BOSTON — The MBTA has approved a $1.2 million pilot of late-night bus service to give overnight workers on the North Shore more frequent transit service.
If this sounds familiar, it is. The T tried the Night Owl bus program in 2005. More recently, they experimented with a late night service on weekends. But that trial was dropped in 2016 when there were too few riders.
But the T said the new pilot is based on more information.
“This is a new approach to late night service using data,” said Laurel Paget-Seekins, director of fare policy and analytics.
The expanded service is expected to serve people in the hospitality and medical fields, she said.
The expanded service will serve cities north of Boston, including East Boston, Lynn, Revere, Chelsea, and Malden, and neighborhoods south of the city, including Dorchester and Mattapan. Fares are unchanged.
For North Shore riders, the 442 serving Lynn and 117 serving Revere will have late night options. Lynn and Revere will be served by increased frequency after 10pm on the 116, 117, and 442.
Paget-Seekins said the program will start in September and their use of data will allow them to review the service after six months based on ridership.
The bus networks would “not quite” operate 24 hours a day under the proposal, but it “starts to get close to that,” Ramirez said.
The project includes hiring six bus drivers and the pilot will add about 282 new bus trips weekly, according to the MBTA.
TransitMatters, a transit advocacy group in Boston, praised the T’s latest move to serve riders.
“Night Bus will respond to the economic realities of a city and region that functions 24/7 basis,” said Ethan Finlan, a member of the group, in a statement.
Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo said every other world class city has transit well into the night.
“For all that’s happening in the downtown with the new restaurants that are open and the active night life, you have to make sure workers can get there,” he said. “We count on the T and have three MBTA stops. There’s lots of value in any additional service the T provides, it’s an additional benefit to our residents.”