway was chartered on July 13, 1866, and began service on August 31, 1868. Its tracks ran from the split between Pleasant Street and Main Street, west of Waltham center, via Main Street, Moody Street, Crescent Street and Moody Street to the Newton line, then via Lexington Street, River Street, Elm Street and Washington Street to end at Highland Street in West Newton.

In 1889 the Newton Street Railway bought the line, and the Newton Street Railway was merged with the M&B July 1, 1909. It later (by 1964) became much of the 20 Newton Corner–Riverside via Roberts and Central Square Waltham bus line, with the 27 Newton Corner–Riverside via Auburndale and Central Square Waltham using much of Crescent Street (the 20 went straight through on Moody Street). This is now the 553 Roberts–Downtown Boston via Newton Corner and Central Square Waltham, with Crescent Street served by the 558 Riverside–Downtown Boston via Auburndale, Central Square Waltham and Newton Corner.

Watertown Square–Waltham[edit]

23 Watertown Square – Stow & Main Street Waltham

Wayland–South Natick[edit]

36 Wayland–South Natick