South Station (MBTA station)

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Not to be confused with South Street (MBTA station).
For the commuter rail and Amtrak station, see South Station.
Outbound train at South Station Under on 100th anniversary, December 2016.JPG
A southbound Red Line train at South Station in December 2016
Location Atlantic Avenue & Summer Street
Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°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
Owned by MBTA
Platforms 2 side platforms (Red Line)
2 side platforms (Silver Line tunnel)
1 side platform (Silver Line street level)
Tracks 2 (Red Line)
Connections Bus transport MBTA Bus: 4, 7, 11, 448, 449, 459
Railway line MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak at South Station
Bus transport Intercity buses at South Station Bus Terminal
Structure type Underground
Bicycle facilities "Pedal and Park" bicycle cage
Disabled access Yes
Opened August 22, 1901 (Atlantic Avenue Elevated)[1]
December 3, 1916 (Red Line)[2][1]
December 17, 2004 (Silver Line)[3][1]
Closed September 30, 1938 (Atlantic Avenue Elevated)[1]
Passengers (2013) 25,037 (weekday average boardings)[4]
Preceding station   MBTA.svg MBTA   Following station
toward Alewife
Red Line
toward Ashmont or Braintree
Terminus Silver Line
Silver Line
toward Design Center
One-way operation
Silver Line Terminus
  Future services  
Terminus Silver Line
Opening 2017
toward Chelsea
  Former services  
Terminus Silver Line
Closed 2009
toward City Point
Boston Elevated Railway
Terminus Atlantic Avenue Elevated
Closed 1938
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.[5] Eight MBTA Commuter Rail and three Amtrak intercity rail services terminate at South Station; many of those passengers then transfer to the subway to reach other destinations in the city. With 25,037 daily boardings by a 2013 passenger count, South Station is the busiest station on the MBTA subway system.[4]


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.[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]

Tile mosaic being restored in 2005

A second renovation began around 1980 and consisted of the adding of a passageway to already existing stairs and escalators upstairs to the main terminal building.[8] An entrance was also added to the Federal Archives 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.[6]

The final renovation was triggered by the massive highway project known as the "Big Dig". 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.[6] This project was completed at a cost of 35 million dollars.[9]

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.[10] Currently, those wishing to take the Silver Line to Dudley Square can walk to the Atlantic Avenue side of South Station (by Track 1) and cross Atlantic Avenue to the street-level Silver Line bus stop.

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.[11]

Station layout[edit]

G Street Level Exit/Entrance
SL4 platform (Essex St) Silver Line toward Dudley Square (Tufts Medical Center)
M Mezzanine Crossover, fare control, to entrances/exits and underground passageways
SL1/SL2 platform Silver Line exiting passengers only (Terminus)
SL1/SL2 platform Silver Line toward Logan Airport (SL1) or Design Center (SL2) (Courthouse)
Platform level
Side platform, doors will open on the right
Inbound Red Line toward Alewife (Downtown Crossing)
Outbound Red Line toward Ashmont or Braintree (Broadway)
Side platform, doors will open on the right

The Red Line part of the station has two tracks and two side platforms. The Silver Line SL4 service that began in October 2009[12][13] stops at Atlantic Avenue and Essex Street near the Bus Terminal.[12] Other Silver Line service is provided in an underground tunnel near the Red Line platforms. There are underground passageways upstairs to the inter-city rail station and many restaurants. There are entrances at street level on all four corners of the intersection of Summer Street and Atlantic Avenue.[14]

Bus connections[edit]

Aside from the Silver Line, six MBTA Bus routes stop on Summer Street east of the station entrances:[14]


  1. ^ a b c d Belcher, Jonathan (27 June 2015). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "New Tunnel Station is Opened". Boston Daily Globe. December 4, 1916. 
  3. ^ "New Silver Line 'T' Stop Opens: Tunnel Connects South Station, World Trade Center". The Boston Channel. 17 December 2004. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14 ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Project for Public Spaces, Retrieved December 31, 2010
  6. ^ a b c O'Regan, Gerry (2012). "MBTA Red Line". David Pirmann. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Tsipis, Yanni K. Boston's Central Artery. Arcadia. p. 96. ISBN 9780738505268. 
  8. ^ NYCSubway Picture. Retrieved January 3, 2011
  9. ^ Intermodal Stations. Retrieved December 31, 2010
  10. ^ Annual Status Report to DEP, July 9, 2010
  11. ^ Daniel, Mac (23 January 2005). "South Bay shoppers don't rush home with their treasures". Boston Globe. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "South Station Direct Connect". MassDOT. Archived from the original on October 25, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Press Release". MBTA. October 13, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "South Station Neighborhood Map" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. April 2012. 

External links[edit]