Sign showing next-train arrivals at MBTA Government Center station

Will the MBTA ask TNCs to provide late-night service?

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority moved a step closer to restoring late-night service, but it is not yet known whether transportation network companies will be playing a role.

A survey conducted late in 2016 demonstrated interest in the service among overnight workers, airport passengers, and people out for the evening. Among the 2,000 respondents who need work-related transportation between 1 AM and 5 AM, 91% said they would be very or extremely likely to take public transportation if it were available. Of the 4,700 who travel during those hours for other reasons, 81% said they would be very or extremely likely to use transit.

The MBTA cancelled late-night service last year, but has been considering options to bring it back. Transportation network companies Lyft and Bridj offered to provide late-night service for the MBTA in unsolicited proposals. Each company sought a subsidy from the MBTA to cover part of the costs.

Brian Lang, a member of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, said TNCs should offer overnight service before asking for subsidies.  “There’s nothing stopping them from implementing them,” Lang said. “I’m challenging them to demonstrate to us that it can be cost effective. If they can’t demonstrate it….without public subsidy, maybe it doesn’t make sense.” Link to full story in CommonWealth.

Photo credit: Susan Mara Bregman

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