MBTA to Test Late-Night Bus Service

Back in 2017 Rep. Adrian Madaro testified at the MBTA Fiscal Control and Management Board on the MBTA’s late-night service that fell victim to a $9 million budget cut, but remains essential to many hard-working East Boston commuters that rely on late night service to get to and from jobs downtown.

“This is of paramount concern to my community – with no late night T service, how do East Boston residents commute home? The barriers of bridges, tunnels, and the Boston Harbor make affordable transportation home impossible for late night commuters,” Madaro said at the hearing.

Madaro said without a late night public transportation option, his constituents must spend nearly 20 percent of their pretax income just to get home from work.

Over the past several months, Madaro continues to be a fierce advocate for late-night MBTA service to Eastie and has argued eliminating late-night MBTA service for minimum wage workers in Eastie was an undue hardship–making this issue truly one of equity.

Madaro in an effort to develop a firsthand understanding of the financial impact that this quandary places on families and minimum wage workers, he tested and retested all options available to his constituents during the last few days of the T’s late-night service.

“A commute that costs only $2.75 on the MBTA costs over $20.20 via taxi and $16.49 via Lyft,” said Madaro. “A constituent earning minimum wage and relying on this measure of transportation five nights per week would spend roughly 18 percent of their pretax income commuting home from work without late night services.”

This week the MBTA’s General Manager Luis Ramirez announced that in September the T would launch a $1.2 million pilot program to schedule more early morning and late-night bus trips to places north of downtown like Eastie, Chelsea, Revere and Malden as well neighborhoods in the southern part of the city like Dorchester and Mattapan.

Ramirez said the expansion of late-night bus service would target riders that work in the hospitality and medical fields that work odd shifts outside the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday.

The fare would be the same for late-night and early-morning service during the pilot program. The $1.2 million being spent will be used to hire six more bus drivers and add roughly 282 new bus trips per week, according to the MBTA.

In his research on the issue and riding late-night T service before it was cut, Madaro found riders were not college-aged students who hopped on the T after a bar crawl, and they were not upper middle class residents returning home after a night on the town.

“They were Bostonians – members of our community, wearily commuting home after working late into the night,” he said. “They were healthcare aides, servers, bartenders, janitors, and chefs to name a few.  They were trying to provide for their families. They were trying to build a better future for themselves. And – as many of us feel after a long day at work – they were looking forward to the comforts of home.”

As for the pilot program, Madaro said while it is not an around-the-clock, 24-hour service it is close to that and a step in the right direction.

“”For almost 30 percent of Bostonians, being able to traverse the city from corner to corner in a reliable, affordable manner is necessary for job stability, economic security, and sustaining a high quality of life,” said Madaro. “These concerns are amplified for residents of my district who cannot afford or rely on regular access to a car. East Boston residents who work in any other neighborhood of Boston are unable to bike or walk through the Sumner or Ted Williams Tunnels when the T is out of service.  Nor can they swim home across the harbor. When my constituents cannot get home after work via public transportation, they are forced to rely on expensive, luxury transportation methods like taxis or livery services to get where they need to go. Restoring late-night MBTA service to the community is not just a matter of convenience – it is a matter of transportation equity.”

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