It’s the fifth anniversary of this blog, and we’ve gotta do something special for it! Here we are: South Station. The biggest station on the MBTA. The busiest station on the MBTA. The last station on the MBTA. Let’s. Do. This.

Well, this isn’t starting us off very grandly…

I’ve always been lukewarm about the Red Line platform at South Station. Sure, there’s no denying that it’s clean, much cleaner than the other downtown stations. Still, though, isn’t it dark and dingy? The ceilings and the divider between the tracks are painted black. It’s like a cave! A spotless cave, but still a cave.

The virtually identical inbound side.

Still, for what the platform lacks in aesthetics, it still has all your basic amenities. There are benches, wastebaskets, countdown clocks, and TV screens showing ads (as well as old-fashioned paper ads – woah). The Red Line station can be somewhat quiet or really busy, depending on how connections have timed up – if a few Commuter Rail trains arrive at the same time in the morning rush, you can bet this place will be packed.

Miles on the MBTA: bringing you the highest quality MBTA photos since 2013!

There are a few exits from the platform to choose from. My favorite is the one that takes you straight out of fare control, getting you to the Commuter Rail in a faster time (board at the back of the second car going south if you want that one). If you want to get to the Silver Line, though, there’s an exit featuring a staircase, a really narrow escalator, and an elevator.

That’s nice!

The overall quality of South Station’s elevators is high, and this is no exception. It doesn’t smell that bad, and it even has this convenient placard showing what services each floor serves. One problem, though…would it hurt to show that you can transfer to the SL1 and SL2 on P1 as well? I mean, just a suggestion – seems like it’s important information.

Down on the Silver Line platform.

To get to the Silver Line platform, you have your choice of stairs, escalators, or another elevator, glass this time. The Silver Line platform has a similar aesthetic to the Red Line one, except this time the ceilings and track (road?) divider are concrete, so it feels less dark. Again, there are benches, wastebaskets, and TV screens, but no countdown clocks.

Lots of people heading to the airport.

Well, there are countdown clocks of another type: they have screens showing flight departures at Logan Airport! They even tell you when the next SL1 heading there is coming. The problem is that a lot of the time, at least one of the screens is frozen at some random time, but the sentiment is good. One day both screens shall work at the same time!

Well, it’s much quieter here where no one actually boards…

Meanwhile on the “inbound” Silver Line platform, there are still amenities for people to wait. Could this be in preparation for the much-anticipated Silver Line Phase III that’s never ever going to happen? One rather nice feature is the presence of Red Line countdown clocks so passengers know if they have to run for the next train or, in the case of the photo above, crawl downstairs on their hands and knees and still have 3 minutes to spare.

A slice of the mezzanine.

The station’s mezzanine curves all the way around fare control with multiple signs, maps, and fare machine locations around the gates. You’ve also got wastebaskets, ads, and newspaper boxes spread around. Finally, there’s a small convenience store that I believe is only open on weekdays – it’s near the ramp to the Commuter Rail.

An elevator down to rapid transit.

That elevator looks pretty good, right? Looks like a lovely ride, doesn’t it? It’s even glass! It has to be great! But when we rode this one, it had such an awful smell. I don’t know why, and I don’t want to know why. All I knew was that I wanted to get off!

One of the rapid transit entrances.

As grand as the station’s main building is, there’s something to be said about the interesting geometric structures leading to the rapid transit station. They’re clearly more modern constructions, built at the same time the Silver Line opened up in 2004. I like them a lot, and they make for a vibrant sight along the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Ah, she’s a beauty! I’m not sure why that ambulance is parked up in front, though…

Of course, nothing compares to the glorious South Station building. Built in 1899, it’s a Boston icon, full of amazing little architectural details. Just look how ornate it is! It’s seriously hard to describe in words, it’s just so…awesome. It’s also a really nice touch how the front doors just open automatically.

The SL4 stop.

