Late-night T service will end in Boston by March 19

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BOSTON – After no discussion in a public meeting Monday, the MBTA control board canceled extended-hours weekend service, authorizing the transit agency to end it by March 19.

The extended-hours service, which began as a pilot program in March 2014, impedes efforts to repair tracks overnight, according to Charles Planck, the Assistant General Manager  of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. He spoke about the issue at the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board meeting.

Planck said the late-night weekend service on subway lines and major bus routes has had declining popularity, with roughly 13,000 rides taken per night. He said removing late-night service from the fiscal 2017 budget resulted in $9 million in savings.

After Planck’s presentation, Control Board Chairman Joseph Aiello moved to authorize termination of the service, which was passed without any discussion.

Supporters of late-night service say it’s beneficial to restaurants, bars and others involved in cultivating extended hours commerce, as well as workers in a variety of industries.

On his monthly “Ask the Governor” radio segment, Gov. Charlie Baker, who oversees the MBTA, said earlier this month that the late-night service model tried by the MBTA is “not the answer.”

“Keep in mind first of all that late night is 90 minutes on Friday night and 90 minutes on Saturday night. It has very, very low ridership and it’s hugely expensive to operate,” the governor said.

Asked about a potential alternative model, Baker said, “That’s the conversation we probably ought to have.” He said, “I have my own ideas. Well, we’ll share them with you at some point. But a lot of other people have ideas about this too, not just me.”

Written by Andy Metzger