MBTA cancels late-night service

T official says program impeded efforts to repair tracks

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

AFTER NO DISCUSSION at Monday’s public meeting, the MBTA control board canceled extended-hours weekend service, authorizing the transit agency to terminate it by March 19.

MBTA Assistant General Manager Charles Planck told the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board that the extended hours, which began as a pilot in March 2014, impede efforts to repair tracks overnight.

Planck said the late-night weekend service on subway lines and major bus routes has had declining popularity, with roughly 13,000 rides taken per night. He said removing late-night service from the fiscal 2017 budget resulted in $9 million in savings.

After Planck’s presentation, MBTA Control Board Chairman Joseph Aiello offered a motion authorizing termination of the service, which was passed without any discussion.

Supporters of late-night service say it’s beneficial to restaurants, bars, and others involved in cultivating extended-hours commerce, as well as workers in a variety of industries.

On his monthly “Ask the Governor” radio segment, Gov. Charlie Baker, who oversees the MBTA, said earlier this month that the late-night service model tried by the MBTA is “not the answer.”

“Keep in mind first of all that late night is 90 minutes on Friday night and 90 minutes on Saturday night. It has very, very low ridership and it’s hugely expensive to operate,” the governor said.

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Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

Asked about a potential alternative model, Baker said, “That’s the conversation we probably ought to have.” He said, “I have my own ideas. Well, we’ll share them with you at some point. But a lot of other people have ideas about this too, not just me.”

Michael Norton contributed reporting to this story.