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MBTA to Offer Later Weekend Bus Hours

Seventeen Lines to Run Until 2:30 a.m. Under Pilot Program Scheduled for Fall

By Michael J. Ring


Weekend revelers will soon have the opportunity to stay out nearly two extra hours and still catch the T home, under a pilot plan released last week by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Under the plan, the T will operate 17 bus lines until 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Currently, transit services cease at about 12:45 a.m. The T hopes to launch the trial program, expected to cost $2.5 million, on September 1.

The T said that it will extend service past the current closing times on seven existing bus lines, including the number 1 line (Harvard-Dudley), which serves the MIT campus. Additionally, the authority will operate 10 additional bus lines, radiating from downtown and running along the corridors served by the rail transit lines.

“This is a good faith effort on the part of the MBTA and the Governor’s office to respond to the calls from the community for some form of late-night public transportation,” said Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Kevin J. Sullivan in a press release.

The T said that it prefers to operate buses rather than trains during the late night service because it needs the overnight hours to perform maintenance on the rail lines, which constitute the oldest subway system in the nation.

“Our staff has designed a program that allows the MBTA to provide late night service without inhibiting other operations, including critical track maintenance work,” said MBTA General Manager Robert H. Prince, Jr. in the press release.

Student reaction positive

Students generally seem supportive of the T’s decision to extend hours on weekend nights.

“I think it’s a good idea. You can’t go to concerts and other events now after midnight because you’d miss the last train or bus,” said Aaron B. Baker G.

Bambang S. Adiwijaya G agreed that later T hours are a good idea. “I would have preferred trains, but the buses are better than nothing,” Adiwijaya said.

Poompat Saengudomlert G also supports the MBTA’s plan. “I live on campus, but it will help other people,” Saengudomlert said. He added that extended hours would help “facilitate a better social life” for students wishing to attend off-campus events.

Local politicians not satisfied

Several local political leaders who have been pushing the MBTA for later hours believe the agency must do more than the service extension proposed. These leaders want to see the new late-night service cater to late-night workers as well as nightlife patrons.

Boston City Councilor Michael Ross, an ardent supporter of extended T hours, said in the Boston Herald that the MBTA service extension “needs to be more than a party bus.”

“There’s a whole other aspect to this: the people who are working around the clock, the bakers, the construction workers, etc.,” said Ross to the Herald.

State Senator Steven Tolman (D-Boston) concurred with Ross’s opinion. “There are a lot of other groups we want to have service for, that’s why I’m not so convinced this is a real plan by the MBTA,” said Tolman to the Herald.

The T will review the ridership figures after one year of service to consider whether to continue or extend the program. “The best information will come to us in the form of actual ridership numbers,” Sullivan said in the press release.