(Almost) Everything You Wanted to Know About the MBTA

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[WARNING: Hard-core transportation nerdiness ahead. Consider yourself warned.]

As a user of the MBTA and a fan of transit (no, really), there’s no better place to learn about the minutiae of the system than the T’s Blue Book. It tells you everything (well, almost) you could want to know about the system.

Within its pages, you find stuff like:

• Most heavily used subway line? Red Line at 74.45m trips per year, which narrowly edges out the Green Line. And the Blue Line lags way behind at 17.88m trips per year.

• Most popular station? Downtown Crossing, with 22,880 entries and transfers on a typical weekday. Least popular? Suffolk Downs, with only 794.

• Who’s on the bus? The T has a bunch of really low volume bus routes (that they’ve been trying to prune for years). The 468 (Salem Depot – Danvers Sq. via Peabody) runs 4 trips (2 full round trips per day) and has 14 boardings per day. If you assume those are round trips, that’s 7 customers on an average day. And there are plenty more like this – 20 routes with fewer than 100 boardings per day.

• Most popular bus route? The Dudley Square to Downtown Crossing Silver Line wins with 14,709 boardings per day. Two other lines (66 and 39) run a close second and third with 14,000 boardings plus per day.

• My personal favorite T service? The “Mattapan High Speed Line” which has about 9,000 boardings per day, running really old school rolling stock from the 1940s. I’ll do a separate piece on this in a few weeks.

• Most popular commuter rail station – Excepting the termination points of South and North Station, Mansfield wins with 3,763 boarding on a typical weekday. Least popular? JFK/UMASS with 1 and Silver Hill (Fitchburg Line) with 21.

Ok, let me stop there. But if you want to know more about the MBTA, the Blue Book will tell you almost all you need to know.

What’s missing? I recall in some previous years they have put cost per rider information (i.e. the operating cost of the route divided by the number of riders) in the bus service section. This let you determine how much of a subsidy was going into the routes and the results were illuminating. The Dudley Square leg of the Silver Line comes close to breaking even (on operating costs, that is) while the really low volume routes have costs of $20 per rider and up.

So for you transit types, go grab a copy and get the hard data on what exactly the MBTA does.

Crossposted at Boston Daily.