A Guide to Mass Transit at Fresh Pond Place

Revised October 8, 2002

Arnold Reinhold, #14


One benefit of living at Fresh Pond Place is convenient access to mass transit. Four Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority bus lines stop within half a mile of our complex. All four lines terminate in the new underground Harvard Square station, where you can catch the MBTA Red line subway to downtown Boston, as well as other buses. The ride to Harvard takes 15 minutes or so. It is even possible to get from here to Logan Airport and back entirely by mass transit.

Greater Boston's subway system, begun in 1895, is the oldest in the country. It has been extensively modernized in recent years and provides a good way to get around in an urban area increasingly congested with automobile traffic. However it is not known for being user friendly. People who ride it all the time quickly learn the tricks, but it can be intimidating for the casual user. This guide attempts to tell you what you need to know to use the MBTA system.

A few things to know about taking the bus. MBTA buses and trackless trolleys cost 75 cents for adults. Kids 5 to 11 pay half fare. Senior citizens with a senior ID card and persons with disabilities with Transportation Access Pass pay 25¢. Subway tokens (which cost $1.00) are also accepted. Exact change is required. They do take dollar bills, but don't give change, so keep a jar of quarters by your door. On some of the lines from Harvard Square you don't pay until you leave the bus. This can be a bit confusing. Ask the driver if you aren't sure when to pay.

Monthly, unlimited ride passes are available. A Bus pass will let you ride the bus to Harvard Square. The "Combo" pass will get you on the subway as well. Passes can be purchased at the mezzanine level in the Harvard Square station from 7 am to 6 pm on the last four and first four business days of each month. You can also order passes online at http://www.mbta.com.

The subway system operates from 5:30 in the morning to about 12:30 am at night, seven days a week. The exact time of first and last service differs at each station. Printed schedule cards for each bus and subway line are posted in Harvard station and can be obtained free at the token booth, at the dispatch office by the upper bus platform or at the city's information kiosk outside. You can get more information on MBTA service by calling 722-3200 or surfing to their Internet site at http://www.mbta.com

The 75 Line. The 75 Belmont Center via Huron Towers bus is the most convenient line to FPP. It stops just next door at Huron Towers. The 75 runs are marked on the 74/75 schedule with an "a" next to the departure time. The route is a bit round about, going from here to the Fresh Pond Rotary and then down Concord Avenue to Harvard Square. The runs to Harvard Square get to Huron Towers 5-8 min after the listed time of departure from Belmont and take about 13 minutes to get to Harvard, longer in rush hour. The fly in the ointment is frequency. The 75 only runs about once an hour weekdays. Service is actually better on Saturday evening and Sunday when the 75 is combined with the 72 and runs every 40 minutes. If you can go when it goes, the 75 is the easiest line to take.

The 73 Line. The next best service for FPP'ers is the 73 Waverley Sq. bus which stops on Belmont Street down at the foot of Cushing Street, about 0.3 miles from FPP. This is a major trackless trolley line with frequent service Monday through Saturday. Buses run every 5 minutes during weekday rush hours, every 12 minutes during the day and every half hour in the evenings. Service on Sunday runs every 50 minutes. It stops at Cushing St about 6 to 10 minutes after its scheduled departure from Waverley Square. The 73 also the latest service, leaving Harvard at 1 am each night.

The 72 Line. The 72 Huron Ave. trackless trolley line comes in a close third in the convenience race. It stops at the corner of Huron and Aberdeen Ave., just over the Leonard J. Russell bridge. This stop is also 0.3 miles from FPP. The 72 runs every 15 minutes during weekday rush hours and every half hour the rest of the time, even on Sundays. Since it originates just one stop away, at Aberdeen and Mt. Auburn St., you can rely on its scheduled departure times.

The 71 Line. The 71 Watertown Square trackless trolley line is the least convenient of the four, but worth knowing about. It follows the same route as the 73 line up to the Star Market, then continues down Mount Auburn St. to Watertown Square. The service frequency is the same as the 73 line, but at different times. Going to Harvard Square the nearest place to get the 71 is past the Star Market, a half mile walk from FPP and a good bit further than the 73's stop at Cushing St. But if you just miss the 73 you might want to walk the few blocks more and catch the next 71. Returning from Harvard Square, however, the 71 stop right after the Star Market is only slightly further than the 73's. So coming back you can take whichever bus comes first.

At Harvard Square Station. All four buses originate at Harvard Station. The 72 and 74a buses leave from the upper bus level at berth 8, while the 71 and 73 leave from the lower bus level except on Sunday, when they also leave from the upper level. (There will be a quiz.) The 71 and 73 also stop outside on Mt. Auburn St. by the Harvard Square post office.

Outbound busses. You can take the 71, 73 and 75 busses in the other direction too. The 71 outbound ends at Watertown square where you can connect with busses that go to Dedham, Needham, Newton Center, West Newton and Waltham. The 73 ends at Waverley where you can connect with the Fitchburg commuter rail Purple line. Taking the 75 outbound will get you to Belmont center, another Fitchburg line stop.

How to get to Logan Airport by Mass Transit. The route to Logan is complicated and it takes a good hour or so, but it's cheap and it can be more reliable than the Callahan tunnel in rush hour. Here are the five easy steps:

1. Take any of the above buses to Harvard Station.

2. At Harvard change to the Red line inbound (lower level) and take it to Park Street. Try to buy your tokens in advance; the token queue can be slow.

3. At Park Street follow the signs upstairs that say "Green line to Government Center." You must go up the correct stairway. Take any train one stop to Government Center.

4. At Government center follow the signs downstairs to the Blue line. Take it to the Airport stop.

5. At the Airport Station go up the escalator and catch one of the two free Massport shuttle buses to your terminal: the 22 goes to terminals A and B; the 33 goes to C, D, and E.

Coming back from Logan, just retrace these steps. Note that Massport also runs a number 11 bus which stops at all terminals but not at the subway station. Don't take it! For more information on how to get to Logan call 1-800-23-L-O-G-A-N or visit http://www.massport.com

Amtrak Connections. Rail is getting to be a good alternative to flying in the Northeast corridor. There is even a 9:00 pm overnight sleeper service to Washington, DC. All Boston Amtrak trains originate at South Station which is on the Red line. For Amtrak information and reservations call 1-800-872-7245 or visit http://www.amtrak.com.

Driving to the Subway may not be pure mass transit, but it is often convenient if you can find a place to park. If you have a Cambridge parking permit, you can often park on the side streets off Walden Street near the Porter Square Red and Purple line station. You can also park at the Alewife station garage for $4 per day.