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MBTA could cut late-night weekend service

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   Now that it shuts down so early, it's no longer practical to use — it was nice while it lasted.

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The best part of all of this is that the full late night service cost a huge, whopping $14.4 million to run. Can we seriously not even get a few big schools and large corporations to chip a few pennies to fund this ?

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Unfortunately that doesn't help give their campuses impressive new buildings to show off to new prospective students with.

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It's not the shiny new buildings you see on tours of colleges but the cafeterias. I think on our recent tours we spent way more time being shepherded around the sushi bars and all-you-can eat buffets of food lovingly prepared on individual chef's stations than of classrooms.

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There's no need to build more shiny cafeteria buildings, we can just take a cue from Emerson and gut old theaters for that.

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While we destroy businesses and a really cool alley street scale for sterilized dorms

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I'm curious where $14M comes from. Stations are unattended. Trainsets have single operators now. I can't imagine running trains for an extra 1.5 hours really costs that much. (even with the few bus routes thrown in)...

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The cost comes from the audiophile quality intercom system.

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The bars!

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Could they look into funding this by a surcharge on liquor licenses in the T-served areas of the state?

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$14.4M is the equivalent of what, a couple hundred meters of new third rail?

Yeah, the MBTA will be solvent any day now by cutting this service...

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The late night service is once again succeeding at the T's top goal for it: complete failure.

The T does nothing to promote the service, then scraps it when consumers don't magically appear. Would this work in the business world? Hell no. And the MBTA management can't have it both ways: reaping the good press when the service gets announced, then quietly sweeping it under the rug to try and balance the budget.

It's interesting to see how other cities/metros of roughly the same size handle late night service. I went to Montreal last summer, and half the buses had the all-night STM map plastered on the back. DC provides the model for the late night T service, and everyone there uses the service there because they know about it! Even Philly can run successful 24-hour bus and streetcar service to serve hospital and airport employees.

Last winter proved the T's "maintenance" excuse to be complete bullshit. How does NY run 24 hours and still maintain the system? Answer: they run single-track on key parts of each line overnight, as needed. For example, on alternating Mondays, the 7 runs on one track between Queens and Manhattan so that tunnel maintenance can be carried out. What really does happen on the T lines overnight?

On Boston's relatively short lines -- the Orange line takes 32 to minutes to run from end to end -- one trainset could ping-pong back and forth on one track and provide 24-hour service.

But the T pretends this is impossible. And the rank-and-file employees have been speaking about "rumors that they're trying to kill the Night Owl" ever since the new late night service started.

I don't think this will change until the T has a real budget and real leadership. It's a shame -- the T holds Boston back almost as much as it propels the city forward.

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you say that years of corrupt hiring, sweetheart contracts, and questionable legislation (ahem! Pacheco! ahem!) are coming home to roost? Inconceivable! Clearly the answer is more of the same! More blank checks! More political stunts! More giveaways to big business and big labor!

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Is the MBTA statement that they were hoping for corporations and schools to underwrite the costs and that funding failed to materialize just a figment?

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The MBTA doesn't like late night service because it means more work for them. They never put in a real effort to make it succeed so of course they want to kill it off so soon.
Oh well. Back to drunk driving, pollution, and late night workers getting screwed over because the MBTA can't properly do their jobs.

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This is like the Night Owl all over again. When the Night Owl was running I was informed of it's existence by a neighbor who worked for the T. She knew it was a service I could use. I said to her I was surprised I didn't already know about it. She said "they (the T) don't want you to know about it". They wanted it to quietly fade away.

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The only reason I knew about it was that there was a website at the time that kept watch on the MBTA, that announced it, and I think some of the bus stops had their signs modified to mention it.

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NYC runs 24/7 because they have a four track (express/local) setup, not because they single track everything. Without this setup, 24 hour service is impractical and a pipe dream.

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Not all NY subway lines are four-tracked. The entire L is two tracks; the R south of 59th in Brooklyn; and all the river tunnels are two-tracked.

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And not all lines run 24/7, and many lines shut down every other weekend in one direction for work (see the F line among others), or shutdown entirely overnight for work. NYC gets away with it because of the majority 4 track system, and that when the take entire lines down for maintenance on late nights/weekends there are a lot of redundant lines people can take instead. The T has none of these things.

