MARAC/NEA Spring 2015: Getting Around Boston


This year’s NEA-MARAC meeting in Boston is propitiously scheduled near the end of March. So while cold weather will undoubtedly be lingering, the anticipation of Spring will be in the air. Since Boston is nestled within narrow geographic parameters, this means you may well choose to hoof it to many of your destinations. But since it is also a big city, you have your pick of vehicular transportation as well!

Public transit
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, popularly known as “the T,” is Boston and greater Boston’s most reliable way of getting around efficiently IMHO. Comprising of both trains and buses, the network can deliver you to destinations from Salem to Cambridge to Quincy. Trains are pretty reliable, while the buses sometimes fall victim to traffic congestion. Some things to keep in mind with this option:
·         Cost: a single fare can cost up to $2.65. If you are running around a lot during your trip, that can add up fast! For visitors, I usually recommend buying an unlimited Link pass, which are currently $12 for a single day and $19 for a week and cover buses and trains. Alternatively, if you can get your hands on a Charlie Card, you can add money a bit at a time. If you end up with money left over on your pass or card, you can always hand it off to a local colleague or friendly street stranger!
·         Buying a ticket/pass: On buses and green line trains that are above ground, you can pay in cash. Most below-ground transit stations will have machines for you to buy a ticket or a pass with cash or card. To add money online (or at a machine), you need to have a physical Charlie Card – which you can procure for free from any Customer Service Agent at these stations.
·         Subway lines: The most geographically relevant lines for the conference will be the Green line and the Red line. The Green line runs from East to West and covers a lot of the downtown area, Back Bay, the Fenway, &c. The Red line intersects with the Green at Park Station (next to the Boston Commons), and runs North to South, up through Cambridge to Somerville. If you’re interested in checking out other areas of the city, you can utilize the Blue and Orange – or even the Silver (which is good to take from the airport to get into Boston) – lines.

          Schedule: The T runs from 5:30am-ish to midnight-ish on the weekdays. Within the past year, weekend nights were extended to 2am (hallelujah!). Cabs are your best bet outside of these time restrictions.

 

Cabs
If public transit isn’t your game, taxi cabs are in abundance, as are the recently popular Uber and Lyft options. Before you jump in the back of a cab, be aware that some cab companies are cash only and aren’t equipped with a card reader. As mentioned above, the silver line will get you from the airport into Boston proper easily, while a cab ride from there will probably be about $20-30.
Rental cars
If you plan on renting a vehicle during your stay, be prepared for parking and traffic frustrations. Sometimes you can get lucky with a parking place, but on average parking a car near – say Little Italy – will result in spending twenty minutes searching for free parking perhaps only to sigh and pay $14 for a spot instead.
(Many thanks to Tricia Patterson, National Digital Stewardship Resident, MIT for this post.)
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