On that midnight train to Allston

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • December 5, 2013

At issue: T plans to stay open later on weekends

Our take: Let’s open the floodgates, and ride the train late night

Soon, you’ll be able to close the Uber app. Delete Boston Taxi from your contacts—it’s not like they ever pick up anyway. And stop squabbling over how to split the cab fare.

With the MBTA’s plan to extend weekend hours for the subway starting in the spring, the monetary benefit of late night commuters is perhaps the most alluring. As it is now, if you live in Allston, as many Emerson upperclassmen do, and stay for last call at Sweetwater, it can cost you more than $20 to get home. However, with the later-running T service, it may only cost $2.50—saving you a pretty penny, or buying you four more Budweisers.

But it’s not all about the money. Oftentimes when leaving a party in Cambridge or even getting drinks at a hip South End tavern, it’s exceptionally difficult to hail a taxi late at night. Sometimes, the nearest main street is a 10 minute walk—which at 2 a.m. in the New England winter is far from delightful—and even then, the chances of getting a cab are often akin to getting tickets to see the Ron Burgundy press conference in the Tufte.

Now, thanks to Gov. Deval Patrick’s approved transportation plans, these quandaries will finally come to an end. 

Further, the T’s planned extra hours could have a major impact for Emerson students, nearly half of whom live off-campus. Many an event has been dampened when its invitees realize there wouldn’t be enough time before they would need to leave and catch the last T—and decide not to go at all. It’s hard enough for our community, strewn from Jamaica Plain to Central Square, to gather in this campus’ limited real estate. More time for students to traverse the subway network would further opportunities for weekend parties in apartments and dorms.

This might also compel Boston to allow its bars to open at least as late as the T. Other cities like Chicago and New York allow liquor-serving establishments to open as late as 4 a.m., but restaurants in this otherwise-vibrant college town are legally mandated to stop serving alcohol by 2 a.m.—one hour after the final train leaves the station. Bars are, of course, only one component of Boston’s nightlife, but some parity between last call and the last T would be welcome.

It would also be another notch on Boston’s belt, another reason to call this metropolis world-class. Because public transportation is so popular here, its service hours inevitably influence the city’s waking hours. So even though Boston residents have always considered their home to be among the great American cities, that the streets are quiet and empty so early compared to our urban peers belies our town’s supposed status. Having the T run later would only add to the moonlight spirit that truly makes a city.