As with many large cities, a large number of Boston-area streetcar lines once existed. However, only a few remain, namely the four branches of the Green Line and the Ashmont–Mattapan High-Speed Line, with only one (the Green Line E branch) running regular service on an undivided street.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) was formed on August 3, 1964, taking over operations from the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The MTA itself was formed in 1947 to take over operations of the private Boston Elevated Railway (BERy), which ran rapid transit, streetcars, and buses in the Boston area.
In 1936, the BERy assigned numbers to its routes for map use, but route numbers were not used on buses until the late 1960s (when the colors were assigned to the remaining rail lines).  Additionally, the numbers were only kept the same on and after the 1942 revision of the map; before that they were changed with each new version. A few routes were renumbered around 1967, but most routes have kept their original numbers. Routes were numbered roughly clockwise from South Boston to East Boston.
Timeline of streetcar abandonments
This is a table of when each streetcar line was converted to trackless trolley or bus. Only information post-1940 is complete.
|Last day of streetcars||Route||Notes|
|Still operational||4 Riverside–subway||Renamed Green Line D branch ca. 1967|
|28 Mattapan–Ashmont High Speed Line||Number dropped and considered part of Red Line ca. 1967, still runs 1940s-era PCC streetcar.|
|57 Heath Street–subway||Renamed Green Line E branch (short-turn) ca. 1967|
|61 Cleveland Circle–subway||Renamed Green Line C branch ca. 1967|
|62 Boston College–subway||Renamed Green Line B branch ca. 1967|
|December 27, 1985||39 Arborway–subway||Renamed Green Line E branch ca. 1967, reverted to 39|
|June 20, 1969||69 Watertown–subway||Renamed Green Line A branch ca. 1967, reverted to 57|
|October 28, 1963||New configuration of downtown subway between Government Center and Haymarket opens|
|April 5, 1962||Shuttle Pleasant Street–Boylston||Last service to the Pleasant Street incline|
|November 17, 1961||43 Lenox Street–subway||Closed June 14, 1956 from Egleston to Lenox Street|
|July 4, 1959||4 Riverside–subway (Highland branch) opens|
|September 4, 1958||71 Watertown–Harvard||Trackless trolley until March 13, 2022|
|73 Waverly–Harvard||Trackless trolley until March 13, 2022|
|82 North Cambridge–Harvard||Renumbered 77A ca. 1967
Last service March 13, 2022
|June 14, 1956||43 Egleston–subway||Cut back to Lenox Street|
|December 16, 1955||40 Arborway–Egleston|
|100 Elm Street–Sullivan||truncated to Elm Street in 1946 |
|November 18, 1955||79 Arlington Heights–Harvard||Renumbered 77 ca. 1967|
|September 9, 1955||29 Mattapan–Egleston|
|December 4, 1953||10 City Point–Dudley|
|September 12, 1953||47 Mass station–Dudley||Renumbered 1 ca. 1967|
|June 19, 1953||7 City Point–South Station via Summer Street|
|April 24, 1953||30 Mattapan–Roslindale|
|30A Mattapan–Arborway||Renumbered 28 ca. 1967|
|32 Cleary Square–Arborway||Trackless trolley until September 30, 1958|
|March 1, 1953||9 City Point–subway||Bus connected to subway shuttle at Pleasant Street incline through December 4, 1953 |
|November 21, 1952||34 Dedham Line–Arborway||Trackless trolley until September 5, 1958|
|January 4, 1952||114 Meridian–Maverick||Turned around at the south end of the closed Meridian Street Bridge
Trackless trolley until March 30, 1961 (Woodlawn–Maverick, via the Meridian Street Bridge, reopened ca. 1954)
|116 Revere Beach Loop–Maverick via Revere Street||Trackless trolley until September 8, 1961 (Wonderland–Wood Island)|
|117 Revere Beach Loop–Maverick via Beach Street||Trackless trolley until September 8, 1961 (Wonderland–Wood Island)|
