Late-night T service starts strong
Fate of pilot program in the hands of after-hours passengers
The MBTA’s extended late night hours of service, which began March 28, mean that the T and certain bus routes will now run for nearly 90 minutes longer on Friday and Saturday nights. The final trains from downtown stations will leave at about 2:30 a.m. during extended hours, according to the MBTA’s website.
According to the Boston Globe, 18,000 people used the T during the approximate times of the extended hours during the first two nights of the program.
The additional service is part of a yearlong pilot program whose continuation beyond next March will likely depend on the number of passengers who use the services during the later hours. The MBTA had previously introduced late-night buses in the Night Owl program, but average nightly ridership declined from about 2,000 people at its start in 2001 to 655 in 2005, after which it was no longer offered, the Boston Globe reported.
The extension affects 15 key bus routes and the Red, Orange, Green, Blue, Mattapan, and most of the Silver Lines according to the MBTA’s website. The RIDE service for disabled passengers will also operate later.
According to the MBTA, the program will cost approximately $16 million, although sponshorships from private organizations like the Red Sox, Dunkin’ Donuts, and the Boston Globe will cover $1.5 million of the cost. Nevertheless, the Globe’s reporting indicates that MBTA officials still expect the extended service to be a net loss.
During the extended hours of the first two nights of the program, the Red Line was the most heavily used line at non-transfer stations with over 4,600 riders, followed by the Green Line with over 4,400, the Globe reported. About 2,000 passengers used the Park Street station over the weekend.
According to the Globe, MBTA General Manager Beverly A. Scott said considerations such as effects on local businesses combined with ridership numbers would be part of future decisions as to whether to continue the late night service beyond the pilot program.
According to an MBTA press release, “Late night service will also allow Boston employers to be better suited for recruiting in the technology sector in places like the Innovation District or Kendall Square, with the hope to attract and maintain top talent looking to not only build their careers, but enjoy the social lives they’ve built here as well.”
The press release also suggested the late hours would help service industry workers commute more cheaply and attract young professionals by making the city’s “nighttime attractions” more accessible.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo told WGBH that the first weekend of the extended service resulted in no arrests or breakdowns.