MBTA starts survey to look at overnight bus service

The T wants to hear from people who might use a bus between 1 and 5 a.m.

TransitMatters, a Boston-based non-profit organization, last April proposed a seven-day a week, bus service operating from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board, which voted to end weekend bus service in March 2016, authorized staff to work with TransitMatters to further develop their concept. At its September 26, 2016 meeting, the FMCB authorized this survey to help gauge public overnight travel needs. The results will be reported to the FMCB in January 2017.

Take the survey.

If the T decides there's enough interest and it can scrounge up enough spare change, it will then consider a proposal from Bridj to run the buses. Bridj says it can do so at a lower cost than it would cost the T to run it.



Free tagging: 


Yes Please!

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I used to live in NYC and being able to take the subway anytime was amazing. I know that Boston is a city that sleeps, but it's a bummer to have to end my nights early cuz I have get the train home.

And yes, I'm aware Uber exists, but unfortunately it's out of my price range.

It's cute when

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the T says it "wants to hear from people" or needs "input from the community."
At least they try to LOOK like they care.
Good for them.....

We want to hear from you!

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...no. not you...we meant those people over there. the ones who told us to do a survey that will justify giving a nighttime bus contract to Bridj. Yeah. We want to hear what those you's have to say.


I feel like this is the third time I'm filling out this form from the T, I think it was last year when they asked people about getting input. Can we get some info on how people responded to the last one?

If the MBTA doesn't already

If the MBTA doesn't already know that there is a lot of public interest in late night service at this point, then I don't know what to tell them.

ahh mi amigo

you forget about all the people in springfield and the berkshires that get very mad at public transit in boston/area

Then they should fund

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their own schools, roads, water, sewer, police, fire, and all other public services with ONLY the money they generate with their own local taxes (property, sales, etc). Let Boston fund itself too. We'd have a lot more cash for these projects if all taxes weren't pooled into the state fund and redistributed to the cities/towns. Boston is the economic heart of not only MA, but basically all of New England. Getting people in and out of it efficiently benefits the entire region. My office in Charlestown is about 60/40 split MA residents and out of state residents. Springfield and the Berkshires can crumble for all I care, right back at them. They contribute little to the economic health of the region, although Springfield is a great place to buy cheap narcotics.

As a Springfield native

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You're giving them wayy too much credit.

Most people in Springfield can't understand that the Boston metro areas pay for most of their services.

I am feeling some whiplash,

I am feeling some whiplash, didn't we just get late night service followed by cutting of the service?

People won't use the service unless it becomes dependable for a couple years. MBTA management seems to think that they can just offer a service for 3 months and then pull it when it isn't an instant success. When in the real world people take several months to adjust to changes and find out about options. If they made a guarantee that something would last for 3 years that late night workers who rent would consider moving closer to those routes, some wouldn't buy that new car etc. Some people would take jobs they normally would have to reject. They are not going to do that for a 3 month vanity project at the MBTA.

Train service was too

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Train service was too expensive. Buses failed before because of OT and odd routes making it too expensive and poorly used. This go around with Bridj following the main subway routes and circumventing the OT issue might allow late night service to work. The MBTA is at least trying to get something which works and isn't a budget buster.


People won't use the service unless it becomes dependable for a couple years. MBTA management seems to think that they can just offer a service for 3 months and then pull it when it isn't an instant success.

Infrequent service is almost the same as no service at all. A bus every hour or 90 minutes will help some people but most will figure that to wait an hour for a bus which might not come isn't a feasible choice. So the bus usage will be low and they cancel the service again.

It's the same with the commuter rail. People will use frequent, reliable options but needing to wait hours for a train and no late evening or early morning service is the same as no service at all.

This has been the T's overall problem

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...going on decades. Instant gratification doesn't just apply to toddlers and millennials. The T has a real problem seeing itself "possibly fail" in any sort of project. What they fail to see is by doing that they have just been failing miserably year after year. I see why they want to privatize the damn thing as it is already run like a short-sighted privately held company dancing for its stockholders. "Just gotta look good on those Q2 earnings maaaannn" I can almost hear Daniel Grabauskas muttering while tossing in his sleep 10-15 years ago (whenever he oversaw and publicly denied the fare raise/service decline).
The state and the MBTA need to bite the bullet and lose money on this thing we call public transit for a number of years. Heavy investment without the promise of any return is what it is going to take to give us a world class transit system. That is the bottom line. I see so much untapped potential in the T and have since I moved to Boston in 1999 that it makes my head spin that there is no political will to get the beating heart of our entire region's economy beating harder and more consistently.
Before even CONSIDERING expanding the T beyond this disastrous green line extension, the T needs to invest heavily in repairing tracks, updating signals, repairing/refurbishing it's stations, managing its property holdings, investing in renewable energy sources (Seriously how there isn't solar panels covering every rooftop the T owns is beyond me, the system runs on electricity no? Like renewable sources will never go to waste on such a system). I saw someone from the T posted here on Uhub (different story) that they were in danger of losing millions of dollars gifted to them for projects simply because they cannot meet a deadline for submitting the proposals for said project. Really? The amount of incompetence is baffling.
They need to realize that there are hordes of people like me, who WOULD take the T everyday ( Can go from home to work via train with no more than a 5 minute walk from each station) if it offered even a semblance of reliability. I'm sorry but my boss would not tolerate being late/ extremely late for work the number of times the T would do that to me during the course of the year (I live on the Red Line). I need to get to work every day on time. Even with erratic traffic patterns and snowstorms I still am able to make that happen with a car. I would love nothing more than to leave my car at home every day, making driving a treat and saving the gas money, not to mention leaving pounds of stress behind. However it simply isn't feasible with the inconsistency and extended time it takes to travel on the T. I know I am not alone on this.
As a side note my car I use to commute is 47 years old this year, still more reliable than the T, sorta like that PCC trolley that still runs.....

