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Lawmaker finds few good alternatives to late-night T

The MBTA, looking to cut costs in the midst of its never-ending budget woes, ended its late-night T service. Kieran Kesner for the Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

The deed was done.

The MBTA, looking to cut costs in the midst of its never-ending budget woes, had announced the end of late-night T service.

But advocates were pressing for meaningful relief for the low-income restaurant and hotel workers who have relied on the service. And state Representative Adrian Madaro, a freshman lawmaker from East Boston, had a clever idea — OK, a slightly gimmicky idea — for adding to the pressure.

On one of the last nights of late night service, he would take the subway from the Back Bay to the Orient Heights Blue Line station in East Boston, timing it and registering the cost.


Then he’d make the same trip, starting at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Dartmouth Street, by taxi and by Lyft, the ride-hailing service, gaming out some of the alternatives after late-night subway rides came to an end.

The subway ride was smooth: 24 minutes and 31 seconds at $2.65. The train, he said, was filled with workers, many of them Latino immigrants, returning home after the late shift.

For those making the minimum wage of $10 per hour, he figured, it would take 16 minutes of work to pay for the fare.

The Lyft trip took 20 minutes and 42 seconds by Madaro’s count at a cost of $16.49, including tip. That’s one hour and 39 minutes of work for the minimum-wage worker.

The first cabbie Madaro approached refused to trek all the way out to East Boston. The second got him to Orient Heights in 22 minutes and 21 seconds for $20.20, including tip. That’s two hours and two minutes of labor.

It’s all spelled out in a nifty infographic Madaro produced — gotta have an infographic. But the state representative, a Democrat, said the end of late-night T service is a real hardship for East Boston workers. “This is just a huge, unnecessary burden on their lives,” he said.


Yes, he acknowledged, low-wage workers are more likely to carpool than hail a taxi. But vehicle ownership and parking come with their own costs and hassles. And East Boston workers have to come up with some solution. After all, the harbor stands between their homes and the job-rich downtown.

David Scharfenberg can be reached at david.scharfenberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe