Greater safety risks on late-night trains? Not so, T says

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Governor Deval Patrick, and Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey announce the launch date for the MBTA’s new late-night service outside Kendall Station.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Governor Deval Patrick, and Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey announce the launch date for the MBTA’s new late-night service outside Kendall Station.
(David L Ryan/Globe Staff)

Nothing good happens after 10 p.m., the saying goes. (Or, if you’re a fan of TV show “How I Met Your Mother,” it’s 2 in the morning: “When it’s after 2 a.m., just go to sleep,” narrates the future version of the main character, Ted, repeating his mother’s advice, “because the decisions you make after 2 a.m. are the wrong decisions.”)

But it turns out that might not be true on the T.

For years, the potential for unsavory late-night shenanigans had been held up as a reason why the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority would be wise to refrain from extending hours on the subway and bus system — and since T officials announced in December that the agency would embark on a one-year pilot to provide service until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, even more concerns have been raised.

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In fact, at this month’s press conference in Kendall Square announcing the March 28 premiere date, it was one of the first questions asked of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh: How did he intend to handle the potential for crime?

I asked Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey about those same safety concerns. There will be increased transit police presence, he said, and Davey also hoped that security cameras on trains and buses would also serve as a deterrent.

But, he offered one caveat: The idea that crime increases on the T at night is a total myth. In fact, he said, most crime on the T occurs in the late afternoon, as people are getting out of school and jobs.

I wasn’t convinced.

But it turns out, Davey’s right. According to the MBTA Transit Police, the largest number of crimes in 2014 so far occurred between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. — 34 reported crimes, or about 30 percent. There were 28 reported crimes between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and 19 crimes between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m.

But what about the potential for other brands of late-night mishap? There are crimes — and then there are, shall we say, lapses in decorum (and balance) that come after a night out on the town. Case in point: People falling off subway platforms. Surely, those must largely be a nighttime occurrence?

The MBTA does not keep a record of how many people have fallen onto the tracks in recent years, but after scouring media reports and surveillance videos uploaded by the T, I found at least 13 incidents of people falling from subway station platforms onto the tracks since September 2011.

Eight of those incidents occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Only two occurred after 9 p.m.

So, when it comes to safety concerns, forget about the T’s new extended hours — maybe the late afternoon is when passengers must be most on guard?