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Philly runs its Green Line (which is pretty similar to ours) all night in a 2-track tunnel. Except one night per week for maintenance, when they don't run the tunnel service, and the street-level portion of the line connects to 24-hour buses instead.

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You need one. See my example about the Steinway Tube (7 line tunnel between Queens and Manhattan). NY often runs service "wrong iron" (using a track for travel in the opposite direction) to keep lines open while routine maintenance is performed.

Technically, to provide round-the-clock service, you don't need a track at all. SEPTA often runs bus replacements on the Market-Frankford Line overnight. They still provide 24-hour service, and those buses are packed.

Claiming that we need some type of magical 4-track setup to provide basic service is emblematic of the "we can't do it here" attitude that pervades the T. Every other North American city of our size has solved these problems.

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Technically, to provide round-the-clock service, you don't need a track at all. SEPTA often runs bus replacements on the Market-Frankford Line overnight. They still provide 24-hour service, and those buses are packed.

The MBTA did this in the early 2000s, called the "Night Owl" service; buses running from subway station to station. It was poorly advertised and overpriced (for the time), and thus destined to fail.

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than operate late given >$13 ride operational cost. Just makes no sense to keep the system running during such low demand hours when Uber, Lyft, cabs, Hubway, and others offer so many transit options.

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As an aside, I find it laughable that Uber is still completely unregulated in Mass. because politicians can't find time to write legislation, and the cab system (or dozens of systems) in Greater Boston IS THE WORST IN THE COUNTRY.

I mean, this is the only city in the world where not a single cab has a light that tells you whether it's available.

If you want my honest opinion, the only reliable way home late at night is to walk, bike, or drive.

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Industries don't implicitly need regulation just because. Uber has only been good for consumers, and has enough odds stacked against them with no shortage of crony regulatory threats. What on earth do you hope to gain, or what is the harm you're trying to fix? That you can actually get picked up in this day and age, for cheaper, in cleaner cars, without drivers being indentured to the highly regulated medallion system?

Your instinct of "there must be regulations for regulations sake" is what makes so many things come to suck, like the out of proportion cost to operate the T in the first place. Regulations should be careful and in response to need, not for their own sake. This is in fact, truly laughable.

Amusingly, Uber is now starting to play the regulation game now that it is becoming so dominant - for the specific purpose of building a moat against competitors. Regulations tend to help incumbents, not upstarts, in the business world.

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On the other hand, all of recorded history.

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you don't get out much. Ever take a cab in New Orleans? El Paso? Detroit?

That the Boston taxi cab is fragmented in regulation doesn't matter much to riders most of the time. The quality and safety and predictability is far higher than many other American cities.

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I didn't have any problems, and they were available (except that I was in the central city).

Boston has serious availability problems and serious scamming problems. I'd like to see the firm data on cabs in these three cities - bearing in mind that "better than" can still be "woefully inadequate".

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Cabs here are the worst because they ARE regulated!
- No busy/free lights
- Very expensive. How is it $10 to go ~ 1 mile, even with little traffic?
- Drivers don't know the map
- Cabs don't have AC, or won't turn it on
- Cabs often won't take credit cards
- Dispatch is rude and very unhelpful
- Dispatch always says cab is 5 or 10 minutes away, even when they are 2 or 20 minutes away
- Drivers stop in the middle of streets to pick-up / drop off, even when there is space curbside
- I could go on.

Why regulate Uber? (That is, unless you're an elected official taking major campaign donations from the big medalion owners?)

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deleted

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It would make for an interesting reading for the MBTA to publish who made the most overtime while working the extended service shifts.

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You only get overtime if you work overtime.

The T is shiftwork - there is some premium for a split shift (two commutes, two rush hours) but none if your eight hour shift runs from 6pm to 2am.

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Not true. MBTA employees working after midnight (IIRC) are paid a premium rate.

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I said it earlier this year - when they cut it back, they'd render it next-to-useless and ridership would fall, then they would use that as an excuse to eliminate it completely later on. Looks like I was right.

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It's been clear from the outset that Baker had a two point plan for the T. Reduce service. Raise fares.

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#3 - Privatize as much as possible.

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#4: PROFIT!