In lieu of Silver Line Phase III, we got the SL4, which runs from South Station to Dudley. It doesn’t board in the fancy underground station, though…no, it only gets the lame surface-level shelter. To get to it, you have to go a block south down Atlantic Ave, then turn onto Essex Street.

Looking in awkwardly.

There isn’t much to it. You’ve got a bench within the shelter itself, as well as a second one outside it under an awning (the awning wasn’t helpful – the bench was wet). Inside the shelter, it’s very barebones, with just a fare validation machine (it was out of order at the time), a map in a small corner of a larger poster, and a countdown clock of dubious accuracy, although it seemed to be working fine when we were here. At least the shelter is heated!

Next to the main station.

Alongside the main station, there’s a long concrete bench underneath the full name of the complex: the Michael S. Dukakis South Station Transportation Center. As you walk further down Atlantic Ave, there’s some nice foliage along the edge of the station property. Unfortunately, questionable people like to hang out along here, and I often find myself walking quickly past it all.

Never thought I’d see one of these here!

What else is here? Well, for one thing, there’s a ramp leading up to one of the Commuter Rail platforms and the bus terminal, yet the sign for it claims it goes to the SL1 and SL2! Also, we’ve got a Pedal & Park cage, something I didn’t think would work at a downtown station (since most people would park their bike at an outer location and take the train in), but it was full!

What a grand sign!

There are two entrances into the building itself from here. The first is, as a really nice-looking sign says, a doorway into the food court, which we’ll get to later. The other entrance is simply an open passage to the Commuter Rail platforms, from which passengers can enter the station proper. It’s also perfect to use if you’re going from a train to the SL4 if anyone…uh…ever does that…

Well, this is interesting.

I never thought I would review a CVS on this blog, but there’s one in the station, so I guess I should. When you walk into the main entrance (you know, the awesome building), there are two separate entrances to the store! The first is a door to the right, and you come in on the ground floor, which is where most of the snacks are.

Floor number two!

A staircase or a rather nice elevator takes you up to the second floor. Here is where you’ll find the items that you’re more likely to specifically seek a CVS for: household goods, arts and crafts, and more. The store is designed well on that front – the things that people will want in a hurry like snacks are on the first floor, while some of the more long-term CVS items are on the second floor.

Goodbye, CVS!

Of course, the best part about the second floor is the view of the station. It’s a great place to hang out at rush hour, watching everyone scurry around to catch their trains. While we were admiring the view, a store employee reprimanded us for filming (in the weirdest and most passive-aggressive way possible, I might add) and asked us to leave the store. Oh well…we headed down the direct escalator that goes back to the main entrance, which is very convenient.

In all my years going to South Station, never have I actually noticed that that restaurant is there.

But while I somehow spent three paragraphs talking about a CVS, there is more to talk about in the main entrance. Firstly, you’ve got three ATMs for three different banks: Citizens, Santander, and Bank of America. It’s an interesting place to put them, and I’m not entirely sure who they’re supposed to be for (after all, they’re rather far from the ticket offices to be helpful for train passengers), but it’s nice that they’re here. There’s also a sit-down Mexican restaurant called Tavitas whose existence I was completely unaware of until this review – in their own words, they’re “badass.”

We’re getting closer to the main station!

There are even more businesses within this entrance, too! For one thing, you’ve got a tourist shop of sorts, selling Boston shirts and other trinkets. Meanwhile, on the other side of the CVS escalator, there’s a…cake shop? It’s called Delectable Desires, and it’s a little table that was unstaffed when we were here, but I am definitely intrigued at what it is and why the heck it’s here.

Time for the main station yet? Ha! Nope.

A set of brochures stands at the the entrance down to the subway. Yes, South Station boasts a direct underground connection to rapid transit lines from its main station, which is awesome. The transfer is as simple as going down a set of stairs (or an escalator), then descending a ramp to get to the subway mezzanine. But what about if you need an elevator…?

Weird hallway time!

