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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
johnross Origins/Tune Req: The MTA Song (88* d) RE: Origins/Tune Req: The MTA Song 18 Sep 08

Simple answer: West End Street Railway > Boston Elevated > Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) > Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, aka "The T").

When Charlie got on the train in 1949, it was the MTA.

Complicated answer:

The earliest street railway in the Boston area was the Union Railway Co., which ran horsecars from Cambridge to Boston, starting in 1856.

By 1888, several street railways in Boston -- including The Cambridge, the Metropolitan, the South Boston, the Boston Consolidated (a merger of the Middlesex and the Highland) and the West End Street Railways -- merged into the West End Street Railway. The West End started electric service in 1889, and completely replaced horsecars by the end of 1900.

In 1894, the Boston Elevated Railway was chartered to build rapid transit lines. The B.E.R. built America's first subway, which opened in 1897. The B.E.R. leased the property of the West End Street Railway, beginning in 1897.

The Boston Elevated was a private company, but the state took control in 1918, although it was still owned by private investors. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (the state government) purchased the property in 1947 and created the Metropolitan Transit Authority (the MTA) to operate it. By that time the B.E.R. was a complex system of bus, streetcar, trackless trolley, elevated and subway lines. The MTA's area of operation included the City of Boston and 13 nearby suburban towns and cities.

The MTA was replaced in 1964 by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which served a larger area than the MTA (originally 78 cities and towns, expanded to 175 cities and towns by 1999).

The MBTA gradually either took over operation or subsidized the commuter rail services that had been operated by the Boston & Maine, New Haven, and New York Central Railroads. In 2003, the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company (MBCR) took over operation of MBTA commuter rail service.

Meantime, the Bay State Street Railway operated lines all over eastern Massachusetts, and into New Hampshire and Rhode Island. By 1901, it had absorbed 72 earlier independent properties. They entered Boston on the tracks of the Boston Elevated. In 1919, the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway took over the Bay State, which it converted to an all-bus system by 1949. The MBTA acquired the Eastern Mass. in 1968.

The Middlesex & Boston Street Railway was organized in 1907 was centered in Newton and Waltham, but it covered a wide area west and north of Boston. It was a consolidation of many earlier lines. The M&B connected to the B.E.R at Arlington Heights, Watertown and Brighton (they ran trolleys from Norumbega Park along Commonwealth Avenue in Newton and into the Boston subway on the B.E.R. tracks until 1914). The M&B continued running bus services until 1972, when the MBTA took over its lines.

The Boston & Worcester ran interurban trolley service from 1903 to 1931, and busses until 1988.

Are you confused yet?

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