|118 Revere Carhouse–Maverick via Ocean Avenue and Bennington Street||Trackless trolley until June 1955 (Wonderland–Orient Heights)|
|120 Gladstone–Maverick||Short-turn of 118
Trackless trolley until September 8, 1961 (Orient Heights-Maverick)
|121 Eagle Carhouse–Maverick via Lexington||Trackless trolley until March 30, 1961 (Wood Island–Maverick)|
|September 28, 1951||36 Charles River–Arborway||Trackless trolley until September 5, 1958|
|June 16, 1950||70 Watertown–Central||Trackless trolley until March 30, 1963|
|June 12, 1950||Meridian Street Bridge closed for construction; 114 cut back to south end of bridge, 116 rerouted via Chelsea Street.: 168|
|December 9, 1949||16 Franklin Park–Andrew||Trackless trolley until April 5, 1962|
|September 18, 1949||76 Harvard–Mass station||Streetcars only ran from Harvard Square to MIT from September 12 to 18, after which the Central Square-MIT section was added to the Watertown-Central Square line.: 28 Trackless trolley from April 22, 1950 until March 30, 1961.|
|September 16, 1949||42 Egleston–Dudley|
|July 1, 1949||93 Sullivan–subway via Bunker Hill Street|
|June 7, 1949||41 Jamaica Plain–Dudley|
|April 23, 1949||122 Jefferies Point–Maverick|
|February 11, 1949||17 Fields Corner–Andrew via Meeting House Hill||Trackless trolley until April 5, 1962|
|January 28, 1949||44 Seaver–Dudley||Trackless trolley until March 30, 1961|
|January 7, 1949||19 Fields Corner–Dudley via Geneva Avenue||Trackless trolley until April 5, 1962|
|22 Ashmont-Dudley via Talbot Avenue||Trackless trolley until April 5, 1962|
|23 Ashmont-Dudley via Washington Street, Dorchester||Trackless trolley until April 6, 1962|
|December 24, 1948||15 Uphams Corner–Dudley||Trackless trolley until April 5, 1962 (Kane Square–Dudley)|
|45 Grove Hall–Dudley via Blue Hill Avenue||Trackless trolley until April 5, 1962|
|June 18, 1948||20 Fields Corner–Neponset||Trackless trolley until March 30, 1961|
|April 2, 1948||92 Sullivan–subway via Main Street|
|April 18, 1947||101 Salem Street–Sullivan via Winter Hill||Trackless trolley until March 13, 1959|
|April 3, 1947||8 City Point–South Station via Dorchester Avenue||Had been split into two segments since the Dorchester Avenue Bridge closed for reconstruction on December 2, 1946.: 53|
|December 6, 1946||89 Clarendon Hill–Sullivan||Trackless trolley until March 29, 1963|
|November 7, 1941||87 Clarendon Hill–Lechmere via Somerville Avenue||Trackless trolley until March 29, 1963
Ran into the Subway via Lechmere until July 9, 1922
|88 Clarendon Hill–Lechmere via Highland Avenue||Trackless trolley until March 29, 1963
Ran into the Subway via Lechmere until July 9, 1922
|February 16, 1941||Huntington Avenue subway opens, ending 39 and 57 service on eastern Huntington Avenue and Boylston Street, and service through the Boylston Street incline|
|September 1939||90 Davis Square–Sullivan via Highland Avenue||Trackless trolley until November 14, 1956|
|December 1938?||106 Lebanon Street–Everett via Salem Street, Malden Square and Main Street||Trackless trolley until March 29, 1963|
|103 Malden–Everett via Main Street||Was trackless trolley until discontinued April 1962|
|September 9, 1938||66 Allston–Dudley |
|Brookline Village–subway via Huntington Ave ||Rush-hour only truncation of 58/60 (?) from 1932
Cut back to Brigham Circle short-turns
|April 1, 1938||72 Huron Avenue–Harvard via Concord Avenue||Service discontinued ca. 2020 due to covid cutbacks|
|March 4, 1938||48 Dudley–subway||Replaced by Dudley–Tremont & Dover Streets bus
Bus service ended February 1942 
|December 1937||104 Malden–Everett via Ferry Street and Broadway||Trackless trolley until March 29, 1963|
