In a recent policy change, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has altered commuter rail hours, ending late-night services. Hiked fares will accompany the hour cuts, meaning that students at BC and in the greater Boston area will need to seek out other sources of transportation on late weekend nights.
The decision was made at a Fiscal and Management Control Board meeting Monday afternoon where the MBTA voted unanimously to cut late-night T service on the weekends. The cuts will end T service after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, and have been scheduled to take effect on March 18. Currently, the T stops operate until 2:00 a.m. on weekend nights.
Despite this adjustment, the MBTA has accompanied the end of late services with an expansion of discounted student tickets. Under the new program, students will be able to obtain a discount through their Student CharlieCards for unlimited monthly rides. In addition, passes that currently last a mere 10 months will now last an entire year. The new program will be tested for at least a year before the decision will be made permanent.
Due to decreased ridership, limited time for maintenance, and an ever-growing budget deficit, the MBTA Board’s 4-0 decision to enact the change was a necessary step in improving their fiscal status. Part of a larger effort to shrink the MBTA’s deficit, the decision to cut late night weekend hours is expected to help curb the organization’s estimated $242 million deficit.
City officials, as well as college students both downtown and in the greater Boston area, expressed apprehension regarding the cuts to late-night services, concerned that the cuts would make weekend excursions challenging and costly for college students.
The MBTA ensured those who were hesitant that the policy change would not obliterate all late-night transportation service but merely shift the burden to taxis and ride-sharing services. The fares charged by taxi drivers and ride-sharing services like Uber, however, are already substantially higher than a single ride ticket on the T.
“While I think the T is a useful resource for students to get around the city both on the weekends and weekdays, I often find myself and my friends using services like Uber to get around,” said Sabrina Posadas, CSOM ’19. “Uber is reliable, fast, and easy, but I do agree that the Uber fares have a negative effect on my bank account balance.”
Despite public concern over the changing policies, the MBTA announced Monday that the new projected budget for the 2017 fiscal year would have a $134 million deficit, reflecting over $104 million in savings. The new projected deficit is 43 percent lower than the $242 million deficit in the original forecast. The revised estimate can be attributed to approximately 75 percent in lowered expenses and 25 percent in improved revenues.