Many day students at Concord Academy take the train at least one way to school every day. However, navigating the Commuter Rail can be challenging and confusing at first, especially for those not familiar with Boston public transit.
The Commuter Rail line that stops in Concord is called the Fitchburg Line, named after the city where the last stop used to be. In 2016, the line was extended to Wachusett. On weekdays, an outbound train stops in Concord once every hour at ten minutes past the hour while an inbound train stops at a quarter past. Going to school in the morning, most students ride an outbound train, which they primarily board between North Station and Kendal Green.
Most days, CA students fill up an entire compartment. There are often 20 to 30 students who ride together from a variety of origin stops to downtown Concord, where it is only a five-minute walk to school.
For the early start times, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, in the 2021-2022 schedule, students usually rode Train 405, which arrives in Concord at 8:10. On late start days, Tuesdays and Thursdays, students also had the option of taking Train 407, which arrives at 9:10 instead. However, Chapel’s start times on late days was at 9:20, while it was at 8:30 on early days. Though this ten-minute difference may seem unimportant, those who elected to ride the 407 often found themselves rushed to get to school and possibly late to chapel, as the train frequently runs at least a few minutes behind schedule. It is important to note, however, that lateness to chapel or announcements due to the train is considered an excused tardiness. It appears that the academic schedule for the 2022-2023 school year maintains the same start times as the year prior, so while the 407 remains a viable option, it will still leave students occasionally crunched for time.
Although usually quite reliable, the train occasionally runs into issues, especially during the winter or after a large storm. Often, this means that the train will simply be delayed, but sometimes stops will be skipped or boarding will take place on the opposite side of the track. On rare occasions, trains will terminate their routes early, forgoing stops altogether, though this only happens in the case of major emergencies. It is important to develop a plan on what to do if the train you are waiting for is really late or never arrives at all. This could be something as simple as calling an Uber or Lyft, or getting a ride from a friend. Fortunately, all relevant train information can be found on the MBTA website under the “Fitchburg Line” tab.
CA offers students the option to purchase a Student CharlieCard, which can be used to pay the train fare. This is a monthly pass, but for students who do not ride to and from school every day, it can be uneconomical to pay for. Most conductors allow all CA students, regardless of whether they have a Student CharlieCard, to pay the student discount price of approximately $2.00 a ride, depending on the origin stop. Students are able to pay their fares with either cash or a credit card, or pre-purchase a ticket on the MBTA app, which can be activated once on the train. CharlieCard or not, it is always worth having a few dollars on hand, whether for the train fare or for a coffee on the way to school.
Although taking the commuter rail to school might seem intimidating at first, after just a few rides to and from school and meeting others who have the same commute, it will become second nature. The train ride is a great time to listen to music, chat with friends, and work on homework that does not require internet connection.