Wheelchair Accessible Transportation
There are a variety of very wheelchair friendly transportation options in and around Boston. Whether you are looking to visit city attractions or tour one of the many local landmarks - your guaranteed an accessible, comfortable transportation experience. Below you will find the information you need to make Boston easily accessible.
Are you looking to purchase an accessible van? Watch my video review before you shop? You will be shocked with my conclusions.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
THE RIDE Paratransit Service
Jim's Comments: THE RIDE paratransit service provides door-to door, shared-ride transportation to eligible people who cannot use fixed-route transit (bus, subway, trolley) all or some of the time because of a physical, cognitive or mental disability.
THE RIDE is operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, paratransit functions as a 'safety net' for people whose disabilities prevent them from using public transit. It is not intended to be a comprehensive system of transportation that meets all the needs of persons with disabilities, and it is distinct from medical or human services transportation. You will travel with other customers going in the same general direction.
Accessible vehicles are used to serve persons with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs and scooters. THE RIDE operates 365 days a year generally from 5 AM - 1 AM in sixty (60) cities and towns. In areas with fixed-route service that operates outside of these hours, or in other municipalities within 3/4 miles of MBTA bus service, extended RIDE service is available.
New or recertifying applicants to THE RIDE must apply for or renew their eligibility by appearing in-person for an interview with a Mobility Coordinator. Call THE RIDE Eligibility Center at 617-337-2727 for an appointment.
Eligibility for out of area visitors
Visitors to the Boston area who wish to use THE RIDE should call THE RIDE Eligibility Center at 617-337-2727. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows you to travel as a visitor for 21 days in a 12-month period. You will need to provide a copy of your ADA Paratransit Certificate of Eligibility from your home transit agency, along with your contact information while in the area.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, often referred to as the MBTA or "The T", is the public operator of most bus, subway, commuter rail, and ferry routes in the greater Boston, Massachusetts area.
According to MBTA all its MBTA buses are accessible. Since 2007, all MBTA elevators have been operational approximately 99% of the time. Portable bridge plates are available at all Red, Orange and Blue line stations if needed to span the gap between the platform and car floor. Contact the MBTA station personnel or train staff if you require the use of a bridge plate.
All MBTA buses are equipped with:
- The capability to kneel or lower for customer convenience.
- Lifts (on high-floor buses) or ramps (on low-floor buses).
- Two securement areas for wheeled mobility devices.
- Automated stop announcement equipment that announces the route number, destination, and every stop along the route as the bus travels to its destination.
- Priority seating areas (normally found near the front of the bus).
- Bus operators will make every attempt to pull up to the curb at a bus stop. If they are unable to pull up to the curb, the operator will board you or let you off at a safer location nearby.
Jim's Comments: I’ve been to Boston many times but the well known T-Line (commuter rail) always seems like a challenge, perhaps laughable. I know many stations are not accessible or are “out-of-order” from time to time. Frankly I don’t trust the T-Line but I’m interested in your comments, especially getting to the Red Sox games at Fenway. And I hate it when metro systems tell me to call in advance for “portable bridge plates”. Really?
All of the Boston taxi services have some roll-in accessible taxis although the accessibility laws are 10 years old and many taxis have limits on wheelchair width. Metro Cab has approximately 30 taxis. Call well in advance (up to an hour or so) and don’t expect much after a Red Sox game.
Jim's Comments: Metro Cab now even has a mobile app for calling a wheelchair accessible taxi (which I haven't yet tried). Please let me know if it actually works.
The Steamship Authority
509 Falmouth Road Suite 1 C
Mashpee, MA 02649
Since 1818, the vessels of the Steamship Authority and its predecessors have been traveling the waters of Woods Hole and Martha's Vineyard as well as Hyannis and Nantucket. The Steamship Authority is both a vehicle and passenger ferry year around.
Accessible Ferries (and those that are not)
- Eagle Ferry
- Island Home Ferry
- Martha's Vineyard Ferry
- Nantucket Ferry
All passenger decks of all four of the SSA’s large passenger/vehicle ferries (the Eagle, the Island Home, the Martha's Vineyard and the Nantucket) are fully accessible.
Each ferry is equipped with elevators that transport passengers between the vehicle deck and all passenger decks (including the food and beverage service area). Access to the elevator is by the transfer bridge that is used to load vehicles onto the ferry.
Passengers wishing to use the elevator should arrive at the ferry terminal 30 minutes prior to their scheduled departure time. Upon arriving, they should notify an SSA terminal agent that they require access to the elevator for boarding. This applies to all passengers who wish to use the elevator whether or not they are traveling with their vehicles.
Accessible rest rooms are also available on all four of the SSA’s large passenger/vehicle ferries.
- Iyanough Ferry (the SSA's high-speed passenger ferry)
The main passenger deck of the Iyanough is fully accessible (including rest rooms and the food and beverage service area). Access to the Iyanough’s main passenger deck is by the transfer bridge that is used to board all passengers onto the ferry. The Iyanough’s upper deck is not accessible.
The freight ferry’s Governor and Sankaty have limited accessibility and the Gay Head and Katama have no accessibility
All of the SSA’s ferry terminals are accessible and have accessible rest rooms.
Jim’s Comment: We drove our car onto the SSA Nantucket ferry to Nantucket and had a marvelous weekend, although I stayed in the car during the crossing. Because of weather conditions (mid-summer) the Ferry was postponed a day. So be prepared for a lay over and get to the ferry terminal at least an hour in advance. Nantucket is a town of large cobblestone streets that are not wheelchair friendly, but it’s a fun, beautiful and exciting town with lots to do.
220 Ocean St
Hyannis , MA 02601
Hy-Line ferries leave from Hyannis departing to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and are reasonably wheelchair accessible although not all decks are wheelchair accessible. Portable ramps are used for entry and all have wheelchair accessible restrooms.
- Grey Lady (Hi-Speed)
- Lady Martha (Hi-Speed)
- Great Point
- Brant Point
There are multiple other ferry ships in the area including Freedom Cruise Line, Falmouth Ferry and Island Queen which are not wheelchair accessible, have no accessible restroom or require specialized assistance. The Island Queen has an accessible deck via ramp but does not have an accessible restroom.
Accessible van rentals are relatively expensive and cost $90-$150 per day plus mileage. Many charge an additional $90-$150 for delivery and pick-up services. Some rental companies will not add hand controls or provide transfer/swivel seats, preferring to rent to able bodied persons who drive persons confined to wheelchairs. Wheelers utilizes the MV1 van while the others offer Dodge vans. Wheelers and Mobility Works do not offer hand controls.
Wheelchair Getaways Phone: 508-336-2556 Website
Wheelers Phone: 866-859-8880 Website
Mobility Works of Norwood Phone: 781-278-8885 Website Verc Car Rentals Phone: 781-331-7000 Website Premier Accessible Van Rental Phone: 866-744-8267 (Hartford, Conn)