Yes, in order to get to the elevator, you have to go down this strange hallway that doesn’t feel like people are supposed to go down it. First, I’ll briefly touch upon the room you pass through on the way: although there are tons of transfer passengers that pass through here on the way to the Red Line, the majority of the room is probably not seen or noticed. It has a wastebasket, an old “Mail Box Rentals” box-thing, and a store called “General Shoe and Luggage Repair” that seems a lot like the store in Downtown Crossing.

Is this…the right way?

The hallway to the elevators feels weirder and weirder the further you go. At first, there are some framed historical certificates on the wall, and despite being printed in very low quality, they make things feel a little more inviting. But eventually the photos get replaced by weird black doors that are closed to the public.

Where are we?

Finally, you arrive at the elevator, which has an awful exposed wall right next to it. As for the elevator itself, it’s an old and dingy affair, certainly not of the quality of some of the other elevators in this station. It accomplishes its goal of getting you to the main station, but it’s not an enjoyable experience!

The Amtrak Station Services office.

In close proximity to the elevator in the main station is the Amtrak Station Services office. I don’t really know what it is or who it’s for, but it seems nice enough. Look, it has a lovely comfy chair in which to wait!

Main station yet? Nah!

Before we can review the main station, we have to go to the bus terminal! Yes, continuing with the weird order of this review, we’ll be heading there now. To get there from the main building, you can go down Track 1, which has been in a constant state of construction since the beginning of time, and will probably continue to be until the end of time. A ramp leads down from the platform to the entrance of the terminal.

The building’s main entrance.

There’s another entrance to the bus terminal, though, and that’s the main one. Once you walk a ways down Atlantic Ave, you find some foliage out front and the neat-looking building that houses the terminal. One highlight is the neon sign on the door, which feels very much like a classic bus terminal sign.

In the atrium.

There’s not much in the station atrium, but it seems like some people hang out there anyway. Perhaps it would be a good idea to put some benches in and create a little waiting area. Behind some fancy potted plants, there are screens showing the arrivals and departures of different buses, and that’s about all that’s in here.

Going into the building proper.

A set of stairs and an upward escalator leads up to the building. The first thing that comes up is a sign saying everything’s to the right, and straight ahead there’s…nothing much. Yeah, I’ve never understood the point of the room in front of that sign, but it’s there.

I love this hallway!

Leading from the Room of No Purpose is the Cool-Looking Hallway of No Purpose. Sure, there isn’t much along it aside from some benches and potted plants, but you gotta admit that it’s a great-looking hallway. There is a security office at the start of it next to the Room of No Purpose, for what it’s worth.

Oh, classic!

I have to give special mention to the map in this hallway, because it’s awesome. It shows every single coach bus route and train service (Commuter Rail and Amtrak) in Massachusetts and New England, and I love to just stare at it every time I walk through here. The added bonus is that it can’t be found anywhere online as far as I can tell, so this is the only place where you can look at the map (until now, that is).

The concourse!

The hallway eventually opens up into the awesome concourse of the bus terminal. With its circular formation and skylight, this is a wonderful modern centerpiece for the facility. There isn’t much on the ground floor aside from some more plants and a kiosk selling various souvenirs and trinkets, but a set of stairs and escalators symmetrically lead up to the second level.

Some of the food offerings.

The second floor is where all the action is. Flanked by some art pieces hanging from a third level, there are a few fast food options here for eating while you wait for the bus (McDonald’s and D’angelos). Seating is rather limited, though, with only a small area designated specifically for eating food – passengers could always opt to use benches or standing tables, though.

Inside the bathroom.

Continuing around the circle, we arrive at the men’s room (don’t worry, there’s also a women’s room). Now, as a bathroom, it’s perfectly clean and modern for transportation standards, but the layout is very strange: the urinals are clustered in the middle of the room, with sinks on one side and toilets on the other. It’s an interesting design choice, for sure.

People waiting for their buses.

