If lawmakers take the bait and decide to implement Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed transportation plan, pumping $1 billion into the state annually through higher taxes and fare hikes, bar crawlers could find themselves skipping the cab rides home, and using the MBTA until 2 a.m. on weekends.
“The MBTA is investigating providing service beyond our current 1 a.m. schedule on a pilot basis where there is ridership demand,” according to a statement from MassDOT officials. “If additional operating funds are identified, major bus routes and the most heavily traveled portions of the subway and light rail systems will be considered for extra service.”
The pilot program would be in response to the state-wide “Your Vision, Our Future” public meetings with riders, calling for extended hours, and could happen only with adequate funding through Patrick and MassDOT’s recent transportation reform proposal.
Officials said on Tuesday that the cost of service will be determined once operating schedules and frequencies are identified.
Costs associated with offering additional service hours on the T include vehicle fuel, power, operator hours, supervision, custodial hours, station and parking area lighting and additional customer service ambassador and MBTA Transit Police “to ensure passenger safety,” according to MassDOT.
The idea of implementing late night service and extended T hours is something State Rep. Sean Garballey has had on his agenda since the last legislative session.
“I always believed that late night service, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, can be done…because it’s done in other states. I think that certainly, as we go into this legislative session, we should start having the conversation about modernizing the transportation system,” Garballey, Chairman of the House MBTA Caucus, told BostInno.
Garballey said providing later transportation services would bolster local business, giving patrons more time in the city without having to rush to the last trains around 12:30 or 1 a.m.
“I’m hoping that as we talk about our long term plans to fix the MBTA, fix transportation and how it will benefit the entire Commonwealth, that in that conversation we talk about late night service,” he said.
Last year, MassDOT CEO Rich Davey said there was “zero” chance of this happening, due to the impending service cuts and fare hike needed to sustain the MBTA.
Transportation officials also said that late-night hours weren’t plausible because the T does most of its work after hours—they even released a documentary about it.
But with the new proposal on the tracks, if passed, additional revenue could be dedicated to the later services and system upgrades, letting riders hop on the train home after last call.
A MassDOT spokesperson told BostInno that if the T does look into extending hours beyond 1 a.m., they will ensure “that any additional scheduled service does not reduce the ability to perform track, vehicle and station maintenance functions which are currently conducted during off hours.”