NIGHTBUS

// Overnight Transit Service

14579042166_50bf2ae402_k.jpg

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) in progress
Next Milestone: Pilot (Phase 2 - OVERNIGHT) BEG. 9/1


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 2017, we announced our vision of overnight bus service (more details here - our Commonwealth Magazine article here).

We have been working with the T ever since on what service would look like and more accurate cost estimates. Our initial plan established a unique network of buses that formed a backbone of transit overnight in Greater Boston. The MBTA then put this plan out for requests for interest, but received no private interest in operating the service due to the sprawling custom route, high operating costs and requirement to use the MBTA's Charlie fare media. It was clear that the MBTA needed to use their own buses on their established routes to offer overnight service.

Through careful dialogue between us and the MBTA's FMCB & service planning staff for the past year, the MBTA ultimately decided on a 2-step approach to offering overnight service:

  1. Extend certain bus routes out by 1 hour during the early morning hours
  2. Extend certain bus routes later in the night & even earlier in the morning to close the overnight transit gap naturally, as well as increasing late night frequency to reduce crowding

Step 1 is being piloted right now and has been highly successful so far.

On June 4, 2018, the MBTA FMCB voted to approve step 2 which is to include 3 components:

  • Extend service into the 2AM hour on:

    • SL1, SL4, 15, 24, 104, 108, 109, 117 and 442
       

  • Add a trip at the "end" of the night on:

    • 34E, 104, 109, 111, 116 and 442
       

  • Improve frequency between 10PM and 12:30AM to alleviate crowding on:

    • 34E, 66, 104, 109, 111, 116, 117 and 442

We are thrilled that the MBTA is committed to "close the gap" in overnight service and bring Boston closer to overnight bus service. Over the next months, we will be working closely with them to ensure the service expansion is legible to riders, equitable and reaches all appropriate rider groups. You can read our media statement here. This is just the beginning for overnight bus service in Greater Boston. Due to the fact that the T is utilizing existing routes, service can easily be added or adjusted on additional routes in the network as the data determines fit. We will be diligently analyzing demand and usage data in consultation with the T to determine which additional routes or specific trips could be piloted.


guiding principles OF NIGHTBUS

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

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

NightBus Timeline

  • June 4 2018 - The FMCB voted to pilot overnight bus service on select routes starting 9/1!
  • October 30 2017 - The FMCB voted to forward 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. 
  • 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.
  • Late February 2017 — MBTA adopted a transit pilot proposal policy. Survey results and data were presented to the MBTA FMCB.
  • January 2017 — MBTA data team processed survey results and data from other sources to paint a picture of overnight travel needs
  • 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
  • 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
  • October 2016 — We met regularly with MBTA, City of Boston, City of Cambridge staff to draft the survey questions
  • September 2016 — MBTA FMCB directed staff to survey for demand/interest in overnight transit service

MBTA staff presented an analysis of the overnight service demand survey and additional data on Monday, 06th February 2017.

Watch the board discussion

MBTA staff presented our plan to the Fiscal Management and Control Board on Monday, 26th September 2016.

Watch the public comments

At the FMCB Meeting, some of our local and state reps, our allies, and our neighbours spoke in support of our plan.

Watch the board discussion

The MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board hear a presentation and discuss the future of our plan.

Read our Statement on NightBus

Our thoughts on the progress made in the FMCB meeting.


News Coverage