// Overnight Transit Service
Overnight bus service fills the transit gap in service to provide job access to late and early shift workers. Many are transit dependent. Boston is a world-class city that never stops working; neither should its transit network.
status: pilot (pHASE 1 - EARLY MORNING)
Next Milestone: Pilot (Phase 2 - OVERNIGHT)
What is NightBus?
When we saw the writing on the wall for Late Night service, we started working on a way to make overnight transit service a reality. In March of this year, we announced our vision of overnight bus service (more details here - our Commonwealth Magazine article here).
Shortly after, the MBTA FMCB reviewed our proposal. We have been working with the T ever since on what service would look like and more accurate cost estimates. The numbers we arrived at are in the ballpark of our estimates of how much it costs the T to shut down every night (the T has contested our estimate and Board Member Jim Aloisi responded).
Our latest plan establishes a network of buses that form a backbone of transit for our service industry workers and increasing 'round the clock activity in Greater Boston.
Designed for Low-Income Workers
- Primary users: airport, hospital, office, restaurant customers & employees
- All shifts accessible; many 5AM shifts
- Service within 1 mile of most dense areas
Useful, Easy to Operate, Cost Effective
- Meaningful service at low cost
- Efficient coverage with only 10-15 buses
- Timed connections at Copley Sq
- Complements existing early bird trips
Measurable & Expandable
- Phased service plan for future growth (ex. Lynn, Quincy)
- Easy to add routes, increase frequency
- Peer cities run every 30 minutes all night
- October 30 2017 - The FMCB voted to pilot the overnight portion of the NightBus Proposal!
- August 14 2017 - The FMCB approves the extending early morning bus routes as a portion of NightBus!
- July 31 2017 — The FMCB is shown the pilot proposal sponsored by the Cities of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville and Transitmatters.
- September 2016 — MBTA FMCB directed staff to survey for demand/interest in overnight transit service
- October 2016 — We met regularly with MBTA, City of Boston, City of Cambridge staff to draft the survey questions
- Nov-Dec 2016 — MBTA, City of Boston, City of Cambridge, and TransitMatters volunteers distributed and shared the survey; City of Boston and Cambridge also worked to survey employers and collect other sources of information about existing overnight travel in the region
- January 2017 — MBTA data team processed survey results and data from other sources to paint a picture of overnight travel needs
- Late February 2017 — MBTA adopted a transit pilot proposal policy. Survey results and data were presented to the MBTA FMCB.
- March - July 2017 — We worked regularly with the MBTA and the cities of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville to draft a pilot proposal for Overnight Service.
- July 31st, 2017 — The Cities of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, and Transitmatters present our pilot proposal to the MBTA FMCB
MBTA staff presented an analysis of the overnight service demand survey and additional data on Monday, 06th February 2017.
MBTA staff presented our plan to the Fiscal Management and Control Board on Monday, 26th September 2016.
At the FMCB Meeting, some of our local and state reps, our allies, and our neighbours spoke in support of our plan.
The MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board hear a presentation and discuss the future of our plan.
Our thoughts on the progress made in the FMCB meeting.
2017 October 31 — The FMCB yesterday agreed to advance the Overnight Transit Service pilot program sponsored by TransitMatters, Boston, Revere, Chelsea, Cambridge and Somerville. The service, called NightBus, is structured to provide transit service to the nearly 50 thousand workers who leave jobs between 1am and 4 am.
The FMCB decided to delay final approval of the pilot to determine how to implement Nightbus in the most cost-effective manner.
The options that will be considered include:
Private Operators servicing the route via a RFP.
Utilizing MassPort "Sunrise Service & Longwood Medical Area shuttles to service the routes in the early morning hours.
Seeing if private operators could utilize shorter buses to reduce the cost of operation.
Working with Carmen's Union to utilize part time employees to service the route at a reduced cost.
The Chair of the FMCB also set a target date of July 2018 (FY19) for it to be implemented.
TransitMatters is committed to seeing NightBus through to implementation. Nightbus is on the Horizon!
Could the MBTA run overnight bus routes? Some advocates say yes.
Nicole Dungca | Boston Globe
MBTA Leadership Eyes Collaboration with Boston on Night Bus
Michael Norton | State House News Service | WGBH
Late-Night on the MBTA Is Dead. Can NightBus Resurrect It?
Spencer Buell | Boston Magazine
MBTA dithering on late night service
Matthew Robare | Urban Liberty
The MBTA Wants to Know if You Want Late-Night Bus Service
Spencer Buell | Boston Magazine
MBTA Survey to Measure Demand for Regional Overnight Bus Service
MBTA Press Release
MBTA survey aims to clarify demand for late night bus service
WFXT Fox 25 Boston