Time out.

I like the idea of an overnight option, but loathe the idea of privatizing the service. Sounds like the MBTA is considering the Bridj proposal as the one and only option. And that's only if potential riders beg and plead enough to warrant ANY service, of course.

What about the really interesting plan floated in CommonWealth magazine a couple of months back? Why is THAT not an option?

The Bridj proposal is a non

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The Bridj proposal is a non-starter. If the T even attempted to go that route it'd get shut down quickly, considering that it is not ADA-accessible (unless you call in advance). Any publicly-funded service would have to provide equal accessibility to all, on every trip, which would require a fleet of ADA-accessible vehicles.

There's also the issue of accepting CharlieCards. The T has already stated that if they contract out the service to Bridj, all payment will be through the Bridj app, and CharlieCards will NOT be accepted. I feel like this would also run into accessibility issues, for a public transit service to require all customers to have a smartphone, and it also makes the service inherently less useful to customers, who might be traveling on the T one way and a late-night Bridj the other way. I'm sure they'd be none-too-happy at not having their pass work for half the trips, and I'm sure there would be a lot of confused occasional riders who don't realize you can't use a CharlieCard.

It's all just talk, I wouldn't actually be concerned about them contracting late-night service to Bridj - there's just too many problems with the idea.

Serious question

Are they shitting me?

ffs - use the last questionnaire. It's a year later; nothing's change.

Note to nay-sayers

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There are a lot of well-deserved comments here saying things like "again" and "please, we did this already." I get it. The T effed up the first iteration of Late Night (by providing a convoluted, slow system) and the second (by not establishing any metrics, so even though it was well used, it was easy to cut). This time, hopefully, will be different.

Having worked on this from the outside, and then the inside, this actually has some legs. Rather than an internal proposal (see Night Owl) or a political ploy with no metrics (see late night trains) this is actually being considered with data and metrics and has a broad constituency which wants to make it work. The process has been led by the T, by advocacy groups, and by various cities and towns (Boston, especially) as well as business groups. The idea is to make something which is focused on access to jobs, which runs all night, every night, and which is scalable and financially attainable.

Previous iterations of late night service have been lipstick on a pig: of the ~40 hours per week with no transit service, only 4 were accounted for. Nearly every other major city in the country has some form of all-night service (the outliers: Houston and Atlanta). The idea here is to bring Boston at least in to the early 20th century. But we need to know how best to implement it.

So, how do you travel late at night? Do you ever catch a 6 a.m. plane to the airport and want to save cab/Uber/Lyft fare? Do you sometimes stay out until 1 and want to have a bus home? Do you work a late shift, or an early shift, that the T doesn't serve? If so, fill this out, so that we can design a pilot program which works, but which, more importantly, has specific evaluation metrics so that it won't just be cut off at the knees like the previous iteration of late night service.

It should only take a few minutes. And, thanks.

You want to stay out late in

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You want to stay out late in cool for the moment bars and drink inflated priced craft beer , call your internet wonder uber and pay your own way. Stop camouflaging the argument by using the needs of poor people that have to make their way to employment at off hours. Not every place is serviced by public transportation.

*slow clap*

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Well, I gotta hand it to you, buddy, you won today's "most tone-deaf comment on UHub" award, and it was against some pretty fierce competition.

Who exactly do you think is staffing those Dunkin Donuts you stop at on your way to work? Or the graveyard shifts at the 24-hour CVS, or the reception staff at the ER? The world does not run on a 9-5 schedule, fella. It's nice that you're privileged enough to work banker's hours, but it's the height of hubris to assume that late-night public transportation is solely for the benefit of craft-beer-drinking (also: really? 2013 called, it wants its tired cliches back) barflies. If you want a functioning city, you need to be able to get people in and out of it 24/7, even if the bars close at 1AM. And the guy making $10/hour mopping floors sure as hell isn't taking a $30 Uber to get home in the small hours of the morning.

