Low-Income MBTA Fares Back On Track With Budget Directive

WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (State House News Service) – More than two years after the last legislative push died and with multiple MBTA analyses already complete, the long campaign to roll out a low-income fare option at the T took a significant step forward Monday.

Lawmakers earmarked money to begin moving toward a cheaper fare option for some riders as part of a $56.2 billion fiscal year 2024 budget they sent to Gov. Maura Healey, a bill that also features hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending on the T, regional transit authorities and other transportation infrastructure…

The Public Transit Public Good coalition, which has suggested that lower-income riders could save up to $500 per year from a discounted fare option, praised lawmakers for supporting the latest measure. Coalition co-chair Lee Matsueda called it “a significant victory.”

“We need this discounted fare for low-income riders. Many riders struggled to afford bus and train fares even before the pandemic,” MBTA rider Mitikei Chengerei said in a press release circulated by the coalition. “Structural racism and economic exploitation have created deep inequalities in Massachusetts, disproportionately impacting communities of color and working families who rely on transport to get to school, work, and medical appointments. This investment will provide us with much-needed respite.”

Read the full article at WBZ News Radio.

Historic $5M state investment in MBTA to help low-income riders access affordable public transit in Massachusetts

Boston – In a landmark vote, the Massachusetts legislature has allocated $5 million to fund a means-tested MBTA fare system for low-income riders in the state. This milestone achievement marks a significant step towards ensuring equitable and accessible public transportation for all residents. The approved state budget for FY2024 will now head to Governor Maura Healey for her final approval within the next 10 days.

The investment comes as a result of years of relentless campaigning by the rider and labor groups allied in the Public Transit Public Good coalition, who championed the cause for affordable public transportation together with a broad group of transportation advocates.

“We need this discounted fare for low-income riders. Many riders struggled to afford bus and train fares even before the pandemic. Structural racism and economic exploitation have created deep inequalities in Massachusetts, disproportionately impacting communities of color and working families who rely on transport to get to school, work, and medical appointments. This investment will provide us with much-needed respite,” said Mitikei Chengerei, a resident who has actively advocated for the cause.

Nearly half of MBTA’s ridership comprises low-income riders and riders of color. More than 60,000 riders could benefit as a result of this investment, putting as much as $500 back into each low-income rider’s pocket. 

“Low-income fare for the City of Chelsea is of utmost importance to ensure we combat environmental racism and promote accessible, affordable, and reliable public transportation,” said Kati Cabral, a Chelsea resident and School Committee member (District 5).

This significant investment is receiving enthusiastic support from transit advocates. They believe it’s a crucial step to support communities in need and promote economic mobility.

However, the fight is far from over. Supporters are also calling on legislators to go one step further and pass H.3373/S.2231, An Act Establishing a Program for Low-Income Fares. This vital legislation will require the MBTA to permanently provide reduced fares to low-income riders, solidifying the Low-Income Fare Program and making affordable public transportation a permanent fixture for those who need it most.

“This investment is a significant victory, and we must keep pushing forward. We urge legislators to pass H.3373/S.2231, ensuring a lasting positive impact on the lives of low-income riders and essential workers in Massachusetts,” said  Lee Matsueda, Co-Chair of Public Transit Public Good, Executive Director of Community Labor United.  

This momentous decision is not just about transportation; it is a testament to the power of community organizing and  advocacy for a more equitable future in Massachusetts.

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About Public Transit Public Good Coalition: 

Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit publictransitpublicgood.org to learn more.

MBTA Board approves new operating budget that includes $5M to establish a reduced fare program for low-income riders

“We are thrilled to see the MBTA commit to launching a low-income fare program! Last week, the Board approved a new operating budget that includes $5 million to establish a reduced fare program for low-income riders. 

Our thanks to members of the Board, MBTA staff, and the Healey Administration for your commitment to creating a transit system that prioritizes affordability and accessibility for all people. 

We will continue to fight for legislation to ensure a low-income fare is available to riders who need it for generations to come.”

— Public Transit Public Good Coalition 

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About Public Transit Public Good Coalition: 

Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit publictransitpublicgood.org to learn more.

Edwards: Low-income T fares a fair deal for Mass. workers

Every day, hardworking Massachusetts residents face a difficult dilemma: pay for transportation to get to work or afford basic necessities. This is an unfair and unnecessary burden on those who contribute to the economic prosperity of the state. On this International Workers Day, it’s time to take action and make public transportation affordable for our workers with a low-income fare at the MBTA.

Unfortunately, Massachusetts has been trending in the opposite direction. For years, the cost of riding the MBTA has increased at a much faster rate than the cost of driving, and recent reports suggest that driving in Boston may actually be cheaper than taking public transit. The Massachusetts legislature can reverse this trend by passing legislation that establishes a permanent low-income fare program and ensures funding for a low-income fare in the Commonwealth’s FY24 Budget.

Read the full article at Boston Herald.

