Who manages transportation in Boston & Massachusetts?



  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA): Division of MassDOT that provides subway, bus, commuter rail, ferry, and paratransit service to eastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. Largest transit system in Massachusetts.
  • Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO): Conducts the federally required metropolitan transportation planning process for the Boston metropolitan area, encompassing 97 cities and towns. Decides how to allocate federal and state transportation funds.
  • Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs): 15 RTAs provide bus, subway, and/or paratransit service in different regions of Massachusetts, including the Cape Cod RTA, Merrimack Valley RTA, Pioneer Valley RTA, Worcester RTA, and more.


Each municipality throughout Massachusetts manages the roads within their jurisdictions, with the exception of state-owned roads and highways managed by MassDOT and DCR. In these cases, municipalities and state agencies coordinate with one another. Below is a selection of municipal transportation offices in and around Boston (it is by no means comprehensive).

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From the HKS Political Buttons Collection
Button from the HKS Political Buttons Collection. White round button that reads, "Keep the buses rolling: March on Boston." Two childen (one Black, one white) are sitting next to each other on the bus. The white child is saying, "May 17th!" Button from the HKS Political Buttons Collection. White round button that reads, "Bus 'Tip' - not kids" in blue at the top, then "Vote Galotti Congress" in red in the middle and bottom. Button from the HKS Political Buttons Collection. White round button with thick black outline. In the outline in white font reads, "State representative" at the top at "Suffolk Six" at the bottom. In the middle in pink font reads, "Elaine Noble."

Between 1974 and 1988, Boston Public Schools were under court order to desegregate through a system of integration busing. Following the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education which ruled racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, many U.S. cities began busing students to schools with the goal of achieving greater racial diversity. The system was highly controversial in Boston, leading to declines in public school enrollment, white flight to Boston's suburbs, and political violence against Representative Elaine Noble who was the only white member of the Boston delegation to ride the buses.