Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Green Line (MBTA)
The Green Line is one of the four MBTA subway lines in the Boston, Massachusetts metro area. It runs in part over the Tremont Street Subway , the oldest subway tunnel in North America, which opened in stages between September 1, 1897 and September 3, 1898. The elevated line between the Canal Street portal at North Station and Lechmere Square was opened June 1, 1912; as of 2004 it is now closed and is being demolished, the demolished portions to be replaced with a tunnel through the North Station parking garage with a new portal being constructed west of the Fleet Center. The Boylston Street subway opened from Charles and Boylston Streets to a portal at Kenmore St. at Governor's Square on October 3, 1914. The Kenmore St. portal was replaced by a new, four-track underground Kenmore Station on October 23, 1932. The Huntington Ave. subway opened February 16, 1941, allowing the closure of the portal at Charles and Boylston. Finally, the Highland Branch of the Boston and Albany railroad was converted to high-speed trolley service on July 4, 1959.
One segment of the original Tremont Street Subway has remained abandoned since April 6, 1962, between Boylston Station and a portal at Tremont and Broadway in what is now the Theatre District. It has been proposed to reopen this tunnel for use by the Silver Line.
The modern-day Green Line has its northern terminus at Lechmere Station in Cambridge. From here it runs east and then south through Boston, diverging once west of Copley Square, and then into three separate branches at Kenmore Square. The Copley branch is the E Line, which presently terminates at the Heath Street station. The Kenmore branches are the B Line, terminating at the Boston College station, the C Line, terminating at the Cleveland Circle station in Brookline, and the D Line, terminating at the Riverside station in Newton.
A fifth line branched off the Commonwealth Ave. line at Packard's Corner running via Union Square Allston, Brighton Center, and Oak Square, to Watertown Square. This service was suspended on June 21, 1969 due to a streetcar shortage, and was never resumed. (Although the route-letter scheme had been introduced two years prior to its closure, the "A" designation was never signed on streetcars operating to Watertown. It was, however, included in the destination signs on the Boeing-Vertol LRVs ordered in the mid-1970s, when reopening the Watertown service was still under consideration.) The A line tracks remained in non-revenue service to access maintenance facilities at Watertown until 1994.
Rolling stock and accessibility
Unlike the Red Line, Blue Line and Orange Line, all of which run urban heavy rail cars and use stations with elevated platforms (so that the car is level with the platform and thus the cars are easily handicap-accessible), the Green Line is a trolley/streetcar line and has used a variety of trolley cars and light rail vehicles throughout its history.
For many years, the line used the PCC streetcars developed during the Depression. These were finally phased out in favor of new light rail cars supplied by Boeing-Vertol in the mid-1970s. A second generation of LRVs was ordered from the Japanese firm, Kinki Sharyo . These later Kinki-Sharyo cars now make up the bulk of the Green Line's rolling stock.
(One of the earliest surviving pre-PCC cars can still be seen parked on a sidetrack at the Boylston station. Several of the surviving PCC cars are now run on the Ashmont-Mattapan portion of the Red Line, while others are now used in the San Francisco, California Muni system on their F Market line historic street railway.)
Originally, none of the Green Line stations included elevated platforms and the passengers had to step up into the vehicles, limiting accessibility for the handicapped. To address this, two changes have been made:
- Elevated platforms at some stops, and
- An attempt to phase-in low-floor streetcars that would be accessible from street level (without the use of elevated station platforms)
47 low-floor cars have been purchased from the Italian vendor Breda. Unfortunately, these have proven to be problematic and difficult to maintain. Breda cars have failed three times as often as normal subway cars. The MBTA was forced to spend an additional US$9.5 million to modify tracks to prevent the derailings that were proving common with the Breda cars (and echoing early problems with the Boeing stock).
In December 2004, the MBTA finally canceled the orders for the remaining 53 cars still to be delivered as part of the Breda contract, ending the 9-year, quarter-billion-dollar deal with Breda. The 47 Breda cars delivered in the 100-car deal have already cost the MBTA US$140 million. Now, the MBTA is considering spending the US$85 million withheld from Breda on another set of cars manufactured by Kinki-Sharyo . The MBTA has been criticized for its failure to assess Breda's reliability before and during the deal.