MBTA staff present plans for Low-Income Fare implementation, signal affordability as new budget priority

BOSTON Transit riders and workers, community leaders, and members of the Public Transit Public Good (PTPG) coalition joined forces to speak out for the implementation of a low-income fare system during the MBTA’s Board Meeting on Thursday, March 23. 

At the meeting, MBTA staff presented a plan to “develop and launch” a low-income fare program over the next fiscal year. Governor Healey has included $5 million of Fair Share Amendment revenue in her recommended Commonwealth budget. The Authority’s preliminary budget presentation included the low-income fare program in a list of new and recent priorities.

The urgent need for a low-income fare program was underscored by the MBTA’s first update to its federally required rider survey since 2017, which showed large increases to the proportion of riders who are low-income and who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). 

Systemwide, the percentage of low-income riders increased to 48% from 29%, and the percentage of BIPOC riders increased to 58% from 34%. The adoption of a reduced-fare program is necessary to ensure affordability and mobility for these riders. 

“Fare revenues are one of the most regressive forms of funding, meaning that the people who can least afford it are carrying an outsize burden when it comes to the costs of running the MBTA,” said Sara Arman, Director of Health Equity & Policy at GreenRoots. “This is fundamentally inequitable along lines of both race and income. The answer is to lessen the burden on low-income riders with a low-income fare and improve service and safety to ensure the MBTA is an attractive and efficient option for all people.”

Testimony from today’s meeting included public support from MBTA riders and community leaders. Read their important messages below:

“We must implement a low-income fare for all MBTA riders. The public supports it, and the governor and many legislators in the state house have expressed their support. The T must make this a priority in their budget this year and see it as an opportunity to build on the discounted fare programs that are critical like the senior/disability pass, the student pass, and the youth pass program,” said Lee Matsueda, Executive Director at Community Labor United and a co-chair of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition

Matsueda continued his testimony: “We’re talking about 60,000 families saving over $30M! This is about racial justice, it’s about the right to access and mobility, it’s about having pride in a public transit system that is working to rebuild trust with the riding public.”

“Low-income and transit-dependent riders from the T Riders Union, and members of the Public Transit Public Good coalition, urgently call for a solution to a critical issue. Imagine having no other means of reaching your destination than public transportation, and yet being unable to afford the fares. This should never be a choice that any person should have to make. For low-income riders, it could mean sacrificing food, healthcare, or education for their children, or even resorting to sneaking their kids onto public transport,” said Mela Bush-Miles, Transit-oriented Development Director at Alternatives for Community and Environment. “The solution is clear: pass a low-income fare. By making public transportation more affordable, we can provide a lifeline for those who need it most.”

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About Public Transit Public Good Coalition: 

Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit publictransitpublicgood.org to learn more.

Rider And Worker Coalition Release Statement Following Appointment Of New MBTA General Manager

BOSTON – The Public Transit Public Good coalition, a partnership of transit rider and worker organizations, released a statement welcoming Phillip Eng to his new role as General Manager (GM) of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and provided the following statement:

“We look forward to working with GM Eng to ensure accessible and affordable service, good jobs, and safety for riders and workers at the MBTA. 

We are optimistic that new leadership focused on advancing the public good bodes well for the future of the MBTA and the profoundly important role the MBTA plays in the economy and well-being of our region. 

Over recent decades, cuts and privatization have led to decline in quality of services for riders. We are hopeful that the new GM will address the MBTA’s pressing challenges by listening to the voices of communities reliant on its services and by listening to the workers who keep our system running.” 

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About Public Transit Public Good Coalition:
Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit PublicTransitPublicGood.org to learn more.

$5 million to advance low-income fare in Healey budget key to improving accessibility and affordability for all MBTA riders

BOSTON Public Transit Public Good coalition issued the following statement on the recently proposed budget that includes funding to advance a low-income fare at the MBTA:

“The Public Transit Public Good coalition is encouraged that Governor Healey has included $5 million in her budget to advance a low-income fare at the MBTA. This funding proposal is an important step forward in creating a public transit system that is accessible to all, regardless of people’s income level.

“For too many Massachusetts residents, the cost of public transit is a significant financial burden, making it difficult to access basic necessities such as school, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, etc. A low-income fare will provide people with a more affordable option for transportation, allowing them to save money and improve their quality of life. By including funding for a low-income fare program in her budget, Governor Healey is helping us take the next steps to create a more safe, equitable, and accessible transportation system for all riders.

“A low-income fare for the MBTA has widespread support across the Commonwealth and is a priority for the thousands of riders and transit workers represented by the Public Transit Public Good coalition. We look forward to working with Governor Healey, legislators, and MBTA officials to ensure a low-income fare is available to qualified riders on all modes.”

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About Public Transit Public Good Coalition:
Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit PublicTransitPublicGood.org to learn more.

3 steps for turning around the MBTA

CommonWealth Magazine

Month-long shutdowns, frequent and serious accidents, a fire on the Orange Line, debilitating worker shortages, and a system so dysfunctional that it was facing takeover by the federal government — all of these events illustrate the systemwide crisis at the MBTA.

