T Facts

Q&A | Did you know...

Why is it called the {Red, Blue, Green, Orange} line?
The colors of the lines are related to the areas which they serve.

Until the Alewife extension was built in the 1980s, the northern terminus of the Red Line was Harvard Square, so it was named for the "crimson" of Harvard.
Much of the Green Line runs through Boston's Emerald Necklace (a system of interconnecting parks surrounding the city).
The Blue Line runs under Boston Harbor (the first subway line in the country to run under a large body of water), and water, of course, is blue.
The Orange Line, prior to the late-'80s, was an Elevated line over Washington Street. Washington Street used to be called "Orange Way". Hence, the Orange Line.

The new Silver Line is called that because it will be one of the fastest bus transit systems, and silver is a color often associated with speed (ie: silver bullet).

There are B, C, D and E branches of the Green Line.  Why isn't there an A?
There was an A line - it branched off the B line at Packards Corner (a.k.a Brighton Ave.) and ran to Watertown.  Service was "temporarily" suspended in June of 1969.  Throughout the 1970s, there was talk of returning service to the line, but it never happened.  The yard at the end of the line was used for repairs of streetcars and trolley-busses.  The tracks remained through the 1980s, but in the 1990s they were removed or paved over in most areas, thereby sealing the fate of the A line. If you take a Boston College Green Line train, you can see the single wire of the A line as it leaves the B line when Commonwealth forks left and Brighton forks right. Currently, the #57 bus follows the route of the A line.
Why doesn't the Arborway line go to Arborway?
Service on the Arborway line was "suspended" between Heath Street and Arborway in 1985.  It is unlikely it will ever be restored.  The tracks still run to Arborway (adjacent to the Forrest Hills Orange Line station), but the loading area at Arborway has been converted into a bus stop.  The M.B.T.A. seems reluctant to run streetcars in "mixed traffic" areas (i.e.: where the street cars run down the street instead of on a central median) due to the high number of accidents caused by drivers who can't grasp the concept of "right-of-way".
The MBTA is currently restoring the Arborway Line as part of a legal obligation to the state as mitigation for the Big Dig.
Was there an Elevated line in Boston?
Yes, there was. The Orange Line used to run from Forest Hills up Washington Street though downtown to Everett. The structure was elevated to the south of Essex (now Chinatown) and to the north of North Station. The northern part of the line was replaced in 1976 with the Haymarket-North Extension, which changed the route to the one we know today. The southern part of the line was replaced by the Southwest Corridor in 1987. The El was demolished soon afterwards. The only remainder of it today can be seen where Washington Street crosses the Mass Pike extension - if you look to the east of the bridge, you can see where the brackets for the El supports still exist.
There is also an Elevated structure for the Green line in the North End. It runs from a portal just past Haymarket to the viaduct at Science Park. This will be torn down in 2004, and the last El in Boston will be gone. The stone viaduct across the Charles River will remain, however.
What are Washington, Park Street Under, Scollay Square, Scollay Under, Columbia?
They are all former stations on the T. The following stations still exist and were simply renamed: Washington became Downtown Crossing; Park Street Under is the Red Line platform at Park Street; Scollay Under is the Blue Line platform at Government Center; Scollay Square was mostly demolished, but part of it survives as Government Center; Columbia was renamed JFK/Umass.
What's the deal with the MTA Song?
It was written in 1948 as a campaign song for the mayorial election in Boston. See this page for more information.
I heard Tom Lehrer wrote a song about the T?
He did indeed. Alas, it was only performed at rare occasions and, to my knowledge, has never made it onto an album. I do have a copy, and I am working on obtaining permission to post it.

here are the lyrics:

H is for my alma mater Harvard,
C is Central, next stop on the line,
K is for the cozy Kendall station, and
C is Charles that overlooks the brine.
P is Park Street, uh, Pahk Street, busy Boston center
and W is Washington you see...
Put them all together, they spell:
HCCKKCC... PW... (spitting sound)
Which is just about what Boston means to me
(It's a parody of the children's song "Mother" and is sung to the same tune:
"M" is for the million things she gave me,
"O" means only that she's growing old,
"T" is for the tears she shed to save me,
"H" is for her heart of purest gold;
"E" is for her eyes, with love-light shining,
"R" means right, and right she'll always be,
Put them all together, they spell "MOTHER,"
A word that means the world to me.
Howard Johnson (c. 1915)

Did you know....
...the Green Line isn't the only line to use letters to designate its different branches. The A, B, and C branches of the Red Line are the Ashmont, Braintree, and Alewife branches, respectively.

...streetcars still run on the T. Take the Red Line to Ashmont, and hop on the Ashmont-Mattapan High-Speed Line. It uses old streetcars from the Green Line. If you look at the destination indicator inside some of the cards, you'll see that it still says "Park Street" and other such green line destinations.

...the M.T.A. took pride in the speed of the Green Line. All over the line were posted signs that said " __ Minutes to Park Street". The last of these signs exists at Lechmere, just over the Passenger viaduct, where it said "12 Minutes to Park Street".