Travelling around the outskirts of Boston, I made a mistake (or two), learned the resulting lesson, and am here to share.
I’m frugal, eco-friendly, and patient. This makes me an ideal candidate for using public transportation anywhere in the world. I don’t mind being jostled, witnessing vomiting drunk college kids, listening to the latest gossip from conspiring middle-aged minds, and smelling a screaming baby in need of a serious diaper change. I’m good, you see, with just about everything.
So, where did I go wrong on this trip?
Being frugal, I immediately went on the MBTA site to look at passes. There a couple of options for short stays (3 weeks or less): Day LinkPass for $12, and Week LinkPass for $19. (Both provide unlimited subway, bus, ferry and commuter rail Zone 1A travel)
My dilemma occurred when I understood that I had to take a taxi to my hotel Saturday night/Sunday morning and that I would be unable to leave the area where I stayed until Monday…because public transportation is unavailable in Bedford after 7/8pm on Saturdays. That meant I only needed to travel on Monday and Tuesday.
I thought long and hard about it–apparently, not enough, however.
You see, I only needed to visit four places. I thought, Hmm…well, I can get a CharlieTicket and use bus transfers. That surely will be the best choice. After all, the fare for the bus is $2.10.
First, let’s break down a couple of prices for the MBTA:
- CharlieCard $1.60
- CharlieTicket $2.10
There are, of course, more fares, etc. For my trip, the above two costs were the important ones.
It is apparent from comparison that travel with the reloadable plastic CharlieCard is far less expensive than travel with the paper CharlieTicket. They both offer transfers, but users of the CharlieTicket are made to pay a surcharge. What for? I’m quite uncertain. Still, I get the eco-friendly idea of the plastic CharlieCard versus the paper CharlieTicket.
The problem with the CharlieCard is that you can only purchase it at certain stations between the hours of 7am-7pm or from certain retail stores. I’m sure this is convenient…if you live in the area.
If you are just visiting and arrive after the sales hour and are not in proximity to one these retail stores, then the CharlieCard fails to be an option. You cannot purchase the CharlieCard from the fare vending machines located inside the stations.
Understanding the above, upon my arrival to the Airport subway station, I purchased a CharlieTicket for $10 (sold in values of $5, $10, $20, etc.) to use on Monday when I needed to leave Bedford for my appointments. I believed that this would be good for a total of 8 trips, i.e. 4 regular fares and 4 transfers.
The CharlieTicket does not give transfers from bus to subway. So, you must pay the subway fare separately.
Unfortunately, I had gotten into the habit of the Rome subway system that allots 1 one-way subway transfer alongside unlimited bus transfers within 100 minutes (cost 1.50 Euros).
In Boston, you are allowed 1 bus transfer within 120 minutes (cost $2.10).
In the end, I purchased another $10 CharlieTicket because I hadn’t realized that I would need to use the subway as much as I did.
Total cost of public transportation trip $20 with 2 CharlieTickets for 2 days. Less than 2 Day LinkPasses ($24), but more than the Week LinkPass ($19).
My recommendation? From day one, get the Week LinkPass. You can purchase it from the fare vending machines in the Airport subway station. If you are going to be in Boston for more than 3 weeks, get the Monthly LinkPass ($75).
Otherwise, get the Week LinkPass. For $19 you get unlimited bus, subway, ferry and Zone 1A commuter rail travel.
P.S. If you are travelling to Rome, and staying for more than two weeks, then buy a monthly pass (35 Euros). You can purchase them inside major stations or by roadside kiosks! I’ll write a separate post about this soon! 🙂