By Haley Costen
It’s been 25 weeks since the MBTA launched its $20 million weekend late night service pilot, and ridership has been going strong. But some critics have questioned who the service really benefits, and at what cost.
“World-class cities offer late night public transit to support the workforce and a vibrant nightlife, and Boston is a world-class city,” Governer Deval Patrick said in a press release about the launch in March.
With more than 100 colleges in the greater Boston area, it can be assumed that a large portion of the over half a million late-night riders taking advantage of Boston’s nightlife are college students.
Kelly Smith, a spokeswoman for the MBTA, maintains that the pilot of the late-night service was mainly to serve people in the service industry.
“One of the main catalysts for the introduction of late-night service was to enable service industry, hospital and other workers the ability to use public transportation to get home at the end of their shifts, instead of paying for parking or cabs,” Smith said.
Smith maintained that the pilot is not just catering to students and young professionals, but that it will also act as a transit alternative for many patrons and employees of late-night businesses, including those in the restaurant, entertainment, and hospitality sectors.
When asked about any future improvements to low-income areas and neighborhoods of people of color, Smith said that the late-night weekend service was one of the main catalysts of the pilot, and that it will not just service Boston’s young, wealthier demographic.
“Service industry workers- the backbone of our social economy, were previously unable to utilize the MBTA for their commute, will now be able to get home more affordably and, in turn, better improve their personal economies,” Smith said.
Groups like the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition have been petitioning the MBTA for a $10