Beginning Oct. 2, the last train running to Providence from Boston’s South Station on the Providence/Stoughton line will depart at 11:55 p.m., according to a Sept. 11 announcement from the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Authority and Keolis Commuter Services, the company that operates MBTA trains. The last train on the line currently departs at 11:00 p.m.
“The extension of late-night service has by far been the most requested change from both passengers and the communities across the commuter rail service area,” Emma DeGrandi, stakeholder engagement specialist for Keolis, wrote in an email to The Herald.
Since schedule adjustments occur every spring and fall, it is not yet confirmed that the change will be permanent, according to DeGrandi. Currently, the final commuter rail train from Boston departs South Station at 11:00 p.m. and arrives at Providence Station at 12:13 a.m. Other train services like Amtrak offer a faster trip but rarely offer service past 8:00 p.m. With the new schedule, the current MBTA 11:00 p.m. train will still run in addition to the 11:55 p.m. train.
For students who regularly make the trip to and from Boston for concerts, athletic events, travel or leisure, the extension could facilitate easier late-night travel and reduce anxiety about catching the last train back to Providence, three students told The Herald.
Last Friday, hundreds of Brown students made the trek to Boston for the Harvard vs. Brown football game, many via commuter rail. With the close game stretching late into the night and the last train departing at 11 p.m., the journey back was chaotic for Sophie Marcus-Wade ’25.
“On the way back, I didn’t make the train. It was really apocalyptic,” Marcus-Wade said, explaining that she took Boston’s T back to South Station. “We get to South Station, and the doors open, and then everyone just runs. Like, booking it out of the train into the station. Very zombie movie. Very ‘Train to Busan.’ Super stressful.”
Marcus-Wade added that her group left the game early at around 9:45 p.m. in hopes of making the last train.
For future sporting events in Boston, the extended late-night service could ease the travel process and allow students to attend these events with greater peace of mind, Marcus-Wade said.
Beyond sporting events, many University students depend on regular train service to and from Boston for a variety of professional and leisurely reasons.
“I go to Boston pretty often; around once a week,” said former Herald copy editor Evangeline Bilger ’23.5. “A lot of my friends moved there after graduation.”
Shannon Feerick-Hillenbrand ’26 noted she has gone to Boston a total of four times in the past year, not including airport visits. “One of my good friends, his girlfriend lives in Boston, so he goes every two weeks,” she said.
Feerick-Hillenbrand said they felt the MBTA is a “very chill” and reliable system to use. But Feerick-Hillenbrand and Bilger agreed the commuter rail’s schedule would ideally be expanded.
“One of the frustrating things about taking the train is that (the) later it gets, (the train) starts going in two-hour intervals,” Bilger said. With trains running so infrequently late at night, one misstep can lead to a derailed trip.
As a first-year, Bilger accidentally got on the train to Stoughton, Massachusetts instead of Providence. While the two lines share many of the same stops initially, the train to Stoughton ends there, with no opportunity to continue on to Providence. “They kicked me off the train and then I was alone in this deserted station,” she said. “All there was was just a shack across the way that was blasting heavy metal music. And my phone was at 3%. So I had to call an Uber and hope that it would get me there.”
A later train “would definitely be helpful,” Bilger added.
But for those looking to explore Boston’s nightlife, Feerick-Hillenbrand said that the trains would likely need to run even later: “11:55 doesn’t make much of a difference when most people get to parties at 11.”