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If businesses are looking to "profit" from public transit, then I also have some beautiful ocean front property in Holyoke I want to unload to them also.

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"for profit" school corporations, for-profit prisons ...

In other words, there is profit when profit comes first!

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Someone pointed out above how the private Uber service is out-competing the T late-night service. Tell me again how privatizing some of this stuff would be a bad thing?

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I mean, Baker's been trying to do that for at least 15 years. He's succeeded it at so far.

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These young hipsters and college kids think everything is for free. They get a wishy washy governor Devalue to give them something that makes NO FISCAL sense and the rest of us are supposed to pay for it. Reality strikes home when there is no actual usage and it cost about $20,000 per rider to run the Night Owl service. I laughed at the Globe closeup photos of 3 folks in the train station talking up the service, there were only about 50 people all night on the trains. About time Common $ense prevailed.

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Reality strikes home when there is no actual usage and it cost about $20,000 per rider to run the Night Owl service.

20k PER RIDER?!? Please cite your source..

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Because nobody else would ever have a need for late night service. On top of that, "hipsters" and college kids are probably two of the most likely demos to be using Uber instead.

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Drivers in this country pay for less than 50% of the cost of roads so using your Angry Old Man Yells At Clouds logic we should shut the highways down. No more free lunch for you.

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… and to staff the toll collection and security systems in the Sumner, Callahan, and Frozen Head tunnels — probably much more than is recouped in tolls during the overnight period. By the 's logic, the highway tunnels should be shut down after midnight too.

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☑ Exhortation for kids to get off of lawn
☑ "Hipster" as pejorative
☑ Nonsensical portmanteau of politician name
☑ ...accusing him of something that didn't happen on his watch
☑ Complaints about own tax dollars being used to fund Thing I Don't Like
☑ Wildly inflated cost estimates of Thing I Don't Like
☑ Use of $-as-S, in the manner of Slashdot circa 2001

Promise me you'll register an account, Joey. You look like you've got what it takes to join the pantheon with markkkkk and FISH.

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I approve of your slashdot reference.

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Assuming that $14million number is correct, that means only 700 people rode the late night service since inception? I call BS.

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Personally, I'm just happy I can take the Green Line home after midnight(I live in West Newton) on the occasions that I'm in the city late(most often after a hockey game on Comm. Ave.). What portion of the 2 a.m. closing crowd is students or twentysomethings who can walk home or take a quick Uber and don't need an Orange Line ride to Malden or wherever? Is late night service essential in a booming Boston?

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Charlie won't be happy until the T is dead except for the extremely expensive to run commuter rail, which serves his constituents in the wealthy burbs. Several commuter rail lines have very low ridership and have subsidies equal to the night owl, why are people who work 9-5 more important than those who work late shifts in hospitals and restaurants or other companies that work very long or late shifts?

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...they're already working on reducing Northside CR service to just the 9-5 crowd. Just thought I'd mention that while we're at it. See lengthy discussion elsewhere.

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I'm shocked. Just shocked.

I NEVER said from the beginning that they would find excuses left and right to kill the service.

I NEVER imagined when they cut the end time back to just a smidge too early for any bar/club employees to take it home that they would then complain about no one riding it.

This just doesn't sound like the T at all!

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Does the MBTA not understand how round-trips work?

If someone is taking a trip at 1:30am, it is most likely that they are returning home. That means their original trip was during regular service hours, say 8pm.

Cut the 1:30am trip and theyre not shifting to 12:00am - theyre shifting away from the T, period, because it will no longer serve their need. That means buying a car or simply not making that trip.

So no, you dont lose X trips, you lose 2x trips. Same with the fare. You lose both fares.

Thats why cutting the least used ride is always idiotic.

The last train of the day will ALWAYS be the emptiest (except for special events like New Years), because people do NOT want to be stranded.

If service ends at 2am, you plan for 1:45am just in case. If you cut service to 1:45am, you plan for 1:30am, etc etc.

Keep doing the "cut the lowest ridership trip" and suddenly you are operating from 7am to 9 am and from 4pm to 6pm.

And then you can still cut further because youre a goddamn public service so of course youre running at a loss.

Oh wait, thats the R plan. All according to plan then.