|June 1937||110 Woodlawn–Everett Station via Everett Square||Extended to Revere as trackless trolley in September 1940; trackless trolley until March 29, 1963|
|May 7, 1937||111 Woodlawn–Chelsea Square  ||Extended to City Square as a bus|
|January 1937||109 Linden–Everett via Broadway||Section in Malden was bus Trackless trolley until March 29, 1963|
|ca. 1936||112 Malden Square–Chelsea Square via Everett Square||Trackless trolley until June 23, 1961|
|113 Malden Square–Chelsea Square via Ferry Street||Trackless trolley until discontinued December 8, 1960, with unnumbered summer trackless trolley extensions to Wonderland 1954-1956.|
|October 9, 1936||119 Beachmont–Revere City Hall |
|June 10, 1936||Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Chelsea division (routes 111–119) bought by BERy; some of these had run into the subway until 1935 |
|April 10, 1936||77 Harvard–Lechmere via Cambridge Street ||Renumbered 69 ca. 1967
Trackless trolley until March 30, 1963 (first trackless trolley route)
Ran into the Subway via Lechmere until July 9, 1922
|August 9, 1935||Last day of Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway service from Chelsea, Revere, Lynn and Salem into Tremont Street subway via Mystic River Bridge|
|1933||27 Ashmont–Milton?||Replaced with Ashmont–Mattapan bus?|
|October 23, 1932||Kenmore station opens, with a dual-pronged extension of the Boylston Street subway|
|July 8, 1932||80 Arlington Center–Sullivan via Medford Hillside ||Replaced with Arlington Center–Lechmere bus, later trackless trolley until March 28, 1963 
Streetcar line opened August 31, 1901
|1932||58 Cypress Street–subway via Brookline Ave or Huntington Ave ||Replaced with Cypress Street–Kenmore bus
Brookline Village–subway kept rush hours only
|60 Chestnut Hill–subway via Brookline Ave or Huntington Ave ||Replaced with Chestnut Hill–Kenmore bus
Brookline Village–subway kept rush hours only
|1930||Middlesex and Boston Street Railway substitutes buses for its streetcars|
|1930||Dorchester Avenue |
|ca. 1930||Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Hyde Park and Chelsea/Everett divisions sold to BERy |
|December 21, 1929||28 (Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line) opens to Mattapan|
|August 26, 1929||28 (Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line) opens to Milton|
|January 18, 1929||11 Broadway?–Bay View |
|late 1928 or early 1929||26 Dudley–Nelson & Norfolk Streets ||Replaced with Ashmont–Morton & Corbett Streets bus|
|late 1928||25 Andrew–Washington & Fairmount Streets ||Replaced with Ashmont–Washington Street & Gallivan Boulevard bus|
|April 17, 1924||Last day of streetcars through the East Boston Tunnel|
|July 9, 1922||Last day of lines (77, 87, 88) entering the subway via Lechmere|
|1920s||21 Fields Corner–Adams Street||Merged with 20 September 1962
Was trackless trolley?
|65 Boston College–Brookline Village |
|81 Arlington Center–Clarendon Hill||Later trackless trolley until March 29, 1963
Merged with 89 October 1961
Split off into 81 Arlington Center–Lechmere April 1963
Renumbered as rush-hour extension of 87 ca. 1967.
|Sullivan–Dudley via Subway |
|102 Malden–Faulkner via Main Street and Cross Street||Trackless trolley until March 28, 1963|
|105 Faulkner–Everett via Cross Street and Main Street||Trackless trolley until March 29, 1963|
|March 15, 1919||Charlestown Elevated opens to Everett, many streetcar lines cut back from Sullivan to Everett|
|ca. 1919||Harvard Square–Jeffries Point via East Boston Tunnel [permanent dead link]|
MTA streetcar routes as of 1953
As of 1953 the Metropolitan Transit Authority operated the following streetcar routes. All lines were connected via trackage to the Tremont Street subway (Green Line), but only the 9, 39, 43, 57, 61, 62 and 69 actually operated in the subway.
See Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line.
The 29 Mattapan–Egleston via Blue Hill Avenue and Seaver Street ran from Mattapan north on Blue Hill Avenue and Seaver Street (both parts of Route 28) to Egleston. Streetcars last operated on September 9, 1955, and buses began the next day.
In May 1987, the Orange Line was relocated, and the 29 was extended from Egleston to Jackson Square; some off-peak service extends to Ruggles. The route is now the 29 Mattapan–Jackson Square via Blue Hill Avenue and Seaver Street, with extended service as the 29 Mattapan–Ruggles via Blue Hill Avenue, Seaver Street and Jackson Square.
The 30 Mattapan–Roslindale via Cummins Highway ran from Mattapan along Cummins Highway to Roslindale Square. Streetcars last operated on April 24, 1953, and buses began the next day.
Since 1995, the MBTA has been extending an increasing number of trips to Forest Hills; now only Sunday trips still end at Roslindale. Forest Hills trips are thus 30 Mattapan–Forest Hills via Roslindale Square and Cummins Highway.
See Green Line E branch.
The short 40 Arborway–Egleston via Washington Street ran under the Washington Street Elevated between Egleston and Forest Hills, with streetcars last running December 17, 1955 and buses beginning the next day. The route was discontinued in June 1971, and in April 1981 the 42 was extended to cover the former 40 route.
The 43 North Station–Egleston via Tremont Street was one of two routes to use the Pleasant Street incline. Before December 5, 1953, when the 9 operated into the same incline, the 43 used the two west tracks. Afterwards, it was realigned to use the two east tracks, allowing for a larger bus transfer area to the west.
The 43 came out of the portal and used Tremont Street and Columbus Avenue to Egleston. The tracks south of the loop at Lenox Street were last used on June 14, 1956, and the next day Route 43 buses started running from Lenox Street south to Egleston. The rest of the surface tracks were last used November 17, 1961, and the bus route was extended to the portal, where a short-lived subway shuttle connected to Boylston. At the same time, the route was extended on the surface to Boylston.
In February 1966, the buses were removed from Boylston Street, but they were extended around the Boston Common in June 1972. In May 1987, the south end was truncated from Egleston to the new Ruggles station, forming the current route 43.
The 47 Massachusetts station–Dudley was a short route, beginning at Massachusetts Avenue station (now Hynes Convention Center) and running south along Massachusetts Avenue, southwest one block on Columbus Avenue, southeast on Northampton Street and southwest on Washington Street to Dudley Square. Streetcars last operated September 12, 1953, with buses running the next day.
In September 1962, the route was merged with the 76 Harvard–Massachusetts station to form the 1 Harvard–Dudley via Massachusetts Avenue. The old 47 service has since been slightly rerouted.
Short-turn of route 39, see Green Line E branch.
See Green Line C branch.
See Green Line B branch.
See Green Line A branch.
The 79 Arlington Heights–Harvard via Massachusetts Avenue ran between Arlington Heights and the Harvard bus tunnel via Massachusetts Avenue. Streetcars last ran November 18, 1955, buses began running the next day, and it was renumbered to the 77 Arlington Heights-Harvard via Massachusetts Avenue in the late 1960s.
The 92 Sullivan–Scollay Square via Main line ran from Sullivan south on Main Street under the Charlestown Elevated (using Park Street and Warren Street northbound near City Square), then over the Charlestown Bridge, west on Causeway Street, and into the Tremont Street subway via the Causeway Street incline, turning around at the Brattle Loop at Scollay. Streetcars last ran on April 2, 1948, but the tracks were kept until 1962 to access the 100 tracks and Everett Shops.
