The MBTA Is Looking For Companies to Sponsor Late-Night Service

Wrap a train, post a sign, or have an announcement read while people take the T after midnight.

Photo by Alex Lau

Photo by Alex Lau

With late-night MBTA service finally arriving in the next month or so—something riders have been begging for— the transit agency is looking at different ways to help defray the costs of operating the trains after hours, which includes teaming up with corporate sponsors.

The T recently announced a tiered program offering special sponsorship deals that gives companies in and around Boston the opportunity to slap their name on transit property, and pitch in to help maintain and operate the new late-night option going forward.

Called “The Late Night Sponsorship Program,” advertisers can sign up for one of six packages, ranging from $25,000 to $500,000, that would feature their brand’s logo on either buses, trains, or digital signs and billboards at different stations. All packages will also include a weeks worth of public service announcements that will be read aloud on the trains to riders as they make trips.

“This particular packaging was posted recently as part of the ongoing process of securing sponsorships. The sponsorship program is a rolling process and the MBTA is actively pursuing late service supporters and cultivating every available opportunity. We share the public’s excitement as we continue preparations for bringing this new service to Greater Boston at the end of next month,” according to a statement from the MBTA.

Late-night service is expected to cost around $20 million annually, not accounting for offsetting fares or sponsorships, according to T officials. In order to keep the post-midnight rides running beyond the planned one-year pilot program, it will require riders to consistently utilize public transportation while the T works on forging special partnerships with local business and organizations.

The six packages that advertisers can choose between offer a variety of display options based on price, and range from “Steel” to “Platinum,” according to the request for proposals.

Below is a glimpse of what each package offers:


Of course, there are restrictions on the types of messages that can be displayed. According to the criteria, the signs will include a picture of the city skyline, along with a promotional message boasting the T’s new service. That message will be accompanied by a various of the phrases, “MBTA Late Night Service sponsored by…” or, “MBTA Late Night Service brought to you by…,” followed by a prospective businesses name.

Businesses that specialize in things like adult content, push political party messages, or products like guns, alcohol, or tobacco won’t be considered as part of the partnership program.

The MBTA first announced its plan to form partnerships with advertisers three months ago, when news about the after hours service was first unveiled. At that time, the T said the Boston Globe had already signed on as the first official sponsor by opting into a “Platinum” advertising package. That package, which came with a price tag of $500,000, potentially gives the publication one-month of in-station digital advertising, six months of bus shelter advertising, website ad space, a train car wrap for six months, and two bus wraps for up to a year.