At many airports in the United States and around the world, finding accessible transportation connections to the city is a stressful experience — not so in Boston, Massachusetts, where the city’s Silver Line bus service to the city center is a model for other destinations to follow.

Silver Line SL1 Stops and Stations

The Silver Line, operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), is a bus rapid transit system (BRT) consisting of six routes (SL1 through SL5 and SLW) that operates both above- and below-ground. In this article, I’ll focus on SL1, which provides service between the Boston Logan Airport (BOS) and South Station in Downtown Boston.

Silver Line 1, or SL1, stops at the following stations:

  • South Station
  • Courthouse
  • World Trade Center
  • Silver Line Way
  • Boston Logan International Airport Terminal A
  • Airport Terminal B, Stop 1
  • Airport Terminal B, Stop 2
  • Airport Terminal C
  • Airport Terminal E

The Silver Line bus operates below-ground in a dedicated tunnel between South Station and the World Trade Center, before emerging at Silver Line Way and continuing to the airport on public roads including the Ted Williams Tunnel.

Each stop on the SL1 is wheelchair accessible, with the underground stations accessed via elevators. Travelers connecting between the Red and Silver lines at South Station can do so entirely within the MBTA subway system’s fare zone. Additional connections at South Station are possible, such as to the MBTA Commuter Rail, Amtrak Northeast Regional, Amtrak Acela, intercity bus services such as Greyhound and Megabus, and other Silver Line routes.

SL1 stops at the airport are on the arrivals level, along the curb directly outside of baggage claim. The stops are covered, with large Silver Line signs hanging at the designated pick-up points.

Wheelchair Accessibility of the Silver Line SL1 Bus

The Silver Line SL1 is serviced by 60-foot articulated hybrid buses with extended battery range, allowing them to complete trips underground on electric power.

Ramp extended onto sidewalk from Silver Line bus.

SL1 buses feature an automatic wheelchair ramp at the front boarding door and kneeling technology, as well as two wheelchair securement spaces with four-point tie downs and seat belts for passengers who request them. Each SL1 bus has luggage racks, ensuring airline passengers have a place to store checked baggage.

Fare-Free Transportation from Logan Airport to Downtown Boston

At the three underground “transitway” stations — South Station, Courthouse, and World Trade Center, passengers enter through fare gates just as they would at any other MBTA subway station. The fare is $2.40, payable with a fare ticket or reloadable CharlieCard. At the above-ground Silver line Way station, passengers pay onboard using cash or a CharlieCard.

No fares are collected at the Boston Logan Airport stations, a policy that sets Boston’s Silver Line apart from other public transportation services at major airports. Fare collection at airport stations would dramatically slow the Silver Line service, with residents fumbling for fare cards and cash while holding luggage, and visitors unfamiliar with Boston transit questioning payment options. As such, all passengers boarding at Boston Logan International Airport do so fare-free, a policy which guarantees timely SL1 service — transit times between the airport and South Station are as little as 15 minutes.

Final Thoughts

I was a regular visitor to Boston long before I became a resident, and the Silver Line’s offer of fare-free, frequent and accessible transportation from Logan Airport made arrivals to the city easy and hassle-free. Providing fare-free transit to visitors on arrival makes “Welcome to Boston” mean something, and it’s a policy other cities should adopt as well, if not for the feel-good vibes then certainly for efficiency!

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