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Students voice excitement about extended MBTA hours

The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has announced it will extend its late-night services beginning in 2014, an initiative Boston University students feel will benefit them as well as the city of Boston.

Elica Yoneyama, a School of Hospitality Administration senior, said this late-night service option is a productive initiative by the MBTA.

“It’s [Boston] a college town and I don’t see why they [MBTA] didn’t have later transportation before,” Yoneyama said. “We can save money, cabs can really add up … I hope they [MBTA] benefit enough for the program to stick around, it would have definitely changed how much I paid for cabs [in] the past four years.”

This late-night service transportation pilot program will extend the service hours of all of the MBTA’s subway lines and some of its most popular buses until 3 a.m., said MBTA spokeswoman Kelly Smith. The MBTA decided to implement this late-night service based on a large public demand.

Smith said a large part of Boston’s economy is based around late-night businesses. Extending late-night transportation options around the city will make bars and restaurants more accessible for young college students, and thus help Boston continue to grow as a vibrant city.

“There are different groups that have had a voice on this topic with varying reasons,” Smith said. “There’s students who want this mainly for entertainment purposes since there are bars and restaurants that close later in the night, and there’s also the service workers who work at these places who just want to get home at the end of their shift.”

Due to lack of financial support, Smith said the MBTA currently has no plans to permanently expand its service hours after the pilot program ends.

“Financial constraints are something that we always deal with,” Smith said. “We were finally able to come up with a budget and plan and received some financial sponsorship from private vector companies and coming up with that plan has allowed us to explore the pilot program for a one year period.”

Emma Ritcey, a SHA senior, said the City of Boston will not only profit from the late-night transportation services, but become safer for students as well.

“It’ll [extended MBTA service hours] make it [Boston] safer, too, because people won’t have to walk through any of the neighborhoods at night,” Ritcey said. “… It’s [Boston] a college city, and we’re [students] going to be a big part of the people using it [MBTA services] at those hours … and it’s also good for people who work as waiters or bartenders and again, it’s good not to have to walk around past midnight.”

Ritcey said when the MBTA extends its service hours, downtown Boston will become more accessible to BU students. She said more students will feel compelled to go out to bars and restaurants in that area because they will not have to worry about paying for a cab late at night.

“Now I’ll be more likely to go out of walking distance at night since I’ll know the T is open,” Ritcey said. “3 a.m. availability is going to be so nice … I think Boston needs to run into later hours in general.”

Kelly Hou, a fourth-year Metropolitan College graduate student, said she is skeptical as to how much the MBTA will actually profit from this initiative.

“If the T is running late, I can save some money and not be afraid to stay as late as I need to,” Hou said. “… But there’s not always a lot of people out traveling at that time [late at night], so I don’t know if they’ll [MBTA] make a whole lot of money from this.”

Gena Schildt, a Sargent College of Rehabilitation Sciences senior, said the late-night service will not only help students travel home on the weekends, but also during finals seasons as well.

“It’s a good thing, in terms of people going out to parties and bars,” Schildt said. “But, even if you’re just out at Mugar [Memorial Library] that late, and the bus doesn’t take your route or you go further into Allston, it would be a huge benefit especially now in finals season.”

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