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Boston is about 2 and a half hours east of Williams along Route 2.
Getting to Boston
There are at least four ways to get to Boston for a given weekend.
- During breaks in the academic year (Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Dead Week, Spring Break, and Summer Break), the Williams Transport Motor Coach service runs to Boston. Tickets cost $26 each way. You can reserve them online at http://motorcoach.williams.edu starting about 12 days before each break. The coaches used are comfortable, leave on time, and are less expensive than other options that leave from Williams. However, if you're not traveling during one of the 5 major breaks you'll have to use one of the methods below.
- The Peter Pan/Bonanza bus leaves out of the Williams Inn at 10 AM every morning and 4 PM every afternoon. There are stops in Pittsfield and Springfield. Each way takes four hours and costs $44. There is no round-trip discount. You can reserve a ticket by calling up the Williams Inn, or just showing up to the front desk a few minutes before the bus leaves. It is not the most pleasant ride, however.
- Amtrak runs a line from Pittsfield (leaves 2:06 PM) to Boston (arrives 6:20 PM) that costs $27 round-trip. It tends to be up to several hours late, but is a comfortable ride for the price, should the planets align such that the train shows up before you've given up and left. However, you'll still need to figure out how to get to Pittsfield.
- Find someone with a car and offer to pay for gas. A good way to do this by posting on WSO's Rideboard.
Important: Don't get left in Pittsfield
A common error is to buy a bus ticket from Boston (or Springfield, etc.) to Williamstown, expecting to have a two-hour layover in the Pittsfield bus station from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM and then take the bus to Williams, arriving at 10 pm. However, the Pittsfield bus station closes at 6 pm (?) and is definitely closed from 7:30 to 9:30, and the street corner upon which you must therefore stand for two hours is frequented by drug dealers, murderers and other scary people (this was driven into my head by my taxi driver on several occasions). Thus, do not buy the part of the ticket from Pittsfield to Williamstown; instead, just buy Boston to Pittsfield (saving $7 or something). Call Rainbow Taxi from Springfield (413-499-4860 or call Security at 4444 and they'll give you the number) and arrange for them to pick you up when you arrive in Pittsfield. The taxi costs $40 (see if other Williams students are on your bus so that you can split the cost) and is expensive but preferable to being abandoned or stabbed. See student testimonials:
- On the way back, a student was left at the Pittsfield station late at night and told by the bus driver that the next bus may or may not show up that night. Also, prepare to be pan-handled in Springfield and/or stabbed, as this happened to a man a few hours prior to my arrival at said bus station.
Switching from North Station to South Station
Getting from North Station to South Station in Boston is necessary if you are taking the train or bus from points north (for instance, Williams) and want to take the train to points south (for instance, New Jersey or Mystic), because no train goes through Boston. To expedite your travel, follow these directions.
Estimated time: 20 minutes. You will need $1.25.
Once inside North Station, follow signs to the T. (The symbol for the T is a black T with a circle around it.) You will take an escalator down. You want the Green line towards Boston College, Cleveland Circle, Riverside, or Heath St. (T map) If you have exact change, find a turnstile that accepts quarters. Otherwise, purchase a token for $1.25. Once inside the station, follow the signs to reach your train platform.
Take the Green line three stops to Park St. Get off and change to the Red line towards Mattapan or Braintree and take it two stops to South Station.
Alternatively, you can take the Orange line three stops to Downtown Crossing, then change to the Red line. However, the Orange line's service is much more intermittent and unreliable than the Green line's service, especially at late hours. Furthermore, the Green line is recommended if you are traveling alone at night, since Downtown Crossing is somewhat unsafe after hours (although the city is providing funds to the area to improve this).