Passengers Asked to Pitch In and Help Pay For Late-Night T Service

Future Boston is running a campaign to raise money and awareness about the later trains.

Photo by Samantha Carey

Photo by Samantha Carey

A lot of big-name companies are already going up to bat—the Globe, Dunkin’ Donuts, the Red Sox—to pitch in and help fund late-night MBTA service, which begins on March 28. But to keep the service going beyond the one-year pilot program, and passengers piling on the trains past midnight, the T is going to need some help.

Running the new after-hours service on Saturdays and Sundays will cost the MBTA roughly $16 million over the next year, and only about $1.5 million will be covered by the partnerships with corporate sponsors.

So, to help ease the expenses that the transit agency will have to dole out in order to make Boston a city with a nightlife, organizers of the group Future Boston are asking passengers to help by donating to an IndieGoGo fundraiser. “We thought, obviously, you know, this is something we have asked for from the very beginning. We thought the way we could participate to keep it going was by getting the community involved,” said Malia Lazu, founding director of Future Boston. “We are hoping that the city is going to match us. It’s been an exciting campaign for us to get the public involved from a policy standpoint.”

Future Boston is looking to raise around $35,000 to go toward helping fund the T’s pilot program, which on Thursday Mayor Marty Walsh, Governor Deval Patrick, and MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott officially kicked off. “The goal of this campaign will ensure the public is involved in the roll out and longevity of late-night T Service,” Lazu said.

Future Boston, the brainchild of clothing distributor and KarmaLoop CEO Greg Selkoe, launched in 2012. Since then, the group has worked with city officials to try and implement newer, better nightlife options for the younger residents that swarm to the city. In launching their grassroots crowd-funding effort to support T service, they will be putting in $5,000 of their own, backed by Selkoe, before turning to the community to help with the rest.

In return for their donations, those that support the fundraiser will be rewarded with perks, however. Depending on how much a person donates to the cause, they will either get clothing like t-shirts, or customized jackets. Those with deeper pockets, and $5,000 on hand, will get a chance to ride the MBTA to a private dinner with Selkoe and City Councilor Tito Jackson.

On the lower-end of the donation spectrum, people that front $100 for the campaign will be invited to VIP parties hosted nearby train stations to help raise awareness about the new service, and get people to use it. “For us, doing it this way makes more sense. It’s much more in our wheelhouse of what we do,” said Lazu. “We think that we can, from a regular people’s small dollars, have a seat at the table. We always want to sit among the people.”

Lazu said there’s another side to the campaign, as well. While raising money to keep the late-night service in motion is important, bringing attention to the new program, and keeping it packed with passengers, is also key. “We really just want to remind people that it’s there, and to use it,” said Lazu.

To do that, Future Boston is working out details with the MBTA to get performers and artists to crowd the station platforms at various T stops, giving riders something to enjoy while they wait for a train. Nothing has been finalized yet.

Since late-night trains will be running less frequently, and pulling up to core stations every 15 to 20 minutes, Lazu figured people should have something to enjoy, instead of idly standing by. “What we would love to do is, we have a lot of live artists and singers, and we thought it would be fun to get them at train stations that are busier— near Fenway Park, or South Station—to create a fun atmosphere and give people another reason to want to take the train,” she said. “Why not give people a way to have a chance to see new artists and have a little fun at the same time?”