Using public transportation is good because you get to know local life much better. If you get in a car, you can go where you want and, of course, meet a lot fewer people.
We deliberately planned this trip to use public transportation and walk.
We took an Uber from the airport to the hotel, which allowed us to explore the "tunnel system" in the city center, as there are many places where traffic runs through long tunnels.
We opted for the 7-day CharlieCard, which costs $22.50 per person. It's like a contactless debit card (NFC): when you get on the bus, you touch the reader, and you're done. And on the subway, it opens the gate.
We bought it from a machine at the bus station. Unfortunately, the device couldn't give us a receipt at that time because it had a problem… This was (would be) important later when we had issues with the card.
With this ticket, you can make unlimited trips. It can be used in virtually all vehicles, even on long-distance buses and ferries.
It can be used to purchase a monthly pass ($55 or $90, depending on the vehicle), a day pass ($11), and as a top-up card. In the latter case, the card can be loaded with money, and the amount is debited when boarding a vehicle. A bus ticket costs $1.70, and a metro ticket $2.40 (also applies to transfers in the metro).
One can also buy tickets via the mTicket app (App Store|Google Play). However, it soon turned out that purchasing a weekly ticket was impossible. Also, it's not necessarily tourist-friendly because to buy a ticket, you have to specify the stop from A to B, which is hard to understand as non-local. When we tried to find the stop by our hotel, we couldn't find it, so we're not sure what we should have entered.
CharlieCard and the vending machines seemed easier.
Csibi downloaded a transportation app recommended by the mTicket app: Transit (App Store|Google Play). It includes schedules and live information. There are both free and paid parts. As a tourist, the free part is quite sufficient (and ad-free).
The timetable looks good, because you can see how late the bus is, and on the map, you can even see the little bus symbol where it is. Not only Boston, but hundreds of cities have schedules and live data. Charlotte is one of them that we could have used several times.
So the app is excellent!
But the traffic itself is not so much. I mean, everything is fine with the subway. The subways run frequently, but I've pointed out several times in posts that with green and red subways, you have to be very careful which line you take!
However, the buses are delayed often and for a long time. There are many different bus routes, and the app (and Google Maps) make it easy to get around! The delays can be annoying because they are not just a few minutes late, but occasionally even up to 39 minutes.
It's completely unpredictable when there are only a few people on the bus. We thought that there would be significantly more people after closing time.
But even at 12 noon, we encountered a full bus. And at 7 p.m., there was a 30-minute delay.
Only some places have a dedicated bus lane, so you're often stuck in traffic. Or you just wait at the bus stop.
Otherwise, the buses are basically clean, but there are a lot of weird guys.
There were several days when no tickets were requested. We don't know why.
We used public transportation at home - in Hungary - and I've used it practically all my life, so this is not a big surprise. Still, it's certainly not an attractive alternative in many ways.
And here in America, we prefer to go by car - many places are otherwise inaccessible or difficult to get to.
I may have mentioned this example before: we live about 12-15 minutes by car from the airport, but by bus, it's at least an hour and a half to two hours.
Again, it's a plus that we could use the CharlieCard to go to Salem, for example, which is almost an hour and a half away.
So we have mixed feelings about the traffic. However, it was 100% a good decision not to rent a car, partly because of the traffic jams and because parking would have challenging (and probably not cheap).
On the last day, when we walked from the Cathedral to the Public Garden, it showed again that it was effortless to get from A to B on foot, and I think it was much faster than taking the bus!
We don't ride bikes, but BLUEbikes is part of Boston's public transportation system.
It costs $26.75 for a month, and the first 45 minutes are free.
A day pass is $10, and the first 2 hours are free, then $2.50 per additional 30 minutes or part thereof.
If you only need it occasionally, the first 30 minutes cost $2.95, then $2.50 per additional 30 minutes.
A critical piece of information is that there is a $25 deposit per transaction for daily passes and occasional use, which is released after 7 days.
In many places, there are bike lanes, and bikes can be used in designated bus lanes.
So when in Boston, do a lot of walking or use public transportation, as it works well and is easy to get around. Just be prepared for traffic jams and delays!