With a new administration on the horizon, however, our hopes are high for real and lasting change. On the campaign trail, Gov.-elect Maura Healey shared a vision for transportation that foregrounds equity and safety. As she and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll take office, there are three steps they can take right away to begin making that vision a reality.

Read the full op-ed at CommonWealth Magazine.

Who is paying for all of the ads about ‘millionaires tax’ ballot question? What we know

On Tuesday, proponents of Yes on Question 1 ‒ MBTA Workers for Yes on 1, Public Transit Public Good and Riders, Workers and Commuters United for Transit Justice ‒ rallied with riders, workers, union officials and politicians to urge passage of the ballot initiative.

“This is a top priority for us,” said Steven Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. He called it an opportunity for the state’s wealthiest residents to invest in the future of the state. “It’s important for transportation, it’s important for public education; these are the hallmarks of a successful commonwealth.”


Read the full article at Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Rep. Adrian Madaro, Sen. Lydia Edwards, and MBTA riders and workers rally for Yes on 1

Rep. Adrian Madaro, Sen. Lydia Edwards, and MBTA riders and workers rally for Yes on 1

Based on the findings of a new report, workers and riders affirmed that voting Yes on 1 could provide necessary funding to aid the MBTA’s burgeoning safety crisis 

BOSTON — As the crisis at the MBTA mounts ahead of the November elections, transit riders, workers, and allies rallied at Faneuil Hall on October 25 to call for a better future for Massachusetts public transit with the passage of Question 1 on the November ballot.

Riders, workers, and allies including Rep. Adrian Madaro and Sen. Lydia Edwards, rallied on the heels of a new report detailing that Question 1, known as the Fair Share Amendment, could pay for much-needed safety-related work and provide a stable funding source for the MBTA, making it safer and fairer for decades to come. If passed, Question 1 will create new funding for public education and transportation by requiring the rich to pay their fair share in taxes.

“Just a portion of the funds from this Amendment could provide the much-needed support to ensure the MBTA can pay for the preventative maintenance, repair, and inspections necessary to keep it running smoothly,” said Collique Williams, Senior Organizer, Community Labor United, and Member, Public Transit Public Good coalition. “By passing this initiative, we can fund the MBTA more fairly, and create the safe and well-maintained transit system the region needs.”

This funding is urgently needed as MBTA riders continue to face disastrous accidents, insufficient service, painfully slow trains, and shutdowns of key train routes. The report finds that Question 1 could provide a dedicated source of funds for maintenance and repair, keeping workers and riders secure while reducing pressure for the MBTA to cut service or raise fares in order to fund safety initiatives.

“The reality is, working families need to get to work on time, and they need to get their kids to medical appointments and school. We have to invest in the safety of riders. Voting Yes on Question 1 will make the MBTA safer and more fair,” said Representative Adrian Madaro.

“Public transportation is one of the few things that connect all of us regardless of our backgrounds,” said Senator Lydia Edwards. “The ability to move in a clean, efficient, timely way is necessary for our society, our state, and our economy to grow. Yes on 1 will ensure that we have the funds to continue to move in a direction that is equitable, diverse, and works for all of us.”

The new report by PTPG Coalition also reveals that nearly 60% of the MBTA is funded by sales taxes. With this funding structure, low-income families pay more in sales tax as a percentage of the household budget compared to wealthier households. The Fair Share Amendment would tax annual income over $1 million at a higher rate, and the resulting revenue could be used to fund the MBTA. 

“During the orange line shutdown, it would take me close to two hours to get from Wakefield to Chelsea, and my new route would include a combination of local buses, walking, and shuttle buses,” said Mitikei Chengerei, a member of Chelsea-based GreenRoots. “The MBTA is a public good, and it should be reliable, affordable, and accessible to all communities. That’s why voting yes on Question 1 on November 8 will be vital for the future of the MBTA.”

The Fair Share Amendment is expected to generate $2 billion in new revenue, and workers, riders, and community leaders affirmed on Tuesday that it could provide a critical opportunity to get the MBTA on track through long-term, sustainable funding.

“Whether you ride the MBTA every day or not, we’re all in this together,” said Jim Evers, President of Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589. “Operators are dealing with a system that for far too long has been underfunded and sometimes ignored. We need better funding for the MBTA so we can safely do our jobs and keep Boston moving.” 

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About the Public Transit Public Good Coalition: 

Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit publictransitpublicgood.org to learn more.

Background on Question 1: the Fair Share Amendment:The Fair Share Amendment – Question 1 on the November ballot – will allow Massachusetts to improve our transportation and public education systems by making the very rich pay their fair share. Thousands of educators, workers, small business owners, parents, faith leaders, municipal officials, drivers and transit riders, and more than 350 organizations across the state are working together to pass Question 1. Our campaign has been endorsed by 80 labor unions, 63 community organizing groups, 15 faith-based groups, more than 75 businesses, and more than 100 other social service and not-for-profit organizations focused on housing, education, transportation, public health, and the environment. Learn more and get involved at FairShareMA.com.