Officials unveil extended MBTA service; hope to encourage ‘safe and vibrant’ late-night culture

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh urged people today to take advantage of the MBTA’s new late-night service, slated to begin March 28, as officials unveiled the list of corporate heavy-hitters providing financial support for the pilot project.

Dunkin’ Donuts, the Red Sox, and Suffolk Construction are among the sponsors of the program, which officials are hoping will stimulate a vibrant, late-night scene in Boston.

The corporate sponsors — which also include the Future Boston Alliance, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, streetwear clothing company Karmaloop, and The Boston Globe – were announced at a news conference this morning outside Cambridge’s Kendall Station that featured Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

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The businesses will only provide $1.5 million toward the estimated $16 million to $17 million it will cost the T to provide subway and bus service until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Still, Patrick expressed enthusiasm about the number of sponsors that had come forward so far, and the opportunity for future MBTA partnerships with local businesses.

“This is a new way for us to pay, and [companies] have stepped up in spades,” Patrick said. Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey said he was pleased by the amount of late-night sponsors.

“I think we were happy just to get one, because this is the first time we’ve ever done it before,” Davey said. “By the way,” Davey added, “any other sponsors — there’s still time to get in, for sure!”

Walsh said the latest iteration of late night service would work hand-in-hand with his plans to foster nightlife in Boston, but he emphazied that the success of the pilot would depend on ridership.

“It’s also important for us to spread the word now, because a program like this happened a few years ago and we didn’t have the ridership we need,” Walsh said. “In order to ensure this stays and goes year-round, we need to help the MBTA by encouraging people to take public transportation.”