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Back to the City that Always Sleeps: Late-night T service to end in March

Effective March 18, the Globe reports.

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It was dead months ago, the minute it was announced, it was dead.. FCB just need 'due process' of useless public input before they could officially pull the plug.

So much for transit being a service, regardless if it loses money or is popular or not. Apparently public input doesn't matter all that much when politicians are dead set on driving this train into the ground.

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In reality an anti business Faker. Not surprising that the Faker stacked board made this decision. Terrible decision. The T could make it work if they wanted to. They just didn't want to.

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The T could make it work if they wanted to. They just didn't want to.

Correct. They could have made it work.. but they didn't want to. Like I said above, the minute it was slated that it could be cut, it was going to be cut. They do not care about the riders at all.

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Restaurant workers, graveyard shift-workers, and freelancers will, once again, no longer have an affordable way to get to home/get to work.

Drunk people will, once again, no longer have an affordable way to get home, especially those who don't live in Boston proper. I haven't dealt with Uber/Lyft surge pricing at night, but I wonder about the implications of shortages + drivers not wanting to go past the river (in addition to old school taxi drivers who still don't drive to certain neighborhoods).

And not to even mention that the Late Night Service actually never serviced first shift (3-5 am) workers, though I did hope that LNS would have gone that way eventually.

I would say thank goodness for my bike, but honestly? I'm going to have to be on even higher alert on the streets very late at night.

Great.

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That's an average of 1,625/night. That's less than $3,800/night in fares paid (assuming a $2.30 fare) for the month. What level of service could the T provide for less than $3,800/night?

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Is that including the partner trips of people who paid to come into the city (during normal hours) for the night to revel, or people who switch to the T for a job that starts during normal operating hours but ends during late-night, knowing they would have a train back out again when they were done? Otherwise in at least some cases you're counting half the trips lost from cutting late-night service.

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I don't believe the pilot should have been canceled out right. The MBTA could have experimented with having a separate fare. The MBTA could have just deployed buses from the Key Bus Routes (and not have them run different routes like the Night Owl did, which I believe helped its demise but someone with more knowledge than me can speak further to its downfall) and *then* moved to trains if the ridership called for it. The MBTA could run a pilot with Bridj. Those are just some ideas off the bat.

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"...and not have them run different routes like the Night Owl did, which I believe helped its demise but someone with more knowledge than me can speak further to its downfall..."

I don't have any inside knowledge, but speaking as an ordinary citizen, I think the Night Owl service was doomed from the start. I consider myself to be a pretty well-educated person, but I found the "instructions" incredibly confusing, and that was when I was sober, lol. I can't imagine how people who were 3 sheets to the wind would ever figure out where to go to get which buses, etc. The whole thing was a perverse joke.

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That sounds like ~nightly~ ridership, i.e., 13,000 rides a night of service. Though, of course, they don't specify, as that would be helpful to the average person trying to make sense of this.

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13,000 trips in Dec. 2015. There were 8 Fri/Sat nights, which as you must know because you're such a genius, is when the late-night service runs.. 13,000/8= 1,625. 1,626 * 2.30 (which assumes ALL trips were subway) = $3,737.5.

Not sure where you got 104 nights in Dec, but sounds like you're ready for the T board yourself.

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The T has over 30 million trips a month, and you think they only pulled in only 13,000 late night fares on the entirety of the system for an entire month?

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BosInno says:

Consistent ridership – 15,000 to 17,000 trips on average each weekend – and a total of more than 400,000 trips taken in four-plus months looks good on paper, and might very well be a "good sign" that late night service is here to stay. But the fact remains: The T has yet to determine how many late-night trips will be considered enough to justify the continued existence of extended hours.

So that low 13,000 number was probably per average weekend in December, not for the totality of December?

EDIT: Yeah this AP reporter is just illiterate; that's per weekend:

Customers took about 16,000 rides on late-night service when it first started, compared to 13,000 by December 2015.

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If you can't afford Uber surge prices, good luck getting a cab home if you live in East Boston.

Just reading through that...the stupidity hurts. "It's only two nights, so it doesn't help low-income workers because most jobs aren't only two nights a week!" So saving "only" $40-$60 (or more) a week on cabs isn't a benefit to low-income workers working nights? "Ridership went down by December!" How does this compare to normal service? I can't speak for everyone, but I certainly go out less on weekends in the winter than I do in spring through fall.

With all due respect, Planck is either willfully ignorant, or a moron.

