South Station

South Station

Infobox Station
name= Boston South Station

address=700 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02110
coordinates = coord|42.352035|-71.055182|display = inline,title
line=MBTA Subway:rail color box|system=MBTA|line=Redrail color box|system=MBTA|line=SilverMBTA Commuter Rail:rail color box|system=MBTA|line=Framinghamrail color box|system=MBTA|line=Needhamrail color box|system=MBTA|line=Franklinrail color box|system=MBTA|line=Providencerail color box|system=MBTA|line=Fairmountrail color box|system=MBTA|line=Greenbushrail color box|system=MBTA|line=Middleboroughrail color box|system=MBTA|line=PlymouthAmtrak:rail color box|system=Amtrak|line=Acela Expressrail color box|system=Amtrak|line=Lake Shore Limitedrail color box|system=Amtrak|line=Regional
other=Bus Terminal
parking=privately-owned garage
bicycle=bike lockers
opened=1899 (Depot)
December 3, 1916 (Red Line)
code=BOS (Amtrak)
owned=Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
zone= 1A
baggage_check=Available for Lake Shore Limited and Northeast Regionals 66 and 67

South Station, located at Atlantic Avenue and Summer Street in Dewey Square, in Boston, Massachusetts, is the largest train station and intercity bus terminal in Greater Boston and serves as a major intermodal transportation hub.


South Station's facilities include:

*the northern terminus of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor train service, including Acela Express high-speed trains and Northeast Regional local trains. There is also a daily Amtrak train to Albany, New York with a connection to Chicago — the Lake Shore Limited.
*the city terminus of the southern and western routes of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail system.
*a station stop on the Boston subway's Red Line.
*the western terminus of Phase 2 of the Silver Line, with direct service to all Logan International Airport terminals and to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center
*Boston's main inter-city bus terminal.
*local bus service.
*parking garage.
*staffed ticket windows.
*a food court and waiting area.
*public art, including a sculpture built of railroad car couplers and a model of the planet Jupiter, part of the Museum of Science's scale model of the solar system

Several MBTA commuter rail lines, plus Amtrak's Downeaster service to Maine, originate from North Station, about 1¼ miles (2 km) around the Boston peninsula from South Station. Transfers from North Station to all other Amtrak trains and the MBTA Commuter Rail's Providence/Stoughton, Needham, Franklin and Framingham/Worcester lines may be made at Back Bay (a one seat ride on the Orange Line); all other passengers have to change subway trains at either Park Street or Downtown Crossing stations. A North-South Rail Link is proposed to unify the two halves of the rail system, but as of May 2006 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has withdrawn its sponsorship of the proposal due to its high cost. Currently train cars are transferred via the Grand Junction Railroad, which is not used for passenger service.

Bus terminal

The South Station bus terminal is housed in a separate building along Atlantic Avenue, built over the train platforms, and serves several bus companies and destinations:
* Platform A1: [ C&J Trailways]
* Platform A2: Concord Trailways Londonderry departures
* Platform B1-B2: Discharge platforms
* Gates 1–2: Peter Pan-Bonanza
* Gates 3–10: Greyhound Lines
* Gate 12: [ DATTCO] [] , Megabus
* Gate 13: [ Lucky Star Bus Company]
* Gate 14-17: Concord Trailways
* Gates 18–20: [ Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway]
* Gate 21: BoltBus
* Gate 22-23: Peter Pan Bus Lines
* Gate 25: Fung Wah

Nearby attractions

*Boston South Postal Annex, with a post office that is almost never closed. (There is a passageway to it at the foot of Track 13).
*Boston's financial district including the Federal Reserve Bank Building
*the Boston Children's Museum
*the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum (undergoing renovation, due to reopen in Fall 2008)
*the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, about a 15 minute walk east, or one can take the Silver Line to the World Trade Center stop.
*Boston's Chinatown
*Boston's South End
*Boston's Prudential Tower and John Hancock Tower
*Logan International Airport
*Ted Williams Tunnel and Massachusetts Turnpike
*Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
*Rose Kennedy Greenway
*Rowes Wharf ferry terminal, several blocks north of the station
*Tufts University medical campus and Tufts Medical Center hospital
*New England Aquarium


*South Station is wheelchair accessible, but finding the elevator to the subway can be a bit tricky - it's in the corridor behind the information booth. Additionally, there is an elevator directly outside the Dewey Square exit, but this one is often locked.
*Other Amtrak stations on the Northeast Corridor are generally accessible.
*Some MBTA commuter rail stations have no wheelchair access and many of those that do have short elevated platforms that only serve one or two cars, on the outbound end of the train. "See" MBTA accessibility.


