Boston Public Transportation - Access for Power Wheelchairs?

by Carla

Older style Green Line cars

Older style Green Line cars

Is public transportation in Boston accessible for wheelchairs? - Thanks, Carla

Susan's reply: Buses are definitely accessible - they all have bridges or ramps, depending on whether they're low or high, to make getting on easy, and there are special places for wheelchairs inside. To the best of my knowledge, the commuter ferries are also accessible, and most, if not all, of the train stations are as well.

The T - our subway - is a slightly different matter. Keep in mind that parts of the system are really, really old - well over 100 years old. Retrofitting some stations has been challenging for all sorts of reasons. In others that have elevators, they're not at all easy to find due to the way the stations were built. Yet another challenge is that most underground stations have multiple entrances from the street, and not all will have elevators.

I believe that most stations are accessible on the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines, and you can request bridge plates for getting on and off the trains, or bring your own. The Silver Line is really buses, and they're totally accessible.

However, the Green Line is a different story. First, it uses trolley cars, not trains, and it's also the oldest line. Some stations are accessible but I believe that others are not (my sources of information for this, by the way, are the MBTA website and my own observations), plus while the Green Line has some stations, many of the places where it stops are just that - places where it stops. In other words, not stations. The trolleys tend to be high off the ground and while some entrances will be accessible, not all are (in the photos above, you can't see the short flight of stairs inside the car). This can cause problems for a lot of people (anyone with a baby, a stroller, a huge bag of groceries, a tricky knee, a broken leg, etc., etc.).

What I would urge you to do before coming is to spend some time on the MBTA's website ( and check the status of each station that you might use. The website is actually very detailed and the station-level information is excellent. The best way to find it is to type "accessible" into the search box. You'll get a bunch of pages, and probably find most of what you need to know, although it probably doesn't point out the reality of the Green Line quite as bluntly as I just did.

A good thing to know about Boston, though, is that it's mostly flat and most everything is very close together, so you may not need to take the T very much.


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