Back Bay Station Vs South Station: How Do Boston’S Major Train Stations Compare?

Catching a train in Boston? You’ll likely be traveling through one of the city’s two major rail stations. Back Bay Station serves Amtrak and commuter rail lines, while South Station is a stop for Amtrak, MBTA commuter rail, intercity bus, and Red Line subway service.

If you’re wondering how these two transportation hubs stack up, read on for a detailed comparison.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: South Station is much larger and serves more transit lines, but Back Bay Station is more centrally located and convenient for travelers visiting attractions like Newbury Street and the Prudential Center.

Locations and Accessibility

Where South Station and Back Bay Station Are Located

South Station and Back Bay Station are two major train stations in Boston, Massachusetts. South Station is located in the heart of the city, right next to the Financial District. It is situated at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Summer Street, making it easily accessible by various modes of transportation.

On the other hand, Back Bay Station is located in the Back Bay neighborhood, specifically at the intersection of Dartmouth and Stuart Streets. This location is known for its proximity to popular tourist spots, such as the Prudential Center and Newbury Street, making it a convenient choice for travelers looking to explore the city.

Public Transportation Options at Each Station

Both South Station and Back Bay Station are well-connected to public transportation, allowing commuters and travelers to easily access other parts of the city. At South Station, you will find multiple options for public transportation, including the subway (known as the “T”), buses, and commuter rail lines.

This makes it a hub for local and regional travel.

Back Bay Station, although smaller in size, also offers convenient access to public transportation. It is served by the subway’s Orange Line and commuter rail lines, providing easy connections to other parts of Boston and beyond.

Furthermore, both stations are within walking distance of many popular attractions and landmarks. South Station is just a short walk from the historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace, while Back Bay Station is close to the iconic Boston Public Library.

Transit Lines and Destinations Served

Commuter Rail and Amtrak Routes from Each Station

Both Back Bay Station and South Station in Boston offer a variety of commuter rail and Amtrak routes, connecting travelers to various destinations.

Back Bay Station primarily serves as a hub for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, offering convenient access to cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. It also provides commuter rail service on the Framingham/Worcester Line, which connects to suburbs west of Boston.

On the other hand, South Station is a major transportation hub, serving both commuter rail and Amtrak routes. It offers a wide range of commuter rail lines, including the Providence/Stoughton Line, the Fairmount Line, and the Plymouth/Kingston Line, among others.

These lines connect to various suburbs in Greater Boston and neighboring cities such as Providence and Worcester.

Amtrak routes from South Station include not only the Northeast Corridor, but also the Downeaster line, which connects Boston to destinations in Maine such as Portland and Brunswick.

Both stations provide convenient access to regional and national rail travel, allowing passengers to easily reach their desired destinations.

Intercity Bus Options at South Station

While Back Bay Station primarily focuses on rail travel, South Station offers additional options for intercity bus travel.

At South Station, travelers can find various bus services operated by companies such as Greyhound, Megabus, and Peter Pan. These bus services connect Boston to destinations throughout the United States, including New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

With the availability of intercity bus options at South Station, passengers have the flexibility to choose between different modes of transportation based on their preferences and travel needs.

For more information on commuter rail and Amtrak routes, visit the MBTA website. To explore intercity bus options, check the websites of specific bus companies such as Greyhound (, Megabus (, and Peter Pan (

Station Amenities for Travelers

Food and Shopping at South Station and Back Bay

Both South Station and Back Bay Station offer a variety of dining and shopping options for travelers.

At South Station, you’ll find a bustling food court with a wide range of fast food and casual dining options. From popular chains like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts to local favorites like Legal Sea Foods, there’s something for everyone.

The station also boasts a selection of shops, including convenience stores, bookstores, and gift shops, where you can find last-minute travel essentials or souvenirs.

Back Bay Station, on the other hand, offers a more relaxed dining experience. With its cozy cafes and upscale restaurants, you can enjoy a leisurely meal before or after your train journey. The station also features a small selection of shops, specializing in items like books, magazines, and travel accessories.

Both stations have options for grabbing a quick bite or picking up a last-minute item, but South Station’s extensive food court and wider range of shops make it a popular choice for travelers looking for variety and convenience.

Waiting Areas and WiFi Availability

When it comes to waiting areas and WiFi availability, both South Station and Back Bay Station have amenities to make your travel experience more comfortable.

At South Station, you’ll find spacious waiting areas with comfortable seating and charging stations for your electronic devices. The station also offers free WiFi, allowing you to stay connected while waiting for your train.

Additionally, South Station provides ticketing and information desks, restrooms, and even a lounge area for Amtrak passengers.

Back Bay Station, while smaller in size, still offers comfortable seating areas and free WiFi for travelers. The station also provides ticketing and information services, as well as restrooms for your convenience.

Both stations strive to provide travelers with comfortable waiting areas and access to WiFi, ensuring that you can stay connected and entertained while waiting for your train.


South Station Back Bay Station
Food and Shopping Options Wide variety of fast food and casual dining options, extensive food court, and a range of shops Cozy cafes, upscale restaurants, and a small selection of shops
Waiting Areas Spacious waiting areas with comfortable seating, charging stations, and a lounge area for Amtrak passengers Comfortable seating areas
WiFi Availability Free WiFi Free WiFi


In the end, South Station offers connections to more transit services, while Back Bay Station’s smaller size and tourist-friendly location make it preferable for some travelers. Understanding their key differences allows you to choose your Boston train station strategically.

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