MBTA Considers All-Night Buses to Replace Late-Night Trains

The T saved $9 million by cutting late-night service.

Photo by Olga Khvan

Photo by Olga Khvan

Late-night T service is dead. But all-night bus service could be next.

The MBTA is considering a plan that would create a new, hourly bus circuit centered in Copley Square that would run through the night, State House News Service reports. The MBTA board axed late-night pilot program last month, citing high costs and low ridership.

“I think there’s strong interest here,” MBTA Fiscal and Management Control board member Steve Poftak. Cutting late-night service generated roughly $9 million in savings for the fiscal 2017 budget.

The all-night bus plan, advocated by former Transportation Secretary Jim Aloisi, Ari Ofsevit, and Jeremy Mendelson, would be comprised of eight bus routes operated by a private vendor, with an estimated weekly ridership of about 4,600. Though preliminary MBTA analysis found that the plan would cost three to four times its $1.1-1.4 million estimate, assistant general manager Charles Planck still sees possibilities.

“This is not a complicated service for us to implement,” said Planck, who suggested a premium fare as high as $5 to float the service.

If the MBTA board approves the plan before July and decides to use its own staff, the pilot program could be implemented as early as December 31, SHNS reports.