Slashing late night and weekend T service: ‘It’s not a good idea’
Just as conversations heat up about keeping the T open later, the MBTA has to air out the idea of closing earlier on weekdays, and all together on weekends, to help close a $120 million budget gap.
So it may come as no surprise that the idea doesn’t sit well with local groups who want more access to the struggling transit agency.
“Boston is a great place to live and move to and that’s partly because of the T,” said Kristina Egan, coalition director for Transportation for Massachusetts, a group that wants safe, convenient, and affordable transportation. “If we are shrinking hours in the system it’s going to be harder to keep the students here after graduation. It’s not a good idea. We need more transit service, not less.”
Transportation officials this week discussed the possibility of eliminating bus routes, cancelling weekend T service or weekday service after 11 p.m., and doing away with commuter rail service on the weekends, none of which were welcome ideas among the city’s T riders.
The MBTA’s proposals came just weeks after a pair of Suffolk University students launched Boston Stay Up, a grassroots social media push for later T service, seven days a week. It also came on the heels of a survey put out by the MBTA Rider Oversight Committee asking riders whether they’d support “after hours” T service.
“Cutting weekend service would immensely harm the city’s hospitality and tourist industry. They can’t get to Boston’s restaurants or museums. That would be such a turn off for so many people. I don’t think it’s a good idea,” said 20-year-old Funsho Owojori, co-founder of Boston Stay Up.
Her counterpart Joel Edwards pointed to the potential loss of revenue of shutting down weekend service, particularly on the commuter rail.
“So much of the city’s tourists come from around the state on day trips. We’d lose tourist dollars,” he said.
While no weekend service would be a nearly impossible pill to swallow, Egan said closing down service earlier on business days would also have a massive effect on the city’s workers.
“That means people can’t get to their second shifts or overnight shifts. People need the T all ties of day. It would be an economic blow to Boston if we don’t keep the hours we already have, or expand them.”