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I'm fine with this, as long as the Pike will also be shut down late nights, at least west of 128. I mean, seriously, how many cars are on the Pike by Holyoke between 2 and 6 in the morning? If a car catches fire during those hours, the cost to rescue the driver must be astronomical. It makes no fiscal sense whatsoever to keep these roads open when barely anyone is using them late at night.

Right?

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BTW, $14 million is less than the cost of 2 lives.

Youre telling me late night transit service didnt prevent any injuries or deaths by drunk drivers?

In the big boy world, we look at costs and benefits.

The analysis presented by the MBTA is all about costs. Zero benefits.

Hell, forget lives for a second - sales tax directly impacts the MBTA. How many dollars less will be spent resulting in less tax for the MBTA?

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The $14M is a fraction of what the T is currently spending (~$80M) to install new third rails and switches as part of their "winter resiliency project." IOW it's the equivalent of a few hundred yards - perhaps a mile? - of third rail.

This is a drop in the bucket compared to what the T needs - something like $7B - to even come close to being solvent again. How exactly is saving $14M here going to do anything for them?

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Obviously it didn't work. That's about the time that uber came out who would want to wait for a bus and train when you have your own personal driver.

Another thing that haven't worked out too well is moving the bus stops from where they were to different locations without letting the property owners that were directly effented by this that it was happening. And in one case they moved a bus stop in a bust intersection on Washington street and foster street a block up to completely block a fire hydrant and a curb cut. Probably the only bus stop I have seen in Massachusetts that blocks a fire hydrant.

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Isn't that a better situation that taking a usable parking spot? Having live buses in and out quickly does little to eliminate the availability of a hydrant when needed.

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Feel free to make a note

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Maybe UBER will spend some of the money they have raised on a public transit system to replace the MBTA as they have successfully replaced cabs :)

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Baker is really doing everything he can to help Uber, first working to full legalize it and now take away the competition. But he has money to spend millions to add parking at Logan when better, later transit would lessen the need for more parking there.

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Oh is he going to use the same incompetent big dig contractor that Gov DeValuator did, on a no-bid contract, after pledging never to use that contractor ever ever again?

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This reminds me of the promises made about the 39 route when stops were eliminated. Buses would run more frequently and regularly since they would not have to stop at every intersection. Somehow fewer stops would lead to less bunching.

Wait for a southbound 39 around 5:00 PM on a Sunday. After 30 minutes two 39 buses will approach as they play hopscotch.

I am not convined that the people running the T have more than a mediocre understanding of how to run a transportation system. Nor am I convinced that the legislature is competent to manage the funding needed to support a public transportation. Nor am I convinced that th Executive branch comprehends that government is not a business.

I am convinced that in business and management across much of U.S. industory and government that there exists a delusionsal belief of "we know everything" all the while the physical, electronic and administrative infrastructures are deteriorating. We see the deterioration in disintegrating bridges and failing transportation systems, an internet that is insufficient and unnecessarily expensive and in government agencies (e.g,. Boston's Housing Department) that create hurdles and impediments to making things better.

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A substantial portion must be people enjoying bars and other nightlife. If you can do that, you have some disposable income and can afford to pay extra.

As one of these people, I would say it's reasonable to pay more if it's really necessary. What's that phrase: shut up and take my money?

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    ... tired workers, who were happy for a late-night ride home.

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As a 20-something who would like to go to bars and other nightlife in Boston: yes, I have disposable income, but not that much. If I have to take an Uber because I'll miss the last T (which as others mentioned, is not very widely publicized), then I'm going to skip going out altogether. It's irritating being out and having to watch for 1:30 or whenever it is that you'll have to leave, a good amount of time before the bar closes. The last time I stayed out late, I ended up paying $40 to get home because I thought the last train was later than it was and had to pay for Lyft surge pricing.

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The State never seems to get this right because they fail to fully understand how theird target audience interacts with the service and I believe this issue is even worse in regards to late night/early morning users.

We can all guess the groups that would benefit most from these services. Patrons of bars/nightclubs, college students and third shifters.

The college students will only use the service if it is incorporated into their monthly pass, otherwise why not just take an Uber. They also will not take something they do not know exists, so tremendous outreach on college campuses is essential.

The nightclub crowd is very similar but need a wider berth of locations as they are not as centrally located as the college crowd.

