The MBTA’s late-night service is on the chopping block. The service may not be renewed past its June 19th end date.

From a purely practical standpoint it is easy to argue cutting the service. The monies, which fund it could, instead, be targeted toward fixing the multiple problems made evident throughout this brutal snow season. By now, everybody understands that it will take more than pickaxes and employee commitment to keep the trains on the tracks. There is no getting around it-- It will cost a lot to ensure the aging system can provide overall reliable and effective service.  And then there’s the millions of dollars in debt. Governor Charlie Baker has now proposed 187 million to address the expensive repair, and maintenance issues. But, even if the legislature signs off, it won’t be enough to get the Green line out of the red.

So why do I want us to pay for the late night service? Because it has proven to be more than the sum of its parts. What started as an experiment last March has quickly become a popular feature. The 13 million dollar pilot program, extending key subway routes and bus service, has provided about 1.1 one million rides. The service offers economic transportation for late night workers, and accessible no car travel for Friday and Saturday night partyers. It’s a win for Boston restaurants, theaters, and nightclubs. And, late night service has also provided something else—an energy, a vibe that says Boston is both Old Ironsides and up all night.

Keeping late night service is money well spent. It is no longer an experiment, and it should no longer be considered a perk. Like me you don’t have to use the service to understand that it represents much more than a few extended hours of late night trains. Boston simply cannot run with the big guys without providing public transportation equal to that of other big city players. There is no world-class city that I know of that shuts its public transit down just past midnight.

During the height of the February storms, T riders left stranded by bad or non-existent service effectively vented their anger; their voices got heard. As a result, the T’s Board is considering discounts, or even a free day of ridership to compensate for leaving those customers in the freezing cold for days on end.  The Board wisely realizes that compensating T customers in a small way is indeed an investment in the future of the system. As is keeping the late night service.

In a Twitter town hall last week, riders told T officials they wanted the late night service to be permanent and supported a surcharge for late  service. And Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack has said she wants to hear more from the public.

Later this afternoon the MBTA will hold the first of three public meetings scheduled this week about the late-night service.  Make your voice heard. Go tell them we can’t afford NOT to fund the service.