South Station (subway)

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South Station
Northbound Red Line train at South Station, December 2019.JPG
Red Line train at South Station in December 2019
General information
Other namesSouth Station Under
LocationAtlantic Avenue and Summer Street
Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°21′09″N 71°03′19″W / 42.35261°N 71.05536°W / 42.35261; -71.05536Coordinates: 42°21′09″N 71°03′19″W / 42.35261°N 71.05536°W / 42.35261; -71.05536
Line(s)Cambridge-Dorchester Tunnel (Red Line)
South Boston Transitway (Silver Line)
Platforms2 side platforms (Red Line)
2 side platforms (Silver Line tunnel)
1 side platform (Silver Line street)
Tracks2 (Red Line)
ConnectionsBus transport MBTA bus: 4, 7, 11
Mainline rail interchange MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak at South Station
Bus transport Intercity buses at South Station Bus Terminal
Bicycle facilities"Pedal and Park" bicycle cage
Disabled accessYes
OpenedAugust 22, 1901 (Atlantic Avenue Elevated)[1]
December 3, 1916 (Red Line)[2][1]
December 17, 2004 (Silver Line)[1]
ClosedSeptember 30, 1938 (Atlantic Avenue Elevated)[1]
Rebuilt1988–1993, 2002–2004
FY201924,639 (weekday average boardings)[3]
Preceding station MBTA.svg MBTA Following station
Downtown Crossing
toward Alewife
Red Line Broadway
toward Ashmont or Braintree
Terminus Silver Line Courthouse
Silver Line Courthouse
Silver Line Courthouse
toward Chelsea
One-way operation
Silver Line
(at surface stop)
Chinatown Gate
toward Nubian
Former services
Preceding station MBTA.svg MBTA Following station
Terminus Silver Line
Closed 2009
toward City Point
Preceding station Boston Elevated Railway Following station
Terminus Atlantic Avenue Elevated
Closed 1938
Rowes Wharf
toward Dudley
Atlantic Avenue Elevated
Rush hours only
Closed 1938

South Station (also signed as South Station Under) is a transfer station on the MBTA rapid transit Red Line and bus rapid transit Silver Line, located at Summer Street and Atlantic Avenue in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It is a part of the South Station complex, the second busiest transportation center in New England.[4] Eight MBTA Commuter Rail and three Amtrak intercity rail services terminate at South Station; many of those passengers then transfer to the rapid transit lines to reach other destinations in the city. With 24,639 daily boardings in 2019, South Station is the busiest station on the MBTA rapid transit system.[3]


In this early 1900s view, the Atlantic Avenue Elevated passes in front of South Station. The old elevated station is on the far right.

A station serving South Station was located on the Atlantic Avenue Elevated. Service on the Atlantic Avenue "El" was discontinued on September 20, 1938. The structure itself was torn down in the spring of 1942. Before stairs were added, passengers wishing to change lines from the underground station—itself opened on December 3, 1916—had to use a paper transfer and go outside to change trains.[5] The underground station had four staircases and one escalator leading from the surface to the mezzanine, and two exit escalators.[6]

In 1957, the original fare lobby and the rounded top of the tunnel to the west were removed during construction of the Dewey Square Tunnel. The tunnel was rebuilt with a flat ceiling, while the fare lobby was moved to the east closer to the South Station headhouse.[7] In the 1970s, an artwork by Sylvana Cenci entitled Wheels in Motion was placed in the station. Cenci created the artwork by using explosives to warp a steel plate. She had previously been runner-up in a 1971 competition for public art at State station.[8][9]

Tile mosaic being restored in 2005

A second renovation began around 1980. An entrance was also added to the Federal Reserve Bank Building as well as a passageway under Summer Street connecting the other street entrances. In 1985, the Red Line platforms were extended 60 feet on either end to allow 6-car trains.[5] A passageway between the Red Line lobby and the interior of South Station opened in June 1990.[10]

The final renovation was triggered by the Big Dig highway project. Since the Red Line tunnel beneath Summer Street is perpendicular to Atlantic Avenue, where the new I-93 northbound tunnel was to be built, builders had to tunnel under the tracks. After the first tunnel was complete, another tunnel was added along with a station for the Silver Line. Since the new tunnel was built at the former fare level, another fare level was constructed a level above. This allowed combined access for the Silver and Red lines. The original lobby that was destroyed was replaced by stairways.[5] This project was completed at a cost of $35 million.[11] An additional $13 million renovation of the Red Line level was undertaken.[12]

