BOSTON — Late-night service is finally returning to the MBTA.
Starting this spring, the T will operate all subway lines, the Silver Line and 15 of its most popular bus routes until 3 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, state officials announced Tuesday.
The yearlong pilot program will be financed by a $20 million grant from the state as well as corporate sponsors. The Boston Globe, which first reported the story, was the first corporate sponsor to formally sign on, with a $500,000 commitment.
“A vibrant economy demands a public transit system that caters to the residents, students and tourists it serves,” Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement. “Extending service on weekend evenings will allow the public to enjoy the many attractions and restaurants the region has to offer and give workers a more cost-effective option for getting home late at night.”
Area residents have long sought later service hours, citing the need for those with unconventional schedules to get to and from work, and that bars across Greater Boston currently stay open well past the last train.
Funding and the lack of redundant tracks, which, according to the State House News Service, “might allow the trains to continue in operation while regular maintenance is performed,” have long been obstacles.
The T experimented with late-night service in the past, launching the Night Owl bus in 2001. The program, which ran buses along train routes until 2:30 a.m., was abandoned in 2005 due to low ridership.
Transportation Secretary Richard Davey told WBUR he’s confident a late-night service program will be a success this time because it will include subways.
“At the end of the day, running bus service along the Green Line or along the Red Line was just not attractive enough for our customers,” Davey said.
Late-night fares will be the same as regular fares, but if the service is indeed successful and is extended, Davey says fares will likely rise.
There is no set date for when the service will start in the spring.
According to the state, the 15 late-night bus routes will be: 1, 15, 22, 23, 28, 32, 39, 57, 66, 71, 73, 77, 111, 116 and 117.