(See References section for Tony Flint's Globe article on the cancellation of the Breda deal.)
In addition to the current lines, many other streetcar lines connected to the system. The following remained in 1961:
- A Line, splitting from the B line at Packard's Corner and heading along Brighton Avenue, Cambridge Street, Washington Street, Tremont Street, Park Street and Galen Street to Watertown.
- E Line continuing beyond its end, along South Huntington Avenue, Centre Street and South Street, to Forest Hills.
- Leaving the tunnel onto Tremont Street (from the split at Boylston, and ending at Lenox Street.
- Coming off the Haymarket Incline onto a lower level at North Station and running under the Charlestown Elevated , along Causeway Street, the Charlestown Bridge , around City Square to Main Street, around Sullivan Square , with a connection there to the Elevated, as well as track connections to the Boston and Maine and Boston and Albany Railroads, and then along Alford Street to Everett Shops (where there were connections once again to the B&A).
At one time, the Washington Street Elevated and Charlestown Elevated (later part of the Orange Line) were connected into the Green Line tunnel.
- Lechmere (Cambridge Street, Cambridge)
- Science Park (Charles River Dam, Boston, serving the Museum of Science, Boston)
- North Station (Canal Street, Boston)
- Haymarket (Congress and New Sudbury Streets, Boston), with free transfer to the Orange Line
- Government Center (Tremont, Court and Cambridge Streets, Boston, serving Boston City Hall ), with free transfer to the Blue Line
- Park Street (Tremont, Park and Winter Streets, Boston, at the Boston Common), with free transfer to the Orange and Red Lines
- Boylston (Tremont and Boylston Streets, Boston, with free transfer to the Silver Line)
- Arlington (Boylston and Arlington Streets, Boston)
- Copley (Copley Square, Boston)
- (West of Copley, the E Line diverges; see below)
- Hynes Convention Center/ICA (Massachusetts Ave and Newbury Street, Boston; formerly Auditorium)
- Kenmore (Kenmore Square, Boston, serving Fenway Park)
- (West of Kenmore, the line divides into the individual B, C, and D Lines; see below)
As of February, 2005, the portion of the Green Line between North Station and Lechmere Stations remains closed. Replacement service using diesel buses is provided between Government Center and Lechmere (and the three intervening stops including the stations that remain in service). Because traffic frequently delays these buses, taking the Red Line to Kendall Square may be a better alternative. The reconstruction of this portion of the Green Line began in April, 2004 and is forecast to be completed sometime in the late spring of 2005.
The "Boston College" line is the first of the three lines that separate west of Kenmore. It travels along the surface of Commonwealth Avenue. The B Line stations are primarily named for the cross-streets of Commonwealth Avenue.
Four stops will close temporarily on for 6-8 months starting April 20, 2005 as part of a stop elimination pilot program to speed up service (which was slower than the parallel bus service; these were all close to other stops. Almost 73% of the 1142 riders surveyed wanted those four stops gone.
- Blandford Street
- Boston University East (at Granby Street, Boston, the first of three stations serving Boston University)
- Boston University Central (at Marsh Chapel, Boston)
- Boston University West (at Amory Street, Boston)
- St. Paul Street
- Pleasant Street
- Babcock Street
- Packard's Corner (Packard's Corner at Brighton Ave., Allston, where the Watertown line formerly diverged)
- Fordham Road (to be closed temporarily)
- Harvard Avenue (at Harvard Avenue, Allston)
- Griggs Street
- Allston Street
- Warren Street
- Summit Avenue (to be closed temporarily)
- Washington Street
- Mount Hood Road (to be closed temporarily)
- Sutherland Road
- Chiswick Road
- Chestnut Hill Avenue (at Chestnut Hill Avenue, Brighton; in easy walking distance of the C Line's Cleveland Circle station, and the D Line's Reservoir station)
- South Street
- Greycliff Road (to be closed temporarily)
- Boston College (at Lake Street, Brighton; serving Boston College)
The "Cleveland Circle" line is the second of the three lines that separate west of Kenmore. This line travels on the surface of Beacon Street through Brookline. The C Line stations are primarily named for the cross-streets of Beacon Street. These are a few of the notable ones:
- Coolidge Corner (Coolidge Corner , Brookline, Beacon and Harvard Streets)
- Washington Square (Washington Square , Brookline, Beacon and Washington Streets)
- Cleveland Circle (Cleveland Circle, Brighton, Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue; in easy walking distance of the B Line's Chestnut Hill Ave station, and the D Line's Reservoir station)
The "Highland Branch" is the third of the three lines that separate west of Kenmore. It is named for the Highland Branch railroad line from the 19th century upon whose right-of-way it was built. It travels parallel to and south of Beacon Street through Brookline and Newton.