In the early 1900s, after the station first opened, heavy commuter ridership made it the busiest station in the world. However, massive cutbacks made by the bankrupt New Haven Railroad, and an increase in the popularity of automobile travel later left the station with far fewer riders than at that time.

More recently, ridership has grown considerably, in part due to the reopening of Old Colony commuter rail service and the electrification of the Amtrak Northeast Corridor from New Haven to Boston, which allowed high speed Acela service. [ [ French & Fowler, The Renovation of Boston’s South Station, 2003] ]

South Station Ridership (passengers/year)


Need for a combined station

When the railroads serving Boston were first laid out and built, each one stopped at its own terminal. The four terminals serving the south-side railroads were as follows:
*The New York and New England Railroad crossed the Fort Point Channel from South Boston, just south of the present Summer Street Bridge, and terminated just east of Dewey Square (right at the north end of today's South Station).
*The Old Colony Railroad had a long passenger terminal on the east side of South Street, stretching from Kneeland Street south to Harvard Street. This site is now part of the South Bay Interchange, near the South Station bus terminal.
*The Boston and Albany Railroad's passenger terminal was in the block bounded by Kneeland Street, Beach Street, Albany Street (now Surface Artery) and Lincoln Street. This later became a freight house, and is now a block in Chinatown; the passenger terminal was moved to the west side of Utica Street, from Kneeland Street south to a bit past Harvard Street, now part of the South Bay Interchange.
*The Boston and Providence Railroad continued straight where it now merges with the Boston and Albany, terminating at Park Square, with the passenger terminal on the south side of Providence Street from Columbus Avenue west about two-thirds of the way to Berkeley Street.

South Station combined the four terminals in one spot (a union station).


South Station opened as South Union Station on January 1, 1899 at a cost of $3.6 million (1899 dollars). The architects were Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge of Boston. It became the busiest station in the country by 1910. A station on the Atlantic Avenue Elevated served the station from 1901 to 1938; what is now the Red Line subway was extended from Park Street to South Station in 1913. The train shed, one of the largest in the world, was eliminated in a 1930 renovation due to corrosion from the nearby ocean's salt air. While the station handled 125,000 passengers each day during World War II, after the war passenger rail declined in the U.S. In 1959, the Old Colony Railroad, which served the South Shore and Cape Cod, stopped passenger service. The New Haven Railroad went bankrupt in 1961. South Station was sold to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) in 1965. Portions of the station were demolished and the land was used to build the Boston South Postal Annex and the Stone and Webster building.

In the original configuration, two tracks came off each approach to join into a four-track line and then run under the main platforms in a two-track loop. These tracks were never put into service, and later became a parking lot and bowling alley for employees. []


In 1978, the BRA sold what was left of the station, now on the National Register of Historic Places,Cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|pages=Ref# 75000299|accessdate=2007-10-30] to the MBTA, though the BRA retained air rights over the station. Funding was obtained for a major renovation of the station that was completed in 1989. A total of 13 tracks became available, all with high level platforms and some capable of handling 12 car trains. Piers were installed for the eventual construction of an office building and bus station above the tracks. After some delays, an inter-city bus terminal opened in October 1995, replacing one on top of the I-93 Dewey Square Tunnel diagonally across from the station between Summer Street and Congress Street. The new bus terminal has been called “the best bus facility in the country”Fact|date=February 2007 and has direct ramp connections to I-93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike (though there are two traffic lights in the outbound direction). The renovations, including the bus terminal, cost $195 million (2001 dollars).

The Red Line subway platforms were extended to allow 6 car trains in 1985 and renovated again in 2005, as part of the Silver Line Phase 2 project.


Planned system improvements should result in additional passenger traffic. Silver Line Phase III would build a tunnel connecting South Station with the Silver Line Phase I BRT service to Dudley Square, Roxbury. T. F. Green Airport Station in Rhode Island is currently under construction. An extension to Fall River and New Bedford, Massachusetts is being planned. []

The South Station Tower is a high-rise building approved for construction above the track platforms. Groundbreaking is anticipated to take place sometime in 2008. [ ] The tower will include a privately-funded improvement to the terminal that would increase the number of bus berths and provide a direct interior connection between the subway entrance area and the bus terminal. A proposed relocation of the Boston South Postal Annex would allow additional expansion.



*Various Sanborn maps
* [ French & Fowler, The Renovation of Boston’s South Station, 2003]

ee also

*Fort Point Channel

External links

* [ MBTA Boston South Station]
* [ Proposed South Station office tower]
* [ South Station web site] , with event listings
* [ Boston South Amtrak Station (USA RailGuide -- TrainWeb)]

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