Written by Delia Harrington
If WITS will be your first time visiting the Hub of the Universe, don’t let transportation intimidate you from seeing all the wonderful sights. This guide breaks down your option by price, availability, safety and efficiency.
The MBTA, affectionately known as the T, is the cheapest way to get around quickly, although efficiency varies greatly. The lines are color-coded and use “inbound” versus “outbound” to tell you whether they are heading toward or away from the four central stations of Park Street, Downtown Crossing, Government Center and State Street. It’s best to double-check before you choose your station entrance, since many stations have separate entrances for inbound and outbound trains.
The T runs every day, but closes around midnight during the week. Since last year, the T stays open until 2am on weekends. Be sure to check what time the last train leaves the station you’ll need so you don’t get stuck! Trains start running again at 5am.
The best way to take advantage of everything the T has to offer is to get yourself a CharlieCard and a good app on your phone. The CharlieCard (named for a great political song from back in the day) will save you money and time, so load one up with cash or a weekly pass. As for apps, the MBTA has some recommendations, but I swear by the free OpenMBTA app. Don’t forget about the bus, which covers the area between the train lines.
The bike-sharing program is a great way for visitors to get around town, and is available 24/7, 3 seasons a year. Their 24- and 72-hour passes are ideal for WITS attendees. All you need to do is to swipe your credit card at a kiosk, and you’ll get unlimited rides under 30 minutes for the duration of the pass. Get the app so you can see the locations and availability of bike docks. There are so many all around town that finding a place to pick up or drop off a bike is never a problem.
You can use the bike basket and bungee cord to secure a bag. You can bike in basically anything, although I suggest bike shorts under a skirt or dress, and the ability to pedal in heels varies greatly. Be sure to pick up a helmet–you can find one for $9.99-$12 at hundreds of locations around town. Read up on other safety precautions and then enter the world of fast, reliable transportation!
Like most major cities, Boston has several cab companies, and there are cab stands at hotels and other points of interest. You can generally get one 25/7, if you call in advance, but they’re scarce late at night and in more remote parts of the city.
Helpful reminder: in Boston, it’s against the law for cabs to refuse to take credit and debit cards. If a cab tries to, remind them of the law. If that doesn’t work, threatening to call 911 usually fixes their card reader instantaneously.
Due to the cost and unreliability, cabs are generally considered a last resort.
Companies like Lyft and Uber have become incredibly popular in the last few years with their 24/7 availability and ease of access, especially compared to traditional cabs. You’ll need a smartphone, the free app of your preferred vender, and to enter your credit card information. Both regularly offer promotions for first time users, so check online for codes.
Keep in mind that lately, ride sharing has come under fire for safety concerns, as well as misogyny, threatening a reporter and other bad business practices. Several of the alleged assaults have been in Boston. Make sure the car matches the description of the vehicle provided by the app, and trust your instincts if anything raises your suspicion.
Both brands have $10 cancellation fees, but it’s worth your safety. Many customers report that if you tell them why you cancelled, the fees are usually dropped.
We’ve saved the best for last! Boston has a great reputation as a walking town, and with good reason. Walking gives you a chance to find hidden gems, and experience the city the way it was meant to be seen. Enjoy the parks, watch street performers, and find cool street art. Always available and free, walking is good exercise and will add to your experience in Boston.
No matter how you get here, we can’t wait to see you at WITS!