Accessibility on the Commuter Rail

Woman in wheelchair boarding Commuter Rail train with assistance from conductor

Everyone deserves access to the Commuter Rail. Whether you have mobility issues, are hard of hearing, or are visually-impaired – accessible transit benefits everyone. This includes older adults, parents, students, commuters, tourists, and the many other riders that we serve every day. Accessible trains allow more people to go green, save money, discover more fun things to do, and avoid traffic. Everybody wins!

115 of the 142 Commuter Rail stations are accessible, and we continue to improve stations until all are accessible. Meanwhile, always check station accessibility features before you start your trip. You can also plan an accessible journey with the MBTA trip planner. If you need assistance finding the correct platform or train, MBTA staff members are available at North Station, South Station, and Back Bay Station to help you find your platform or buy tickets for your trip.

Accessible Platforms

Accessible platforms are necessary for people with all levels of mobility challenges. Commuter Rail Stations offer three types of platforms:

  • Full high-level platforms allow for level boarding at all cars of the train.
  • Mini high-level platforms allow for level boarding at 2 cars of the train.
  • Low-level platforms require customers to climb 3-4 steps to board the train. 

At both full high-level and mini high-level platforms, the conductor can deploy a bridge plate upon request to span the gap between the train and the platform. Stations with low-level platforms are currently undergoing updates to make them more accessible. Some will get full redesigns to become high-level platforms, while others are getting elevators installed on both inbound and outbound sides of the tracks.

Chelsea Commuter Rail Accessible Ramp
Chelsea Commuter Rail Accessible Ramp

Priority Seating

Priority seating is available near every train door. Designated seating areas are available for customers who use wheeled mobility devices. They’re also useful for people with walkers, service animals, and other aids. Customers are expected to yield priority seats to older adults and people with disabilities, but cannot be forced to move. This is because not all disabilities are visible or obvious.

Transportation Access Pass (TAP) CharlieCard

People with disabilities and Medicare card holders are eligible for reduced MBTA fares with a Transportation Access Pass (TAP) CharlieCard. Among other benefits, this card can be used to purchase reduced monthly passes for the Commuter Rail. 

Blind Access Cards

If you are legally blind, not only are guide dogs always allowed on the Commuter Rail, but you can ride for free with the Blind Access CharlieCard. People with a Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) ID or Certificate of Blindness are eligible for a Blind Access CharlieCard.

Out-of-state visitors, such as those from Rhode Island who use the Commuter Rail to get up to Boston, can also get a Blind Access CharlieCard. Just provide the appropriate documentation and you’ll receive a temporary MBTA pass valid for seven days. Then, within 7-10 days of your application, you will also receive a permanent Blind Access Card valid for future visits to the Greater Boston area.

Future Accessibility Plans for the Commuter Rail

Even with the accessibility the stations have today, there’s still much more to come. The MBTA is committed to building a fully accessible system, and we’ve been hard at work developing our Plan for Accessible Transit Infrastructure (PATI). This is a roadmap for the improvements that will help us create a full-accessible mode of transportation for all.