After the first sections of the Silver Line opened in 2002 and 2004, a Phase III was proposed which would build a tunnel connecting South Station and the South Boston Waterfront section with the Washington Street section of the line. In 2010, the project was placed on indefinite hold.[13] However, route SL4, operating to a surface stop on Essex Street at Atlantic Avenue, began service on October 13, 2009.[14]

In early 2005, a blue and white tile mosaic reading 'South Station Under' was discovered during renovations to the Red Line platform. The MBTA had the mosaic restored to its original condition during the project.[15] Network, a 650-square-foot (60 m2) glass mosaic map by Ellen Harvey, was built on the interior walls of the northeast headhouse in 2019.[16]

Plans for wayfinding signage, lighting, and other station improvements were completed by May 2021.[17]

Station layout[edit]

South Station has entrances at street level on all four corners of the intersection of Summer Street and Atlantic Avenue.[18] The Red Line has two tracks and two side platforms on the lower level. Silver Line SL1, SL2, and SL3 service is provided in a tunnel above the Red Line platforms, Silver Line SL4 service can be accessed at a surface bus top one block south of the station entrances at Atlantic Avenue and Essex Street.[19][20]

G Street level Exit/entrance, South Station platforms,      Silver Line – SL4 stop
M Mezzanine Fare control
B1 Side platform
Inbound      Silver Line termination lane
Outbound      Silver Line – SL1 toward Logan Airport terminals (Courthouse)
     Silver Line – SL2 toward Design Center (Courthouse)
     Silver Line – SL3 toward Chelsea (Courthouse)
Side platform
B2 Side platform
Northbound      Red Line toward Alewife (Downtown Crossing)
Southbound      Red Line toward Ashmont or Braintree (Broadway)
Side platform

Bus connections[edit]

Aside from the Silver Line, three MBTA bus routes stop on Summer Street east of the station entrances:[18]

The station is also located about a block away from the South Station Bus Terminal, main gateway for long-distance buses in Boston.


  1. ^ a b c d Belcher, Jonathan. "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). Boston Street Railway Association.
  2. ^ "New Tunnel Station is Opened". Boston Daily Globe. December 4, 1916. p. 5 – via open access
  3. ^ a b "A Guide to Ridership Data". MassDOT/MBTA Office of Performance Management and Innovation. June 22, 2020. p. 6.
  4. ^ Project for Public Spaces Archived 2013-06-24 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved December 31, 2010
  5. ^ a b c O'Regan, Gerry (2012). "MBTA Red Line". David Pirmann. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  6. ^ ""South Station Under" Opens Tomorrow". Boston Globe. December 2, 1916. p. 16 – via open access
  7. ^ Tsipis, Yanni K. (2001-02-01). Boston's Central Artery. Arcadia. p. 96. ISBN 9780738505268.
  8. ^ Alonso, Jessica (April 5, 1977). "Art from underground". Boston Globe. p. 20 – via open access
  9. ^ Kay, Jane Holtz (July 11, 1971). "A look at some underground art". Boston Globe. p. 186 – via open access
  10. ^ "Kinder to pedestrians". The Boston Globe. June 23, 1990 – via
  11. ^ Intermodal Stations Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved December 31, 2010
  12. ^ "Accessibility Projects at the MBTA" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. March 2005.
  13. ^ Annual Status Report to DEP, July 9, 2010
  14. ^ "PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION, MAYOR MENINO LAUNCH SILVER LINE DIRECT CONNECT SERVICE TO SOUTH STATION" (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. October 13, 2009.
  15. ^ Daniel, Mac (23 January 2005). "South Bay shoppers don't rush home with their treasures". Boston Globe. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  16. ^ "WTS-Boston unveils public art celebrating women in transportation at South Station". New England Real Estate Journal. June 28, 2019.
  17. ^ Brelsford, Laura (May 24, 2021). "System-Wide Accessibility Initiatives—May 2021" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Department of System-Wide Accessibility. p. 5.
  18. ^ a b "South Station Neighborhood Map" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. April 2012.
  19. ^ "South Station Direct Connect". MassDOT. Archived from the original on October 25, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. ^ "Press Release". MBTA. October 13, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2010.

External links[edit]