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during the months where the T would literally get you fired from any reasonable employment if you relied on it to commute to work??

~*shocking*~

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are they not aware that students leave the city in various stages during December? I mean the population of people who would use the service is probably half during that month. Excellent month to choose when cherry picking to support ones theory that ridership is not sufficient. I must admit, they did a really good job killing the service despite the entire city supporting it. MMMMMM gubment.....yum.

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With all due respect, Planck is either willfully ignorant, or a moron.

He's a moron. So is the rest of that "Fiscal Control Board". They aren't here to make the T better, they are here to make Baker look good. Who cares about the riders when Baker needs to look good for his cronies.

It just shows how out of touch this FCB really is with the rider base...

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What really chaps me is the fact that LNS didn't even have a true run. Ridership is lowest in the winter, for obvious reasons, and the summer because the students vacate the city. And then last winter was a statistical anomaly. I don't know if the FMCB took last winter into consideration when harvesting data, but I sincerely hope not.

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an either/or question. maybe he's both?

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I'm a cabbie. Very sorry to hear that cab drivers have refused you service to East Boston. I've never refused a fare to Eastie, especially late at night.

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Price should have increased to reflect lower ridership of the late hours. Maybe then it could have survived.

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To be honest, I was surprised that the MBTA didn't make the LNS come with a different fare. My guess is that a different fare bracket wasn't introduced so as not to scare off potential riders? In Amsterdam, which is comparable in size but slightly less dense than Boston, the trains shut down by midnight but the bus system runs from 12 - 6 am and a trip costs 4,50e (about $5). I think that's a little pricey, but I would have rather entertained a LNS fare or maybe have it roped separately a LinkPass (or its own pass!) instead not having LNS at all.

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i used to split my time between newton and kenmore and i gotta say, $5 would have been way cooler than ~$30 cab fare.

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I'm not entirely sure, just asking/speculating, are the fare boxes programmable to have alter service rates based on time? It's certainly something that's been posited elsewhere, but much like the argument for fare hikes that we're currently discussing, probably doesn't do a whole lot to offset the cost of late night service.

I'm really pissed about the leadership on this (rather, the utter absence of it). This is a service that there is demand for, yet the T and Baker are unwilling to do the research and work it would take to find a service that fits the need/LOS and meets budgetary goals.

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there would have to be some sort of consideration for monthly passes too

i dont know what that consideration is, but they exist, and are priced with one rate in mind

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I think it would actually be reasonable to have monthlies just go through as normal. If a few extra $5 Fri/Sat trips a month push someone to pay the $75 on the first instead of paying $2.50-$5 per trip, that seems like a win for the MBTA. Maybe you could have 2 tiers for weeklies.

Disclosure: author uses monthly pass

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While this would be the first time anyone suggested imitating a practice by the MWRTA, their short buses take CharlieCard cash balance on the same sensor pad but not monthly/weekly passes, and they are set up to take a different fare than the MBTA buses. Perhaps late-night buses could have a similar setup configured as swappable by the driver, where it would flat-out ignore the pass system of the CharlieCard, default to cash balance, and deduct a different fare when in late mode.

EDIT: Better idea, have the system recognize the monthly pass but simply deduct the fare difference.

Same author disclosure applies

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Ha! I was unaware that MWRTA was using this practice (have to admit that I've yet to really spend any time out there).

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I believe that, on the express buses, if you have (for example) a LinkPass but want to go downtown (not local), it will deduct from any cash balance on the card. The farebox is programmed with the express buses to swap between local fare and "express" fare - the driver hits a button to switch. I'm not sure if the fare box settings are connected to whatever route is programmed on the board, or manually input, or what. But it should be possible, for sure.

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I know people here want to be all 'boo government!' but I really think that ridership has decreased due to Uber in the last few months. If the same group of college folks / young professionals who used to take th T to get home / go to another party or club, given the current population, that could account for the drop in ridership. I mean, consider you are going home at 1:30 from Harvard Square to Allston Village - 3 of you crammed into an Uber maybe would cost 15-20$ total, and take 15 minutes in an Uber once it arrives (ballpark of course) - now, imagine those same 3 students, out in the cold, waiting for a red line, then being delayed going over the Long Fellow, then maybe there is a bus diversion, then taking the geen line back to Harvard Ave...now you are talking what, an hour to get back? If the 66 is running, you could wait out in the cold and maybe get back to same place in 25ish mins?

Yes, public transit would be much cheaper (even with a fare hike) than an uber, or UberX, but tapping on your phone and waiting in a warm bar, or hailing a taxi to go along a route like that, maybe makes more sense.

