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MBTA to offer late-night service in 2014

Late-night workers and students alike will benefit from a long awaited late-night bus, rail and subway trial service beginning in 2014, announced Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday night.

The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has partnered with several private company sponsors in order to fund the extended hours, which will be a one-year pilot program intended to  service the numerous workers with late shifts and boost the region’s economy as a whole, according to a Wednesday press release from the MBTA.

“A vibrant economy demands a public transit system that caters to the residents, students and tourists it serves,” Patrick said in the release. “Extending service on weekends and evenings will allow the public to enjoy the many attractions and restaurants the region has to offer and give workers a more cost-effective option for getting home late at night.”

Kelly Smith, spokeswoman for the MBTA, said riders and many businesses have been asking for this program for an extended period of time, but it is only now that a change is financially possible.

“The MBTA is state-run and separate from the city budget, so this is going to be subsidized by sponsorships,” she said. “That’s where we were able to come up with a plan and a new idea. It is part of a bigger public-private partnership that we’re exploring in other areas as well. This is another great example of that, having the private sector step up and that will be the majority of the financial sponsorships.”

The Boston Globe is the first Platinum Sponsor, contributing $500,000. There will also be a number of other businesses funding this program, expected to cost about $20 million a year, who will be announced later on in the week, according to the release.

Smith said other similar attempts to expand hours of operation were unsuccessful, but this program will provide a larger system of late-night travel options than ever before.

“We had the night owl service [a while back], but that was just [a] bus service, and that did not prove to be financially viable, so we discontinued it,” she said. “This will include subway, light rail and bus service on the 15 key bus routes in the city . . . We have to see how the program goes, but we certainly hope that it’s successful and that we will be able to continue it. It’s an idea that has seen its time come. We’re growing, we’re a young city, and we’re excited to be a part of it, helping people get around.”

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