Boy are you off base. I never

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Boy are you off base. I never worked a 9 to 5 job. I have worked when most people are sleeping , waking up , or going to sleep. The dreaded privarte sector, be productive of be gone. You can fool some of the people some of the time, It,s all about the late night drinking,


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I used to work at one of the local YMCAs that opens at 5 am. We hired mostly college kids, and had to only hire people who lived walking distance, owned a bike, or were willing to pay an hour's wage for garage parking, to open the facility because the T would not get them in by 4:40 am to open on time.

And woe betide the poor lifeguard who did not have the pool open at 5 am sharp according to the swimmer's wristwatch- not the clock on the wall- because they would be pounding on the door and screaming at the kid for being a lazy layabout who overslept.

We had one (excellent) young lady forget this until she arrived at the T stop and found the headhouse locked. She nearly got fired and had to spend the next few days sleeping on the floor of a friend's dorm room to be at work on time.


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Oh, your post brought back memories. The Y is such a cheap, crappy organization. Hiring, I made a point to make sure that the opening and closing staff were local, so they could walk if needed. But even then, two miles in the the snow is not fun. There were times when weather meant that the T was not running, or maybe someone was sick and couldn't make it. So the staffer needed to take a cab, and when this joke shop was asked to reimburse for fare, it was no. I figured a way around it, but seriously, fuck the Y.

As someone who used to enjoy

As someone who used to enjoy late night drinking I do not see the problem with that being one of the reasons for this... it increases spending at bars/restaurants which creates jobs. It also makes the "don't drink and drive" push much easier since there is an alternative available to , um not drinking and driving for people of a certain age.

As someone who grew up with parents with very weird hours and did not have a ton of money I remember the chaos that would unfold when there was not a car available to get to the shift they needed to get to late at night or early in the morning. They never bothered to even try using the MBTA because the hours never worked for them.

As someone who knows many low income workers who have turned down jobs because they had no way of getting to them I can imagine late night early morning service would be most welcome...

All I want, is to be able to

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All I want, is to be able to make it to Logan, for a 7am flight, via public transit from Roslindale. You'd think making the first flights out of the city's airport from somewhere in the city wouldn't be a massive damn problem, but no, it is.


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I'm booked on a 7am flight on Friday morning, and have to use a non-MBTA method to get to the airport.

And before you ask, no, I don't like taxis.

Have you tried planning this

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Have you tried planning this trip? You can take a bus to the first Orange to the first Blue or Silver, and arrive around 6 am.

Or if you want to get creative and get there even earlier, there's a special early-morning 39 bus which starts in Hyde Park, passes through Rozzie Square, and continues to Haymarket, where you *might* catch the special 117 which gets to the airport around 5:30.

Which is still cutting it

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Which is still cutting it uncomfortably close.

There are a surprising number of flights that leave Logan around 7 am. I've waited in the security line for 90 minutes before at that time of morning, and my bf has missed an early morning flight because the line was so long. Security at Logan is so unpredictable that an hour before your flight often doesn't cut it anymore. Plus you ideally want to have a bit of padding built-in to reduce stress.

Also, there are flights as early as 5 am.

Flawed Survey

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I took the survey and indicated a desire for such service, however the survey itself is highly flawed.

While we may assume (??) that this targets a savvy user public attached to the on-line medium, there is a segment of the public that isnot attached by PC, Mac, or smart phone. The survey specifically targets that audience.

I have looked at all fo the press on this and so far I have yet to see where non-Internet people can indicate their interests by phone, or in writing. Usually there is a way for people to participate by writing to the main office of MassDOT (or elsewhere) to send in written responses.

However, this survey only appears on line.

Where is the TTD/TTY version as well?

So to coin a popular phrase, "this is rigged."

Has anyone else noticed that since MassDOT was formed and the MBTA came under it that we see more and more of this kind of thing being rammed down people's collective throats?

Consider the so-called 28X bus service. MassDOT created a plan for a BRT down Blue Hill Ave, called it "shovel ready" then got fed funds and purchased a bunch of articulated long buses to populate the service. Of course, there had been no public engagement up to that point. When the meetings started they were poorly advertised, at times when people could not attend, and included plans that had no public input.

Once enough people complained and elected officials at the state and city level got involved, the PUBLIC killed the plan. Since then they have been trying to make the extra-long buses more efficient by eliminating and moving bus stops. Where? To places that equated with planned bus stops when it would have been a BRT reservation down the middle of Blue Hill Ave. I guess if you can't ram it one way, you try another.

SO... flawed survey. Read between the lines here. They may not have your best interests in hand.


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This survey needs to be promoted to late-night workers. There is a need. Would employers be willing to let their staff know about it? The problem is that, in my experience, people who work these hours are, well, tired, and focused on getting home, getting some sleep and getting up the next day. Not the highest-voting bloc, either, but with a push people would respond. It is something we talk about, and I found that the last iteration got more talk when it was canceled than when it ended.