It sucks they cut back service - I've only used it late maybe 4-5 times since it has been running, but really, what the hell is $9 million when you're talking hundreds of millions?

An interesting plan would be to subcontract out to Uber for short hops from Cambridge across mass ave to Hynes as a connector, or run sort of an 'express bus' that isn't the 1 / CT 1 to get people to bypass a chunk of the 'spokes' that require you to go in and out of the city center to go somewhere.

Wouldn't it be cool if Trump's Mexican wall had a monorail on it? ;)

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Yes, public transit would be much cheaper (even with a fare hike) than an uber, or UberX, but tapping on your phone and waiting in a warm bar, or hailing a taxi to go along a route like that, maybe makes more sense.

You can tell all those working class people who make minimum wage that they'll 'just have to take an uber' and see how well that goes over. I already stand behind people who buy weekly passes because coughing up 75 bucks for a monthly is too much. An Uber or a Cab is out of the question for those people.

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Actually, I wasn't think about the people on the lower end o the income brackets, I was just thinking about college kids / younger folks who bop around on a weekend night, not to go to work, but to go out. To put more simply, if there was no Uber, how many more would use the T,and would that make a big enough difference in the service numbers to justify keeping it?

This is something even occurs in NYC - a friend of mine lives in Queens and has to be in Brooklyn 3 nights a week for a second (side) job, and the only way he can get there in time is to take a car service (taxi / uber) because otherwise he has to go all the way into manhattan, then go all the way back out, so he is paying for the 45 mins a night he saves. Ideal? No, but you do what you can to make life bearable.

None of this applies to people who are making $9 an hour and don't have a car, and need to be able to get home at 2 AM. I wish the T would really consider those people more.

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You want to stay out late? Buy a car or take Uber. There are other options other than the T. Use your brain.

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but one of the two jobs im working sometimes requires me to

ah you know what nevermind, ill just bootstrap my way to success

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You know that this is going to result in an increase in drunk driving and fatalities, right? Use your brain.

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And if we've stopped caring about tacit encouragement of drunk driving enough to cancel late-night T service and let a casino serve free drinks all day, let's act consistently and while we're at it get some happy hours and bottomless brunches going in this state so people can get wasted when the T's running too

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I haven't seen any stats that drunk driving fatalities have gone down since the T offered late night service, have you? I believe your automobile hating agenda has you pulling things from your ass.

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i have no idea how much, if any, removing late night service would increase drunk driving accidents

but i highly doubt it will help

do i have an agenda too?

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How about we stop expanding all our highways (128, 2, etc.) for all these people that "want to take their car/truck to work" and invest in public transit. Why are the wealthy who can afford to drive to work (or the politically connected city and state workers who get free parking downtown) the only ones Charles Baker's vision of MA is concerned with? Money for a helipad for execs but not for public transit for late shift workers?

You want to stay at work late? Buy a car or take Uber. There are other options other than the T. Use your brain.

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People who don't drive still benefit from the roads because of all the services that they bring. Also, hardly everyone who drives is wealthy. The suburbs with trains are often more expensive than those without, and not everyone an afford to live in a neighborhood close to the city.

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People who do not use the T benefit from that system diverting people from otherwise using the roads, relieving congestion and reducing commute times.

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Which is arguable not as big of a benefit than those people who claim to only use public transit get from the roads. It's not just about cummuting but all the other services. The region is connected

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What purpose does having a qualitative discussion about proportional infrastructure benefit serve in this context? All people need water far more than they need trucks delivering goods and services, or mass transit transiting mass amounts of people in a metro area. Therefore, due to the higher benefit level of the water utility relative to road OR train infrastructure, should we cut funding sharply from both to boost the "greater good" public service?

Or is giving funding and attention to a wide spectrum of public amenities and services in tandem just part of living in a complicated modern society?

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You are arguing about something that wasn't the original point and are suggesting something that wasn't said.

A poster implied that they should cut funding to the roads, as if those that use public transit do not benefit from the roads though they actually do. You are now makings false arguments about something else.

"Or is giving funding and attention to a wide spectrum of public amenities and services in tandem just part of living in a complicated modern society?"

We already do, and can continue to make those allocations. It was not suggested that they should not, as you post implies someone stated. At the same time, that does not mean that available resources shouldn't be used according to the next benefit each service provides overall.

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"What purpose does having a qualitative discussion about proportional infrastructure benefit serve in this context?"

