The days of the Night Owl bus service are long gone, and as of now, they may not return.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said until the state implements Gov. Deval Patrick’s recent 21st Century Plan transportation budget roll out, late night service is out of the question.
“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,” Pesaturo wrote in an email.
The Night Owl bus service, which ran buses from the end of service at 1 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., existed between 2001 and 2005, but was too costly to maintain. Another major issue working against late night service is the short time it allows for crews to perform critical track maintenance, according to Pesaturo.
In the 2012 Massachusetts Department of Transportation film “Boston Under: After Hours,” one segment explains that from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., crews perform maintenance on tracks while service is shut down.
That hasn’t stopped T riders from pushing for late service.
Though there are no plans now, the door remains open to future late-night service. Bostinno.com reported Jan. 22 that at least some MassDOT were considering a plan if new funding could be found.
“The MBTA is investigating providing service beyond our current 1 a.m. schedule on a pilot basis where there is ridership demand,” according to a statement from MassDOT officials on Bostinno. “If additional operating funds are identified, major bus routes and the most heavily traveled portions of the subway and light rail systems will be considered for extra service.”