Earlier this week the MBTA Rider Oversight Committee, an independent agency, submitted recommendations that if implemented will ease T ridership for college students. To accomplish this goal a new student pass program will be instituted that, according to the report’s author, will provide “unlimited rides for no less than 100 percent of any college’s full-time student population.”
The estimated 250,000 college students that go to school in the area will be able to ride with an unlimited college student pass program that will be purchased through the student’s area college. Colleges would pay for the unlimited passes at the beginning of each term, based on similar plans brought forth in Chicago and Milwaukee.
Revenue from the new pass program would then go towards funding overnight T service as well as other improvements to the system, supporting the report’s aim to be mutually beneficial to all parties.
Among these improvements are, to the glee of BC students, improvements to the Green Line. More specifically, all doors will be open on Green Line trains at all time of day in order to ease the backlog of riders at the front fare box.
Currently the T runs until roughly 12:30A.M., what some say is a significant drawback compared to other cities nationwide. The increased revenue from the new college pass system could increase to as much as $43 million each year, according to The Oversight Committee’s report. These funds would be used in part to keep the T open later than its current closing time.
Late night T service has been an issue with local college students and the area at large for some time now. The issue has been discussed frequently on the campaign trail for the city’s open mayoral election, with several mayoral candidates pledging their support for extended T service ahead of the September 24 preliminary election.
Boston City Councilor Felix A. Arroyo said, “I believe our MBTA should be 24/7,” while fellow Councilor Mike Ross cited his experience bringing the Night Owl bus service to fruition from 2001 to 2005. Boston College graduate and mayoral candidate Marty Walsh has not given a definitive comment on the future of late night MBTA expansion under his potential administration.
When the T closes at roughly 12:30A.M. every night, much of the time is spent on nightly repairs that the MBTA believes are a necessary component of dealing with a system that is, in many areas, over 100 years old. Worries still linger about properly balancing the need for nightly repairs with the proposed expansion.
As they consider the Committee’s proposal, the MBTA is asking for area students to offer their input. To get colleges to go along with the expansion, students must make it known to their respective colleges and universities that they would like to see a change in the current T hours and welcome the proposed U-Pass.
Student groups such as the College Democrats of Massachusetts have been pushing hard for this issue, and the MBTA itself made it clear that it will rely on student support to implement any such reforms. If students want the possible 50% fare discount, a safer way back home, as well as greater access to the city that they call home, this hearing is only the first step in a long process.
Feature image courtesy of Adam E. Moreira/Wikimedia Commons.