We get a row of seats as we continue, one of the few designated waiting areas within the terminal. There’s also an elevator that takes passengers back down to the ground floor (and up – we’ll get to that later) and a row of payphones. Oh, and there’s a random bus platform directly from here. I guess they had to fit as many as they could into the terminal.

The quieter ticket-selling area.

The ticket areas of the bus terminal are split into two sectors: the normal one and the crazy one. The normal one is where many of South Station’s smaller bus companies are located, such as Boston Express, Concord Coach Lines, and Lucky Star. The crazy one houses Peter Pan and Greyhound, and it’s almost always a mess, despite some self-service ticket machines in an attempt to shorten the lines.

Speaking of messes…

I’m sure if one visited the bus boarding area at 3 AM, it would be a wonderful place: a wide, long hallway with clear berth signage, sleek modern architecture, and plenty of available seats. Unfortunately, if you come at any other time, it’s a flurry of activity, angry passengers, and harried bus company representatives trying to calm them down. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was like that at 3 AM!

Going into the elevator.

Okay, time to take the elevator up! Although these elevators aren’t glass (aside from a little window at the door), they’re perfectly normal and clean. Now, most people are going to use these to get between the main hallway and the second floor of the concourse, but there’s another place you can go. A place most people probably don’t know exists…

Uhh…wait, this isn’t the exciting part yet.

Travelling up to the fifth floor of the bus terminal, we arrive at a weird little waiting area. There’s actually a bench up here for some reason – perhaps it’s for people waiting for service at Package Express? Because yes, there’s also a Greyhound Package Express up here. I don’t even know what it is, really, but from what I can gather, it’s some sort of mailing service. So I guess if you want to ship something via Package Express, the fifth floor of the South Station Bus Terminal is the place to go.

Here’s the exciting part!

Before I reviewed this station with a bunch of other people (and thanks to them for coming along), Sam and I did a quick scout of it the night before. And on that Sunday night, we ended up on the roof of the station and its parking lot for the first time, and it was amazing. The view of the city and the station was unique and unparalleled, and there was no one up there.

Looks like it’s full.
Even barring the view and the atmosphere, the lot is still an anomaly. Why is there a parking lot at a station right in the Financial District? What commuters are going to drive here? Maybe that’s why the lot is small, housing a paltry 226 spaces. Because we’re downtown, the rates are high for the T at $4 per 30 minutes, but that’s probably better than what you’ll get at other lots in the city. Heck, this place even has overnight parking!
The fun way down.
Why take the boring elevator back down when we can use one of the exit-only staircases? I’m pretty sure these were built just for emergency purposes, because there is absolutely no way anyone would want to use them for any other reason. I mean, they’re just these winding staircases that take you all the way down to the ground in a glass chamber with no exits. I don’t think people ever use them…but then again, if that’s the case, why are there lights at the bottom casting an artful glow upon the bottom of each step? Pretty weird…
Lots of activity in the food court.
Okay, now that we’re back at ground level on Atlantic Ave, we can go into the main station again! Using that fancy food court entrance from before, we arrive at the premiere center for dining at South Station. You’ve got everything from a Pizzeria Regina to a Master Wok to our second “Micky D’s” of the review! The point is that there’s lots of choice here.
What is it with this station and out-of-the-way elevators?
There are two ways to get up to the food court mezzanine. The first is right there in the center of the action: a few lovely symmetrical staircases goes right up. The second is an elevator, and once again, it’s in a weird location that’s quite difficult to find! I mean, it’s a fine elevator on its own and it does have some signage from the food court, but still…
Made it!
Yes, unlike the bus terminal food court, the one in the train station does have a good amount of seating. There’s no doubt that the mezzanine can get and feel crowded, but it’s still seating and I’ll take it. Plus, it has some nice amenities, including a phone charger and a screen showing train departures.
Totally not trying to prolong our look at the main station for as long as possible…
How can we cover the main station before looking at its bathroom? Yes, the bathrooms are back near the entrance and the staircase to rapid transit, and they are some top-notch bathrooms indeed. They make great use of space, they’re clean, and they offer a lot of capacity. Mm-mm, gotta love these bathrooms. Okay, okay, we’ll do the main station now.
The station…from above.
Ahhhhh, we’re finally here. In all its glory, here’s the main station. Man, you gotta love it. For all its insanity at rush hour, you just gotta love it. It’s huge, it has lots of amenities, and it’s so incredibly iconic. The best time to appreciate it is arriving here on a train at night: the whole thing is just silent and completely open. However, I didn’t review this station at night, so it’s time to fight the crowds in an attempt to talk about everything here!
Da big board!
It’s hard to even find a place to begin here! I guess we’ll start with the departure board, because it’s a South Station classic. There isn’t even much to say about it: it tells people when their trains are leaving, and that’s about it. But still, the board is the station’s centerpiece, and it plays that role fantastically.
A few of the food options within the station.

