Useful Notes: The T

"Pahk Street. Change heah fa' dah Green Line. Dorrs on both sides."note 

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (the metonym "The T" can describe either this organization in general, or refer specifically to the subway system it runs) is the public transit operator for the city of Boston and environs. It consists of a subway/streetcar/trackless trolley system, a network of buses, the T Commuter Rail (which shares large amounts of trackage and station space with Amtrak), and a harbor ferry service. Like many American subway services, it was created out of a mishmash of privately owned streetcar and elevated train lines in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. One of these, the Park Street-Ashmont Line, began service in 1897, giving the T the title of "oldest subway in America." The T is the fourth-busiest subway in the United States, moving just short of 600,000 subway riders and a total of 1.3 million fares across all modes daily.

The T proper consists of four subway lines (Green, Red, Orange, Blue), as well as a high-speed bus line (Silver).

Green Line: This is a light rail/streetcar line. Extends from Lechmere on the Cambridge side of the Charles River, across to the Museum of Science, then approximately west-southwest underground through Prudential Center/Copley Square (the "E" branch splits off here and heads more sharply south, through Northeastern University and the Museum of Fine Arts to Heath Street), continuing west to Kenmore Square, where it emerges to street level and splits into three streetcar lines, "B" (due west through Boston University to Boston College and Newton), "C" (west-southwest to Cleveland Circle and Brookline), and "D" (west-southwest past Fenway Park and all the way out to Riverside).

Red Line: One of the system's two main north-south lines, the Red Line extends from Alewife north of Cambridge, through Harvard's and MIT's campuses (from which the line's color code arises), across the river and past Beacon Hill, then continuing south through South Boston, Dorchester and ultimately splitting into two spurs, one due south to Braintree and one south-southwest to Ashmont. (The Mattapan High Speed Line, a heritage streetcar line operated with PCC streetcars, also originates at Ashmont, heading due west.)

Orange Line: The other north-south line... kind of. It starts in Oak Grove way up in Malden, continues south through Charlestown, crosses the river and continues south-southwest through Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, ultimately ending in Forest Hills.

Blue Line: Cutting on a northeast diagonal through the city, this line starts downtown at Bowdoin, goes under Boston Harbor out to Logan International Airport, and from there along the shore to Revere Beach and Wonderland. This line is unique in that the line runs on electric third rail from Logan Airport to Bowdoin in the underground section, but runs on overhead catenary from the Airport to Wonderland, on the above ground section.

As subways go, the T falls somewhere on a continuum between the outright filth of New York's subways and the antiseptic Washington Metro. It's very safe, reasonably clean, and far, far more efficient than trying to brave the hells of driving on congested streets filled with Boston drivers. Likewise, the T isn't quite as iconic as NYC's subways or Chicago's L, but just about any work set in the Greater Boston area will show the T somewhere, even if it's just in a stock scenery shot. (Red Line trains crossing the Charles River tend to show up very often in film and TV.)