The MBTA Will Run After The Bars Close In 2014

Starting in the spring, the T will run trains until 3 a.m. on the weekends.

MBTA Photo Uploaded by BostonCityWalk on Flickr

MBTA Photo Uploaded by BostonCityWalk on Flickr

Christmas has come early for MBTA riders.

Starting in spring 2014, trains and select buses run until 3 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays as part of a pilot program, thanks to money from the state budget and partnerships with select corporate sponsors.

Right now, the MBTA stops running at 1 a.m.

Late Monday night the Globe, “one of the potential” sponsors from the private sector that may foot some of the bill to bring late-night service to the masses, reported that Governor Deval Patrick announced the one-year pilot plan. The program is in response to feedback received from members of the public and the business community encouraging the MBTA to offer late-night service as a way to boost the region’s economy.

“Is this cool or what?” Patrick told the Globe. “This is about how we make the system modern for the kind of economic growth we have been experiencing and will be experiencing.”

Another $20 million will be fronted by the state to make the limited service happen. Patrick said he hopes other sponsors will chip in to make the project a success.

The weekend service extension will include access to the Red, Green, Orange, Blue, and Silver Lines, as well as 15 of the most frequented bus routes in the system.

The price to ride the T will remain the same as regular daytime hours, but if the service becomes a permanent investment, after the pilot test, the T would consider increasing the price for the weekend service to help pay the costs to keep it running the extra two hours.

The late-night service will likely benefit people staying at the bars until they close at 2 a.m.—a complaint often heard when conversations about how to make Boston a more livable city—and the workers who have to close down the establishments shortly after, so they don’t have to rely on taking a cab to get home.

“Late-night service is an idea whose time has come,” said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. “As Boston continues to grow and develop into an even more vibrant city, we are pleased to announce this pilot program that will help us address Boston’s evolving transportation needs.”

In March, an overwhelming number of T riders participated in a survey conducted by the MBTA Ridership Committee, which asked if people wanted the late-night option. The MBTA expected about 500 responses to their survey and instead received about 26,000, most of them saying they’d be willing to wait longer and pay more for buses and trains at night.

The MBTA tried its luck at late night service in 2001 by introducing The Night Owl buses, but due to a lack of ridership and the cost to keep the late-night option going, the transit agency pulled out of the project.