It was implied that those who don't drive in cares don't benefit from the roads, that's not true at all.

Spending based on usefulness is a fundamental practice in many places, no matter how you try to make it sound unreasonable.

"Or is giving funding and attention to a wide spectrum of public amenities and services in tandem just part of living in a complicated modern society?"

Suggesting that those who use public transit benefit from roads does not imply you can't also fund a wide assortment of public amenities. What you are suggesting is not a sensible argument.

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Also, editing that in clip only advances the ordinal point, which is that people benefit from things even if they don't specifically use them.

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I may be in the minority here, but I'm ok with this. I'd rather the MBTA focus on improving core services - including stuff like long overdue maintenance - and then work on a better late night service.

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IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/vvswIrw.gif)

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That that late night service cost .00784 of a PERCENT out of the T's overall operating budget.

That won't even buy a new wheel for a bus...

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So they are saving 9 million this year by cutting late night. Where else could this have come from? Why did Baker have this in his sights from when he first started (he cut it back 30 minutes earlier, helping to make it even less useful, before killing it outright). How much could the T save if they cancelled the hingham ferry (there is already a hingham commuter rail we all paid for, green bush line, during Romney's tenure. Are they both necessary? What is the per rider subsidy for commuter rail lines after 8 or 9? I bet canceling the Hingham Ferry or post 9pm commuter rail would have save more than the 9 million needed. But of course it was never about the money with late night (9 million is not that much per the T budget), its puritans like Charles that see anything after 10pm as the devils time, people should be at home sleeping by 10, right Charles? He has 100+ million in corporate welfare for GE to move into the Seaport, plus helipad money.

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Wasn't the Greenbush line planned in the 80's and submitted to the Feds in 1990?

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The timetables typically are drafted three to four months in advance; but much has already been said about the shamtastic public comment process...

Deval, Marty and Dr. Scott were so goddamned eager to appease the college kids, innovators and twenty-somethings that we found ourselves with a hastily - and thus, poorly - designed system. Alas, any of the planners, schedule-makers, and others in Operations who from the first saw the inherent flaws in the system unfortunately don't make enough money to talk back to the powers-that-be.

Owl subway service was by far the most expensive component. A bus-only Owl network would have been cheaper, offered the ability to serve more territory, and most importantly; allowed the greatest flexibility to adjust service to better meet demand. Operating some Owl bus trips as short-turns is a hell of a lot easier than trying to schedule Green Line trips to crossback at Washington Street or Chestnut Hill Avenue. Many of the waitresses, short-order cooks, bartenders, and janitors no doubt live in areas primarily served - if not, solely served - by buses; the lack of tracks and a large structure called a "station" probably won't phase them much. For the non-bus-initiated, distinctive and clear branding/marketing would wise them up quick.

And about branding and marketing...

WHY DID THE MBTA REFUSE TO CALL IT NIGHT OWL!?

Yes, the withering and eventual failure of 2001-05 era Night Owl must still be a painful memory for them. Well, MBTA, go down the hall to the bathroom; cry it all out; get your shit together; and MOVE ON! Young folks love the Instant Gram! You already have a cute owl mascot! Get an owl costume and stick that poor bastard at Park Street, Harvard, and Copley after midnight. Have a few silly contests: "The 100th person tonight to tweet (hoot?) a picture of themselves with Hooty the Night Owl wins a free LinkPass for the following month!" Publish a dedicated Night Owl timetable (digital and analog)! The West End, El and MTA thought it made since to list all the Owl trips in one, convenient place; pretty sure folks in 2016 would find it convenient, too! Put owl stickers back up on the signs at bus stops so served. And have the Night Owl page on the website at least have some engaging graphics. Maybe a flash animation? But please, not just a wall of text.

The Red Line Work-As-Directed piece proved to be a cringe-worthy waste of money. A six-car train just sitting at JFK/UMass waiting for a handful of people to transfer from the final southbound Ashmont train. Yeah. All of the passengers on a typical night (i.e. no late Sox game, etc.) could have been accommodated in one car comfortably. In that case just run a bus like you do the rest of the week! To avoid an oddball, orphan piece of Quincy work simply qualify some Cabot operators on a new Route 210 variation (JFK/UMass - Braintree via I-93 and Hancock Street); hook the trip to some of the pre-existing early work, have the guy run light back up I-93 from Braintree Station, and call it a night (or early morning).

