By John Lynds
East Boston State Representative Adrian Madaro wanted to see just how expensive it would be for his constituents who rely on MBTA late night service once it is cancelled by the T.
With hundreds of Eastie residents working late night shifts at Boston bars, restaurants and hotels downtown, Madaro decided to take the Blue Line into Boston and then use several other modes of transportation to get back to Eastie–the same modes workers will be forced to use once late night service is cancelled. Madaro compared the expense of riding the MBTA to these other forms of transportation like a traditional taxi and the ride share services Lyft.
What Madaro found was sobering.
The taxi back to Eastie from town cost and average of $20.20 including a 15 percent tip. The ride share service Lyft was a bit cheaper at $16.49 per trip with tip. The Blue Line was far, far cheaper at only $2.65 per trip.
Madaro then found a worker making minimum wage would have to work 2 hours and 2 minutes for one night travel to recoup the cost of taking a taxi home. The same worker would have to work 1 hour and 39 minutes to recoup the cost of taking a Lyft home each night.
However, Madaro found that same worker would only need to work 16 minutes to recoup the cost of an MBTA Blue Line ride each night.
On Tuesday, Madaro sent a letter to the Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack sharing his findings and urging her to reconsider the cancellation of late night MBTA service.
“I write to you regarding a great concern I share with my constituents – the cuts to late night MBTA service,” wrote Madaro. “Please reflect on how your life would change if nearly 20 percent of your pretax income was spent commuting home from work. What sacrifices would you be forced to make?”
Madaro wrote that for many constituents in his district, this is not just a thought exercise but a harsh reality.
“Thousands of Boston residents are employed in professions that can require them to work during nontraditional hours, including over 19.3 percent who work in health care and social services, and 9.5 percent who service the hospitality industry,” he wrote. “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.”
These concerns are amplified for residents of Eastie 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,” wrote Madaro. “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. In short, eliminating late-night access to the MBTA is not just a matter of convenience – it is a threat to transportation equity.”
Madaro, using his own findings from his experiment early this month, added that a constituent earning minimum wage and relying on this measure of transportation five nights per week would spend over 18 percent of their pretax income commuting home from work.
“As staggering as these numbers are, what impacted me the most about my own thought exercise was my trip home via MBTA. In the mere 24 minutes and 31 seconds it took me to travel home from downtown Boston, I observed and, in some cases, spoke with my fellow riders,” Madaro wrote. “They 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. They were health care aides, servers, 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.”
In the end Madaro said eliminating late-night MBTA service is a regressive measure that will disproportionately impact members of his community that need our help the most.
“Now that you have taken a moment to consider how your life would change given the constraints outlined above, think about how your actions will change the lives of others,” he wrote. “I invite you to join me for a late night taxi trip to try it first hand.”