It’s funny how the station’s food court could easily go unnoticed, because there are plenty of food options right here in the main hall! You’ve got an Au Bon Pain, a frozen yogurt place, and the obligatory Dunks, among others. There are even tables at which to eat right here! Who needs the food court mezzanine?

Sorry that a lot of these photos are kinda blurry…
Moving on, we have a Tavern in the Square that I never really pay attention to. I mean, it looks closed in the photo above, but apparently it’s been open for a few years at least! Oh well, regardless, it’s neat that there’s a full-service bar and restaurant right in the middle of the station, and I’m sure it’s a nice place to go for commuters on a Friday night.
The line of schedules underneath the departure board.
The center of the station is defined by a line of posters showing schedules for all the different lines that serve South Station, even for special trains like the one to Foxboro. Also, this is as good a time as any to talk about the advertising onslaught the main hall has experienced. It’s always dominated by gigantic posters for one single company, while big screens on either side show various other ads. Oh well…if it makes the T money and it’s not that intrusive, I can’t really complain.

Martin’s News Shops.

Yet another South Station business whose existence I was unaware of until this review is Pret a Manger. Yeah, apparently I like to walk through the main station really quickly! Another aspect to the station that I only discovered as my family was racing for an Amtrak train on Saturday is more seating in the form of tables to the left of the center aisle. I thought these were new when I saw them, but nope, they’ve always been here. Clearly I never paid attention to anything in here before reviewing it!

