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College and University Student Guide to the T

customers wait for arriving green line train at brookline village

Each fall, more than 150,000 students arrive in Boston for the new school year. Many of these students use the T—an expansive network of trains, buses, and ferries with stops near dozens of colleges in the Boston area. And, in most cases, it’s more affordable and convenient than having a car in the city.

Whether you’re meeting up with friends, volunteering, or going to work or class, this guide will help you navigate the T like a pro.

Getting to Know the T

Red Line crossing the Longfellow bridge

If you plan on taking the T to class or work, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the basics of the system. Here are some of the most important things you should know.

How to Take the T

customers waiting at bus stop in central square

The MBTA might feel overwhelming at first, but it’s a lot simpler than it looks! Here are the main things you need to know to feel confident taking the T.

Terminals and Transfer Stations

There are 3 major train and bus terminals in Boston: North Station, South Station, and Back Bay. These transit hubs connect the Commuter Rail, subway, and bus to each other and to other regional transit systems. You don't need to be at one of these stations to transfer to another line or mode though—there are stations and stops along each route that provide convenient mode-to-mode transfers (these are sometimes called intermodal stations).

Depending on where you live, you may need to make at least 1 transfer during your trip. Generally, your first fare payment includes a transfer—going from 1 line to another at a subway station is free. And when you use a CharlieCard, your subway fare includes a free transfer to Local Bus. 

Learn more about transfers

Planning Your Route

Before you decide which T pass works best for you, we suggest figuring out which modes and routes you’ll be taking most often. 

The easiest way to figure out your route is to work backwards. See which line your school is on first, and find a nearby stop or station. And use our Trip Planner to get line and mode recommendations for your most common trips.

Here are some convenient stops and routes near Boston-area schools.

How to Pay

customer paying fare with charliecard

You can pay your subway and bus fares with a CharlieCard, CharlieTicket, or cash. Most people who live in Boston use a CharlieCard—a reloadable plastic card that’s valid on all subway and bus lines. They’re great for frequent T riders because:

  • They’re easy to manage: Load online and at select subway and bus stations

  • They save money: Discounted one-way trips on subways and buses

  • They save time: Quickly tap into stations and vehicles to pay your fare

CharlieTickets, on the other hand, are best for riders who only use the T occasionally or who transfer to other modes, like the Commuter Rail or ferry.

Learn more about CharlieCards and CharlieTickets

Choosing Your T Pass

Once you’ve determined what routes and modes you’ll use the most, you’ll have a better idea of which type of pass will work for you.

More Guides

Visitor's Guide Clickable Graphic
Subway Guide clickable graphic
Bus Guide Clickable Graphic
Commuter Rail Guide Clickable Graphic
Clickable graphic for the Ferry Guide: vertical lines with a colored pattern of yellow, light blue, and dark blue

More Guides

Visitor's Guide Clickable Graphic
Subway Guide clickable graphic
Bus Guide Clickable Graphic
Commuter Rail Guide Clickable Graphic
Clickable graphic for the Ferry Guide: vertical lines with a colored pattern of yellow, light blue, and dark blue