Bus service on the 92 Sullivan–Haymarket via Main began April 3, 1948, and has changed very little. Aside from a few realignments near City Square in Charlestown, and an extension to Assembly Square Mall in June 1982, the only real change has been the extension of early morning weekday service to Downtown Crossing in December 2002, operating as 92 Assembly Square Mall–Downtown via Main (normal service is 92 Assembly Square Mall–Haymarket via Sullivan and Main).
The 93 Sullivan–Scollay Square via Bunker Hill Street line was a variant of the 92, using Bunker Hill Street and Chelsea Street in Charlestown. Streetcars last ran July 1, 1949, and the 93 Sullivan–Haymarket via Bunker Hill Street bus route began operation the next day, using Washington Street between the Charlestown Bridge and Haymarket. Due to the construction of the Tobin Bridge, which opened in 1950, the route in Charlestown was immediately realigned. Not much has changed since then, except in June 2004, when early morning weekday trips were extended to Downtown Crossing as the 93 Sullivan–Downtown via Bunker Hill Street.
The 100 Elm Street–Sullivan via Fellsway streetcar line last operated on December 16, 1955, running between Elm Street on Fellsway West in Medford and Sullivan, and was bustituted the next day. When the new Wellington station opened in September 1975, the route was rerouted east on Revere Beach Parkway to terminate there; the 100 now operates as Elm Street–Wellington via Fellsway.
The tracks used to continue north, owned by the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway, and later became the 100A bus.
Track connections to the rest of the system were provided by the otherwise unused streetcar tracks under the Charlestown Elevated from Sullivan south to the Causeway Street incline, once used by the 92.
Eastern Massachusetts routes
These routes were operated by the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway. They were only given numbers on March 30, 1968, when the MBTA took over, and long after buses replaced them. The numbers refer to the later bus routes.
Only two lines were left in 1937.
This streetcar line ran between Stoneham and Sullivan Square, via the tracks of the 100. It ran from the north end of the 100 through the Middlesex Fells on a privateright-of-way west of Fellsway West, and then to Stoneham center. Until around 1940, it continued north to Farm Hill on the Stoneham Branch Railroad.
The line was bustituted in 1946. In 1968 the MBTA took it over as the 430, and from March 1969 to the end of its service in September 1971, it was the 100A Reading-Sullivan via Main Street and Fellsway.
Two Quincy routes left Fields Corner on Adams Street and Neponset Avenue, running to Quincy center and then splitting. One line continued to Hough’s Neck, and the other to Quincy Point and the Fore River Shipyard. The lines were bustituted in 1948.
- Clarke, Bradley H. (2003). Streetcar Lines of the Hub–The 1940s. Boston Street Railway Association. ISBN 0938315056.
- Barber, Richard (March–April 1984). “Pertinent Routes Relating to Trackless Trolley Operations”. Rollsign. Vol. 21, no. 3/4. p. 15.
- “New Dudley-Dover Sts Buses Start Tomorrow”. Boston Globe. March 4, 1938. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.
- Carlson et al. (1986), The Colorful Streetcars We Rode, Bulletin 125 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association, Chicago, Il. ISBN 0-915348-25-X
- Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA District 1964-Present (PDF)
- m00209, MBTA Green Line — unused tunnel at Boylston station, rec.railroad May 5, 1994
- RTSPCC, Boston Trolleys, misc.transport.urban-transit June 4, 1998
- TIMEPOINTS VOL 3 NO 2 August 1951
- Trackless Trolley Routes
- rtspcc, More Boston streetcar questions, ne.transportation May 20, 2005
- Boston Transit Routes, chicagorailfan.com
- Boston Elevated Railway system maps: 1930 1936 1937 1940 1943 1946