With Pilot Program, MBTA Aims To Move Toward Overnight Bus Service

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With a bus in the background, steam pours from a manhole cover in January 2015 in Boston. (Steven Senne/AP)
With a bus in the background, steam pours from a manhole cover in January 2015 in Boston. (Steven Senne/AP)

The MBTA will test an extension of late night and early morning bus service to several low-income communities to the north of Boston, as well as city neighborhoods including Dorchester and Mattapan.

Approved at Monday's meeting of the T's Fiscal and Management Control Board, the $2 million pilot plan will bring in six new drivers to extend service into the hours after midnight.

The plan is part of the MBTA’s effort to serve low-wage workers who commute into Boston from places like Malden, Everett and Lynn, according to MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez.

"There's the people in the hospitality industry, whether they are doing restaurant work or working at the airport, and then there’s also a community of hospital and health care workers that are working in different areas as well," he said. "Those are the guys that work these long shift or night shift, and they’re needing to get home."

By being able to take a bus rather than a ride-hailing car, taxi or personal vehicle, officials say the extended service will mean roughly 60,000 late night workers can save significantly on transportation costs.

T officials say the new service, which goes into effect in September, aims to build toward an overnight network and take pressure off crowded buses on existing nighttime trips. Fares would remain the same for the pilot.

Boston's chief of streets, Chris Osgood, told WBUR the service could also allow workers to take shifts they'd otherwise be unable to work.

"It's a way to more affordably and more reliably get people get to jobs in the city of Boston," he said after the meeting. "It’s really looking at equitable access to the opportunities across our region."

The initiative stems from an earlier effort to seek bids from private firms interested in providing overnight service.

No companies responded to that request for proposals.

This segment aired on June 5, 2018.


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Simón Rios Reporter
Simón Rios is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.



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