Earlier this week, the Boston Globe published an article calling out Mayor Tom Menino to be more vocal about the MBTA and urging his to use some of his political power to push the MBTA to make changes.
The mayor has little direct control over the situation, but few political leaders in the state have higher visibility, or as much access to the state’s political players.
I tweeted out a link to the article and directed it to Mayor Tom Meninono’s twitter account, @mayortommenino. Though the mayor doesn’t seem to have responded to the Globe or my tweet, I did see that mayoral candidate Sam Yoon was making public statements about the T situation on his twitter account, @samyoonformayor. In particular, I saw him responding to another tweeter, @skowboarder, with this message:
late nite T ridership would have to offset cost – but worth studying – T could use more $ and Boston could use more night life
A major gripe about the MBTA is that trains stop running around 12:30/12:45. It’s way too early, especially considering that many bars in Boston don’t close until 2:00AM. So, what if the MBTA offered a last call train, which would leave Park Street (for the red line and green lines) and Downtown Crossing (for the orange line) and Government Center/State Street (for the blue line) at 2:00 AM, right when Boston bars close for the night. Train service could stop earlier, say at midnight, allowing two hours for the MBTA crew to perform maintenance, and then re-open for one last set of trains at 2:00 AM. Train service would then shut down again until 5:30 AM allowing the T to perform more maintenance on the tracks.
You may remember that the T used to have night owl service that ran until 2:30 AM. Buses would travel along the major subway lines up until 2:30 AM, but the T shut it down due to low use and high cost. If the MBTA ran these last call trains, would you be willing to fork over 2-3 times the regular fare? I know I would.
The regular fare for a T pass runs between $1.70 to $2.00, depending on if you use a Charlie Card. I would more than happily pay $6.00 for a late night train from Park Street to JFK/Umass, since I’d pay more than twice that amount for a cab ride home. A train ride usually takes 15-20 minutes, about as long as it takes to flag and ride in a cab. The T could also void the monthly pass for these last call trains, so even if you have a monthly pass you’d have to fork over $4-$6 for a train home at 2AM. It’s still much cheaper than a cab, especially if you’re only riding with one other person.
A late night train or bus service would allow bar patrons and employees a safe way to get home and with an increased fare could potentially bring in additional revenues for the flailing MBTA. The increased fare would likely not meet much resistance since it would be for a service the MBTA does not currently provide. The real question is how many people would ride the late night trains. The last time the MBTA tried late night bus service it was stopped due to high costs and low usage, but in this economy many more people are using public transportation. It’s at least worth a look and might increase business for Boston bars and other nightlife venues.
Would there be enough people riding the last call train to make it worth it for the MBTA? Would you use a late night MBTA service this time around?
Thanks to B Tal for the T sign photo.