The MBTA is considering providing limited overnight bus service to replace the late night subway service it discontinued due to high costs.
The bus plan floated by the advocacy group TransitMatters is deceptively simple: Run eight bus lines in and out of the city, all meeting every hour in Copley Square where riders can transfer. And, proponents say, the T could do it for about $1 million a year.
But MBTA Deputy Chief Operating Officer Charles Planck analyzed the proposal and says it would cost three to four times that. Mostly because it would require more buses on the road than previously planned.
"Our estimate of the runtime means that we'll have to use two buses," Planck said. "In that sense, we're adding a significant number of cost to what the advocates had originally estimated."
The advocates behind the plan have offered variations—less frequent service or fewer stops—to keep costs manageable.
After the flak it received after the failure of late-night T service earlier this year, the control board is taking a cautious view when it comes to planning major changes to service. The board decided to put off any major decision on this until more planning can be done.
Also at the meeting, everyone's favorite line of streetcar trolleys, the Green Line, went under the microscope before the board.
The Green Line is the nation's busiest light-rail line and parts of it have been around since the 1800s.
The Green Line's managers are trying to get more accurate data on how many people actually ride the line so they can plan service improvements.
The biggest complaint many trolley riders have is usually about crowding on the streetcars. T Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville said a number of efforts, like berthing more than one train in stations, are going toward making trains come more frequently, which will help reduce crowding.
"I don't think that there is an easy answer to answer that question of how we can immediately add capacity to the Green Line," Gonneville said.
A lot of the Green Line's problems stem from the ancient electrical system it runs on. Just this weekend a power failure caused much of the T system to go dark.
There are improvements to come, Gonneville said. Now that the Government Center station is complete, the T is looking at renovating the Hines stop in the Back Bay and expect new Green Line cars to come with the expansion of service to Medford.