Get some reading material for your train ride!
There’s a fairly typical news shop next, offering the classic variety of snacks, magazines, and trinkets. I myself use it a lot to grab a bag of pretzels before a train ride. The southeast corner of the main hall plays host to something a lot more specialized, but a lot more unique: Barbara’s Bestsellers. That’s right, it’s a small bookshop right in the station! I really love that this is here, and while I’ve never gone beyond simply perusing its selection, it’s a wonderful inclusion regardless, and I hope they get good business.
Some stuff alongside the ticket halls.
This section of the station features some waiting space in the form of big wooden benches. Are they comfortable? No, not really…they get the job done, I guess. The ticket halls are across from the benches, but passengers are given options to ignore them in the form of MBTA ticket machines and Amtrak Quik-Trak machines. Seriously, though…two MBTA machines, one of which is cashless? Come on, that’s a recipe for long lines!
Inside the ticket halls is where the “fancy” side of South Station really shines, at least for the general public (we’ll get to that later). They play host to some very ornate architecture, and as little as that matters to the average commuter, it’s small consolation if you have to wait in a line for tickets. I can’t speak for the Amtrak section, having never used it, but the MBTA section is usually well-staffed, and I haven’t had to wait longer than a few minutes to get a ticket.
The information desk.
There’s an information desk near the front of the station that’s always well-staffed, even though I don’t usually see a lot of people actually using it. Oh well, it’s a nice resource (and we’ve already proven I don’t pay enough attention to the goings-on of this place when I use it, so maybe people do use it a lot), and there are plenty of interesting brochures and schedules around the desk. A neat-looking sculpture sits near the area, while next to it is a screen showcasing various attractions in the area (and some way outside the area that are a pain to get to from South Station – who’s going to the North Shore from here?).
And all of a sudden, it’s quiet.
I’ll briefly cover the Summer Street exit from the station, since I had never seen it (let alone used it) prior to this review. It’s an odd one, with a row of payphones being the first thing a passenger sees as they walk through its passageway. Going through an ornate, if rather plain room, one passes by the South Station lost and found office (again, I had no idea there was one until this review) and gets deposited out onto Summer Street.
The very important bus stop!
As part of my policy of reviewing every part of a station, we do have to take a look at the bus stop on Summer Street. As a hub for six bus routes (a whole three of which run at times other than rush hour!), some very expansive facilities are definitely needed. Nah, I’m kidding – the one shelter is fine for the most part, and though it might experience some crowding at peak hours, it’s practically empty at all other times.
A secret passageway!
Okay, the path from Summer Street to the platforms isn’t a secret, but I doubt it’s a connection people think about all that much. There’s not much to it: it’s just a leafy plaza that loops around the side of the station and opens up to the train platforms. Hey, it’s pretty helpful if you’re going from the Commuter Rail to the Seaport District or to a bus connection.
The main platform area.
Let’s use that passageway to get to the platforms. There are thirteen in all, but to travel to any of them, you have to pass through this open area first. It’s what you would expect: there are some wastebaskets for depositing any trash people might’ve had on their train ride, as well as convenient electronic signs showing where the trains on each platform are going and when they’re leaving.
Deep in the bowels of one of the platforms.
As for the platforms themselves, most of them look like the one above: they’re bland and boring. That being said, there’s no need for them to have anything special along them, since there’s plenty of waiting space in the main station. Many trains outside of rush hour board closer to the front, requiring passengers to walk down the platform to where it enters the shadow of the bus terminal – it’s not ideal, but it’s generally the most efficient place to board people if only a few cars are open.
A blurry view of Track 11.
The boarding of an Amtrak train at South Station is always a big deal. You can always tell when it’s happening because you’ll see a line of people with baggage waiting to perform the slow (dare I say agonizing?) process of showing their ticket to an Amtrak employee as they board the train. Sometimes you’ll also see catering carts being pushed toward the train for its café car.
Track 13, located in the Cave of the Winds.
Finally, no look at South Station is complete without a trek down to the elusive Track 13. This is by far the most out-of-the-way track, and it requires going by the US Postal Service facility right next to the station and walking quite a ways south. Oh, Track 13…how I hate using you! And…that’s it, right? I believe I’ve covered the whole of South Station.
OH HELL NO!!!!!!!!!
Nope! I told myself when I set out to doing South Station that I would not and could not consider my coverage complete without a look at the ClubAcela Lounge. This exclusive joint is only accessible to Acela First Class passengers and Business Class passengers who are willing to fork over a $20 fee. Seems crazy, right? Well, we payed that $20 fee, and now it’s time to see what this place has to offer.
We ascend!
