Lyft and Uber to Offer Discounts as MBTA Late Night Service Ends

The ride hailing companies are offering huge deals to entice disgruntled MBTA customers.

Photo by Olga Khvan

Photo by Olga Khvan

The end of MBTA late night service has prompted two ride hailing companies to step up and offer potential passengers steep discounts as they adjust to life in Boston without the service.

Beginning during the final weekend of the MBTA’s highly touted late night service, users of Lyft and Uber will be the beneficiaries of a price war of sorts between the two companies.

Users of Uber’s carpooling service, Uberpool, will pay a flat rate of $5 for trips between 12:30-2 a.m. on March 19 through April 9. The $5 rate will only apply to trips along routes that were part of the MBTA’s late night service areas. The $5 flat rate does not apply to Uber’s other services, like UberX.

“We know the end of late-night MBTA service will effect many people and we wanted to help ease that transition once that service ends and help people get where they need to go safely and affordably late on weekend nights,” said Uber Boston General Manager Chris Taylor in a statement.

Lyft is offering users of its Lyft Line carpooling service discounts of up to 75 percent during the hours of 12:30-4a.m. on March 18 for most areas of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, and other inner suburbs. Beginning March 19, all Lyft Line rides in the same service area will be discounted 45-55 percent. Lyft did not provide an end date for the promotion.

Services like Lyft and Uber are seen by many transportation advocates and planners as key to covering the last/first mile for many public transit riders. The MBTA has hinted at partnering with the ride hailing companies as well as the on-demand bus service Bridj to help cover gaps in the agency’s coverage areas.

The MBTA’s board voted last month to end the service after determining that it was costing the cash-strapped agency too much. This is the second time the MBTA has attempted to offer late night service in recent years. An earlier incarnation of late night service known as The Night Owl ran from 2001-2005. It, too, was canceled because of cost concerns.

The MBTA’s move to cancel late night service is drawing fire from federal officials due to concerns about possible civil rights violations.