The third shifters need to know that the service will be there before they depend on it for their living. The MBTA makes a habit of playing games with these services so of course this crowd will not risk it if they can help it.

These are just basic things that popped into my head. I imagine sitting down and having real conversations with the core users would result in very informative data.

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It's been clear to me for years that Boston just does not understand the fact that people actually do things late at night. It may be a byproduct of the old blue laws, it might just be a function of "but we've always rolled up our sidewalks before midnight", I don't know. But this is the second time now that the T has addressed demands for late-night service only to turn around later and go "Well gee, there's no demand, guess there are no night owls out there." It's sad.

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IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/freeorange.jpg)
Just leave the fare gates wide open, so no passengers will be counted. Many of the employees I spoke to, said they hated late night service. It's not beyond reason that the service was deliberately sabotaged by people who didn't want to provide it, and had the power to fudge the numbers.

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The T did everything in its power to minimize the public's knowledge of the late-night service. Certainly not a case of oops, someone forgot to do their job. Sabotage feels like it for sure.

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It is a New England mindset.

I am a City Councillor in Chelsea and I recall being at a meeting shortly after I was first elected at 25 where I spoke about the need for being able to get a temporary one night parking pass electronically in the event you have guests who may possibly end up staying past midnight but you did not anticipate that. I was told by many that people should have thought of that in advance enough to go to city hall and buy a year long pass for visitors etc. Others looked at me horrified that I would be up past midnight with someone in my apartment (I used the example of a poker game with friends where one has too much to drink and needs to sleep on my couch.) It just felt surreal to me that I was being looked at in a very negative way for not going to bed early on a Saturday night.

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A better solution to this problem is to make sure there's adequate nonresident parking in all neighborhoods.

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Where do we put this new parking, double-decker streets?

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Exactly. MA forces bars to close at 2AM. In NH it's 1AM. As for other businesses, no one in government would care if such-and-such chooses to close at 8PM or 9PM, but if they want to stay open late into the night they have to beg permission from their local zoning/planning bureaucrats. There is a strong cultural bias in this area that only shady people are out late at night, and the government shouldn't be doing anything to "support" or "encourage" such people.

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Here's the best way to publicize late-night-service:

In every entrance to every subway station, put up a sign that says something like:

Last Braintree train: 12:23 am Mon - Fri, 1:46 am Sat & Sun
Last Ashmont train: 12:30 am Mon - Fri, 1:57 am Sat & Sun
Last Alewife train: 12:58 am Mon - Fri, 2:14 am Sat & Sun

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Some Green Line stations do have these signs. First one that comes to mind is Symphony.

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I've seen such signs here and there. But I've never seen any that mention the later weekend times.

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That will inform people but it won't publicize it. It's the equivalent of a city council posting important meeting notices on the door of city hall. Most people who use the T are already familiar with the schedule, inured to the idea that they need to get where they're going by midnight-ish, and this kind of notice would change nothing except for the most detail-observant people.

If the T wanted to publicize it, they'd put up large, highly visible posters at every bus stop, next to the system maps in every station, on the subways and buses themselves, and so on. At a minimum. They'd, you know, launch an actual advertising campaign to get word out to people.

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Have none of these control board members heard of the network effect? How does it make any sense to segregate this late night service expense from the MBTA's overall operations? By that logic, we should split out midday service as well and start chopping that, too.

Why in the world are we focused on a $14 million line item when that's less than six percent of the total budget deficit they're looking at? In real terms, what the hell difference does that actually make?

No one is willing to address the MBTA's massively out of control structural costs (i.e. labor), so here we are making a big stink about such a relatively minor thing to feign making progress when the reality is that cutting programs like late night service will do nothing to fix the real problems. How utterly and ridiculously pathetic.

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The money the T needs to become solvent and functional again is $7B. $14M is 2‰ (that's 0.2%) of that figure, not 6%.

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No, operational budget deficit and maintenance backlog are not the same thing. I am talking about the $200+ million gap they are looking to close for the next fiscal year, of which this $14 million late night service is approximately six percent.

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According to this story, the MBTA had planned to spend $1.9M on "public art" as part of the GLX, which they've also now cancelled.

$1.9M. How much else completely unnecessarily spending like that could they find to cut in lieu of cutting the late-night service?

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