The process of even entering this place is secretive and annoying. First you have to ring the buzzer at the door, which prompts an Amtrak employee to open it for you. Next, you go up the stairs and arrive at the service desk, where you present your ticket or pay your fee to be granted access to the facility. It’s also accessible by elevator, and in fact, it uses the same weird elevator that goes down to the rapid transit level!
Gather around the ol’ TV.
Most of the seating in the ClubAcela Lounge is in the form of these puffy blue chairs. I’m pleased to report that yes, they are comfortable! Some of them are arranged in front of a TV, and since a remote control is provided, people can watch whatever they want. There’s also plenty of non-TV seating around the place, including seats with tables and ones with a view of the street outside or the station.
More seating.
The ClubAcela Lounge is the best place to see the fanciest architecture at South Station. The whole thing has a regal feel, especially with the ornate designs with the ceiling. An elaborate clock at one end of the room is helpful for knowing the time, but the Commuter Rail departure board next to it? I don’t think that’s necessary…
The “business” section of the lounge.
Down a set of stairs, there’s a more business-oriented part of the lounge. It has less comfy seats that are situated against desks for working, as well as a few chairs with computers. There’s even a conference room! Of course it was necessary to test the internet speed at one of the computers, and unfortunately, the old version of Internet Explorer took quite a while to load up (the best page on the internet, as everyone knows). 
This has to be the record for most bathrooms visited in a review!
There are bathrooms here as well, and they’re wonderful, as expected. Look, it’s practically spotless! Probably because no one ever uses it! Oh well, it’s still a good bathroom, complete with a diaper changing station and a water fountain outside its entrance.
Hey, people are actually here!
The row of seats along Summer Street seems to be where most people convene. There are a bunch along the wall, but it seems that people really like to take the seat pairs around the windows. They come complete with tables where, as seen above, people can easily make themselves at home. Hey, I’m not judging – it’s not like anyone else is here!
Who doesn’t love free food? The snacks available at the ClubAcela lounge are probably its greatest asset. You’ve got a number of food items as shown above, as well as a variety of drinks, both in bottled and in cup forms. There are also free magazines, even though they look…rather boring. Buy something from Barbara’s Bestsellers instead!
Some of the drink offerings.
So is ClubAcela worth it? No, I don’t think it is. If you happen to have a first class ticket you might as well take advantage of the free entry, but otherwise…no, definitely not. It’s only worth it if you arrive at the station an hour or more early, which is something I just wouldn’t want to do. Why spend your time waiting around in here doing nothing? If you like to arrive at the station really early, it’s a nice place to wait, but it is not worth $20. As an add-on to the already overpriced first class ticket, sure. Also, hey, the review’s done!
Take me out of here, I’ve been writing for far too long!
Station: South Station
Ridership: There are so many different ridership camps here! First and foremost, this is the busiest station on the T rapid transit system in terms of boardings, with 25,037 people getting on each weekday (the vast majority of whom get on the Red Line, while a little over 1,000 passengers board the SL1 and SL2). About 5,000 people also make the transfer between the Red Line and the underground Silver Line routes every weekday. An additional 1,000 people or so board the SL4 here.
Moving on to long-distance transportation, a massive 41,720 passengers get on Commuter Rail trains here each weekday, according to Wikipedia (which apparently got its data from the Blue Book, but I can’t find it anywhere in there – here’s the source I think it got it from). On the Amtrak side of things, the Rail Passengers Association says that 1,552,666 people boarded Amtrak trains from here in 2016, averaging out to just over 4,250 people per day. Another interesting tidbit from the data is that 61,817 people were in first class – that’s a maximum of about 170 people per day that could use the ClubAcela lounge! Finally, intercity buses here get about 16,000 people per day.
Just for fun, I decided to add up all the totals to see just how many people use this place per weekday. I was hoping it would add up to over 100,000, but we still have the very formidable number of 92,999 people per weekday. This is obviously the busiest station on the whole MBTA network.
Pros: South Station as a whole is a really good complex. There’s this very clean, modern feeling that permeates through most of its main sections, from the rapid transit mezzanine to the Silver Line platforms to the bus terminal to the Commuter Rail station. South Station recognizes that it’s a huge intercity hub, and it strives to provide its passengers with all the amenities they’ll need for their trips, long or short. It does very well on that front, offering food, stores, and random souvenirs all over the place. Sure, not all of it is necessary (the cake shop comes to mind), but regardless, each and every business that occupies the station adds a different and unique charm to it. Also, the connectivity between all these different hubs is great. The rapid transit station is integrated incredibly well with the mainline rail station, and while the bus terminal is a little out of the way, the signage is adequate and the trip is quick once you know what you’re doing. Not only did South Station achieve the goal of providing a unified train station in 1899, but it has now grown into an all-in-one hub for intercity travel, and considering how haphazardly that happened over the years, it’s done very well for itself.

