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Your thoughts wanted on late night service, and big changes on the Blue Line

Posted by Nichole Davis  March 2, 2013 02:45 PM

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Wouldn't it be nice to be able to ride the T just a little bit later at night?

There's a survey going around that's trying to gauge just how many of you are actually behind that idea -- and just how much you'd be willing to pay for it.

The survey, backed by the MBTA Rider Oversight Committee, is relatively comprehensive. It's being conducted solely by the committee -- not the MBTA. The committee says they're simply trying to gather data in order to present a report to the T at some point to show the need for extended service in the city.

Not only does the survey ask which method of transportation you'd be willing to use, but it even breaks down your answers to the day of the week that you would prefer train and bus service to be extended. You're also asked which stations you would be most likely to use the service at during the overnight hours, and what would keep you out there so late (work, school, partying, no particular reason, etc.).

Another interesting area of information that they're looking to gather is just how long you'd be willing to wait for service during the late night hours - they're even curious to see if you would be willing to wait an hour between trains or buses. Cash also comes up in the survey -- they're curious to see just how much you'd be willing to shell out to use a late night bus or train. The options run from your normal service fare up to "over $14.00" - which, as much as I enjoy the idea of late night service, I don't exactly think will be an option.

As we discussed relatively recently, the return of late-night service isn't looking too good for the MBTA, at least not anytime in the near future. Many excuses have been given over the years since the loss of the Night Owl service - tracks need to be free for repairs, busing wasn't profitable, and there's just no money considering the T's in a significant fiscal bind. MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo told BostInno that:

“Given the enormous strain on the MBTA’s limited resources, the Authority cannot even consider an extension of service hours before action is taken on the ‘21st Century Transportation Plan.’”

By the way, that transportation plan is still under some severe scrutiny in both the House and Senate -- and some members in the House as of late are considering cutting transportation out of the Governor's new budget completely. Mattapoisett Representative William Straus, who is the House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation, told the State House News Service that a completely separate transportation funding bill might sit with the legislature a little easier. It might also provide more guaranteed funding for transportation purposes:

“The financing method for transportation works best when there’s a connection or a nexus to the users or those who benefit from the transportation system... My preference is that we finance it in a way that essentially locks the money up for transportation.”

So, we'll have to see how all of that pans out. For the time being, you can make your voice heard and take the survey here.

According to their website (which, according to a recent update, is apparently somewhat out of date), the MBTA Rider Oversight Committee consists of MBTA employees, riders and advocates. They are completely independent from the actual MBTA, but they do work closely with the agency. Their main focus is to gather information about the quality of service from riders, and pass on their findings to the T. They hold public meetings monthly. If you'd like to attend the next meeting of the Rider Oversight Committee, it will be held on March 18th at 10 Park Plaza in Boston.

What are your thoughts on this latest push for late night service? Do you think it will be effective? Would you be a regular user of late night trains and buses?
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Are you a regular rider of the commuter rail or commuter boat? Do you normally like to utilize the on-board WiFi, but sometimes find that it's not exactly up to snuff?

The MBTA says now that the system is proving to be popular, they want to take it to the next level. They put out a press release on Friday announcing the search for a new provider to expand the WiFi service they already have. According to the release, they're hoping to put upgrades in place to get the networks up to a "state of the art standard".

They're also hoping to do it without laying out a single dime for the project.

The T says that the winning bidder would be given full access to the entire MBTA system to put their new infrastructure in. The chosen company would also be part of a sponsorship program, which would include free advertising in stations and on cars, as well as on maps, schedules, and the T's website, among other areas. This, according to General Manager Beverly Scott:

“The opportunity to have sponsorship of our WIFI service will aid in our goal of bringing a high-quality WIFI experience to our customers throughout the commuter rail system without the MBTA or our riders incurring any cost for it. It really is a win-win.”

The T says they're hoping to have bidders in place by this fall, and they're expecting to start rolling out the system through the winter and into 2014.
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MBTA Matters

Blue Line riders, if you normally use the Orient Heights station as your start or end point during your daily journeys, you should know that it's about to get more difficult to do so for the coming months.

Starting on March 23rd, the Orient Heights station will shut down completely so crews can start doing intensive maintenance. The MBTA is working on completely rehabbing and upgrading the station. However, this project will take several months -- the T is expecting this to be the case until October.

There are several options in place for you to access Blue Line service in the time being:

  • A shuttle bus will run between Orient Heights and Suffolk Downs stations. You can find the bus in the Walley Street busway at Suffolk Downs, and that will take you to the Orient Heights station. If you're planning on starting your journey at Orient Heights, buses will be waiting at the Bennington Street busway to take you to the Suffolk Downs station.
  • If you normally utilize the 712 and 713 bus routes from Point Shirley to Orient Heights, you can use the stops at Saint Edwards Road and Saratoga Street to access the Orient Heights neighborhood. You can access the bus line at the Wood Island stop on the Blue Line during the week, or at the Airport stop on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • The 120 bus route will not be affected by the Orient Heights construction.

    If you normally park at Orient Heights, that won't be a problem - the T says that the lot will still be open but you can only access it via Saratoga Street. If you find a problem with parking at Orient Heights, there's also parking at Beachmont and Wonderland.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Nichole Davis is a Boston-based traffic reporter and news anchor. She’s been seen and heard on television and radio airwaves across New England since 2003, providing commuters with all the More »

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