The Newton Centre and Newton Highlands stations still feature classic station houses from the early 20th century. The Newton Centre station was renovated into shops in the 1980s, but the Newton Highlands station is not actively used.
- Fenway (near The Fenway, Boston, by the old Sears building)
- Longwood (Chapel and Longwood Streets, Brookline)
- Brookline Village (off Harvard and Washington Streets, and Route 9, Brookline)
- Brookline Hills (Cypress and Tappan Streets, Brookline, by the Brookline High School)
- Beaconsfield (Dean Road and Beacon Street, Brookline)
- Reservoir (Cleveland Circle, Brookline, named for the Chestnut Hill Reservoir; in easy walking distance of the B Line's Chestnut Hill Avenue station and the C Line's Cleveland Circle station)
- Chestnut Hill (Hammond Street near Middlesex Road and Route 9, Newton)
- Newton Centre (Newton Centre, Newton, near Beacon and Centre Streets)
- Newton Highlands (Lincoln and Walnut Streets, Newton)
- Eliot (Route 9, Lincoln Street and Meredith Avenue, Newton)
- Waban (Beacon Street at Waban Square, Newton)
- Woodland (Washington Street, Newton, serving the Newton-Wellesley Hospital )
- Riverside (Grove Street, Newton, exit 22 off I-95, named for the Charles River)
The "Arborway" line diverges from the other three lines just west of Copley. It travels mainly on the surface of Huntington Avenue, emerging from its subway just west of the Symphony Hall station.
- Prudential (Huntington Ave, Back Bay, Boston, serving the Prudential Center)
- Symphony (Massachusetts and Huntington Aves, Boston, serving Symphony Hall)
- Northeastern University (Huntington Ave and Opera Place, Boston, serving Northeastern University)
- Museum of Fine Arts (Huntington Ave and Ruggles St, Boston, serving the Museum of Fine Arts)
- Longwood Medical Area (Huntington and Longwood Ave, Boston)
- Brigham Circle (Huntington Ave and Francis Street, Boston; private right-of-way ends south of here)
- Fenwood Street (Huntington Ave and Fenwood Street, Boston)
- Mission Park (Huntington Ave and Mission Park, Boston)
- Riverway (South Huntington and Huntington Aves, Boston)
- Back of the Hill (South Huntington Ave, Boston)
- Heath Street (Heath Street, Boston)
Train service originally ran on the E Line beyond Heath Street to Arborway , but service was "temporarily" replaced in 1985 by the number 39 bus. Pursuant to environmental mitigation commitments made by the state regarding the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, service south of Heath Street is supposed to resume as soon as the tracks and overhead wiring are reconstructed and a sufficient number of low-floor streetcars are available to operate the service.
Older trains have a red diagonal line through the E on the rollsign, which dates from an early streetcar practice of using that to signify a short-turn route. Since the E with a slash is on the same panel as Heath Street, it must be used, even though the E has ended at Heath Street for a long time.
- Jonathan Belcher, "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA District, 1964-2003", Rollsign, November 28, 2003 ( - PDF)
- Flint, Anthony. "Mbta Halts Purchase of Green Line 'Lemons'." The Boston Globe December 12, 2004. ()
- A history of the Green Line
- MBTA official Green Line map
- Interactive Map (Unofficial)
- Operation manual for SLRV (Boeing) cars
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