Cons: Most of my cons come in the form of niggling little complaints that you saw throughout the review, so I’ll try to only put the really big ones here. First and foremost, it would be great to see the Red Line platform get a little light. Yes, it’s clean, but I’ve always thought it’s far too dark – even some stronger lights could improve the waiting experience there. Also, the elevator from the rail station to rapid transit is…uh…pretty awful. It wouldn’t be easy to fix and it works fine all things considered, but boy, it’s a real pain to use. Finally, while I do think the connection is straightforward once you figure it out, a better way of getting to the bus terminal would be much appreciated. It feels isolated from the rest of the station, and some sort of walkway would feel a lot more welcoming. I mean, at least take the darn construction stuff away from Platform 1! Or make the platform an enclosed passage, that would work too…

Nearby and Noteworthy: Sure, we might be downtown and there are plenty of attractions around here, but apparently the station itself is an attraction, too! Did you know that tours are offered here? I mean, I don’t know why you would need one after toiling over this far-too-comprehensive review, but hey, it’s there! It seems to touch a lot upon the interesting history of the station.

Final Verdict: 8/10
And that’s it. That’s South Station. 8 out of 10. The final station on the T.

Wait, woah. The final station on the T. That’s it.

Oh my gosh, I’ve really done it. Every bus route. Every subway station.


Thank you so much for reading, whether it’s been for all five years or you just found the blog recently. Every single person who’s read, commented, or sent me a guest post has been instrumental in keeping this blog going and keeping me engaged to do what I love. And even though this is the last station, we still have lots of Commuter Rail stations to do and even more regional bus routes! Even if you’re not interested in that stuff, I strongly encourage you to read a few posts and see if you like them. The Commuter Rail gave us the wonderful Hastings, after all. Otherwise, thanks for reading however much you read, and I hope that each and every one of you has an amazing day. Happy riding!

Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
I’m just gonna give some alphabetized special thanks here that you don’t have to read, but I just wanted to put in because these people mean a lot to me…

  • Jaret, you only started coming along on our last few journeys, but you’re such a great person to have around – you always have something intelligent or humorous to say. Sorry for making you get up early to do the 195!
  • Jordan, thanks for stealing the show in each and every video review you appear in! No, but seriously, you’re such an insanely funny person and an absolute joy to go on trips with. Long live the King!
  • Josh, you always bring your unique viewpoints and humor to any trip. You’ve managed to convince me that suburbs aren’t the worst thing in the universe, which is a huge achievement. Also, thanks for ruining my vocabulary forever, b o i! No, seriously, you’re awesome.
  • Nathan, I couldn’t have done half of my RTA reviews without your crazy ideas. You always know where you’re going and you’re one of the smartest and wittiest people I’ve ever met. We’ve survived some of the weirdest situations ever, and I can’t wait to go through more!
  • Sam, thank you so much for always being there to publish a post at the last minute when I don’t have access to a computer. You’ve taught me so much about how the MBTA works, and I know you’ll be an amazing planner one day – heck, you already are! 
  • Uillia, I don’t know you too well, but from what I’ve seen, you’re an incredibly smart and friendly person. I couldn’t have done the ClubAcela Lounge without your help.
  • Zof-Zof…thanks for dealing with me talking about buses all the time. Sorry!
Other people who get huge thanks: Jason from (T)he Adventure for giving me the inspiration to start this thing; Elizabeth, Jack, and Yasmin from WBUR for doing an amazing story that has gotten the blog a ton of attention over the past week; all of my teachers for supporting the project over the years; my parents for being responsible for the transit obsession that this blog is based on; the members of the Cambridge Transit Advisory Committee for accepting a young upstart like me into their group; any other specific people who I might’ve forgotten, and I’m so sorry if I did; and, of course, all you readers out there. Thank you. For everything.