Somerville and South Boston: Two locations that could support at least modest Owl ridership. But did they get any service? Well, perhaps the MBTA thought the walk from Davis or Andrew wouldn't be that bad. Interlining service on several routes during late evenings already has well-established precedent.

Is this really so hard:

Route 91 trip departs Sullivan Square for Central Square; upon return to Sullivan the bus then departs as a Route 89-4 (i.e. Clarendon Hill via Davis) and does a round trip. Have another bus alternate (that is, it departs Sullivan as the 89 when the 91 does) to avoid overly long headways. Throw Bennett District a bone and run a similar arrangement with the Routes 87 and 88. Likewise, in South Boston interline the Routes 09 and 10 with coordinated headways at City Point Terminal and Copley Square*.

Single Type 8's on the Green Line Owl trips. Okay, a photo of a packed car at Park Street (never mind the 20 minute headways leading to that...) looks good in the paper. I get single Type 7's are frowned upon per ADA. But just fuck the Type 8's. Saturday night brodeo + jostling center trucks = me just wanting to tuck and roll at Cottage Farm... Never again.

Running the existing Sunrise routes as part of Night Owl would have been awesome. People, especially drunk people, would likely love a one-seat ride from Haymarket to Oak Square, Ashmont, Jamaica Plain, and Broadway-Revere! And remember that branding and marketing stuff I was harping about up above? For these services it would be vital. Can the bus operating on the Route 191 actually be signed-up "191 HAYMARKET" "191 MATTAPAN"? We live in an age with apps that can wipe your ass and make your ex-wife fall in love with you again; changing a sign code shouldn't be too much of a stretch. And perhaps that special Night Owl timetable could list all the trips and time points in on place? Handing someone schedule cards for several random bus routes and telling them to "just follow the footnotes!" is not really the best way to inform people about a unique service. Print out some stickers with route number and destination info to affix to the existing stops; have the sign shop prepare signs for the existing unmarked bus stops (ex. Chauncy & Summer Streets).

A final note: Post some signs (conspicuous ones!) at Park Street and Downtown Crossing that concisely and clearly explain East-and-West. Every time I'm on a final trip holding for connections it is the usual parade of "WHY ARE WE STILL WAITING HERE?" "BRUH, CAN WE GO ALREADY?" "DUUUUUDDDDDEEEE!" This is only periodically broken up by a drunk innovator shambling off the car to puke into a trash barrel or a deranged man loudly arguing with the roll sign or a bench. Whilst sitting on the final northbound Orange Line Owl trip at Downtown Crossing one night I saw 17 people walk off the train and defect to Uber. True, they had tapped their CharlieCards; so the T got their fares. But after several Friday nights of that people will just start choosing Uber for the ride home by default. If people knew that they could make one final trip to Walgreen's or smoke one last American Spirit streetside without missing the final train it probably wouldn't hurt PR much.

Motherfucking goddamn, MBTA! Will you finally raise the bar!? Or is the Authority still not sick of tripping over it? Because the riding public sure is!

//END RANT//

*Run the 10-5 like the regular weeknight final trip so both routes begin/end at the BPL.

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A+ rant, kid.

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Those aren't grumpy pants...they're Angry Slacks!

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A job well done.

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By the way, I'm one of those who would have liked to use the Night Owl late night service, but the T for some reason thought South Boston did not deserve any late-night bus service. My second job gets me out at 2:30 am on Saturday nights, which would have been too late for the T anyway. Uber and cabs are too expensive (surge pricing) or just too long of a wait (there aren't any available), so I continue to do my 30-minute walk home, as empty, out of service buses pass me by on their return to Cabot.

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Thanks for the 10+ years of memories, Boston.

Once again, the MBTA succeeds at failure. Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Montreal, with roughly the same metro population and integrated regional transit authorities, run 24/7 service.

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How far down the list do you have to get to find a city that doesnt offer late night service?

NYC - 24/7
DC - 3am
Chicago - 24/7
MBTA - JACK SHIT
BART - Late night buses
Muni (SF) 24/7 buses and late night weekend trains
SEPTA - 24/7 buses and late night weekend trains
PATH - 24/7
MARTA - Fuck if I know its Atlanta I avoid everything to do with Atlanta
Los Angeles - 24/7 buses and late night weekend trains
Miami - Id guess this one here but they also do 30 minute off-peak headways on their single rail line so maybe not a good example of a system anyone would ever want to copy. OH WAIT THEY HAVE 24/7 BUSES MAYBE WE SHOULD COPY THEM

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If the demand is really there, quadruple the fares then see how many people really want to stay out all night.

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