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Editorial | MBTA service should continue at night

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 07:02


A recent survey by the MBTA Rider Oversight Committee, a group affiliated with but independent from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) on the issue of extending MBTA subway and bus services later into the night has been distributed on social media and other parts of the Internet in an attempt to garner support for the effort. The move comes at the same time as a small-scale campaign by two students at Suffolk University, Joel Edwards and Funsho Owojori, who have created Facebook and Twitter outlets for their campaign, “Boston Stay Up,” originally for a class. In the MBTA’s most recent late-night transportation effort, from 2001 to 2005 a so-called “night owl service” ran from 1 to 2:30 a.m., but it was financially untenable. Despite this past failure, the Daily feels the MBTA should continue to work toward extending subway and bus services to cover as much of the late night as possible for the benefit of the citizens of the city.

The inability to use the T after certain hours stymies Boston’s nightlife and creates undue hassle for people in the city. Whether trying to get back to the suburbs from a third shift at a late-night job in the city or returning from a concert at the House of Blues or Wang Theatre, Bostonians of all ages and backgrounds could make great use of later hours. The benefits to the city would be numerous. It goes without saying that stimulating nightlife is a positive, as is providing help for those of us whose very livelihood depends on late-night travel and the simple benefit of being able to get home from the airport or some other destination after the relatively early stop time before 1 a.m. Lengthening the hours that the T and buses run would be a great move on the part of the MBTA.

Undoubtedly the cost of doing so is the main obstacle, but it is also a significant one that has prevented the reinstitution of the service since 2005. The budget shortfall for the MBTA is gargantuan in size, limiting services. To combat this, fare increases for late-night service in addition to limiting service to certain stops — bypassing some stations, as some subways in New York do — would also be a possibility. Perhaps the most obvious way of tackling this would be pairing state-instituted restructuring with more funding to make sure that the MBTA does not become lax with increased funds. Still, regardless of the method chosen, it should be a realistic and intelligent approach that values the expansion of hours. Reinstating the night owl service by the MBTA in the city is something that would not only benefit Bostonians, but also add to the prestige of the city itself. If we love the Hub, shouldn’t it love us back? 

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