MBTA workers joined public transit riders Tuesday in a rally calling for lawmakers to make the T cheaper for low-income residents.
The latest: Around 50 demonstrators took a giant CharlieCard adorned with over 1,000 signatures as a petition into the State House to deliver to the offices of legislative leaders and Gov. Charlie Baker.
Riders and workers deliver 1,000+ petition signatures to Governor, Senate leadership demanding affordability, equity on the MBTA
BOSTON – Riders and transit workers fed up with the high cost of riding the MBTA called on the Legislature Tuesday to take urgent action to pass a low-income fare provision, and on Governor Baker to sign it into law.
“The best thing we can do is to make sure there is a low-income fare,” said Senator Lydia Edwards. “The only way we can honestly make sure that we’re representing everybody in the Commonwealth – and if you look at this wonderful, beautiful tapestry of individuals you see all colors, you see workers, you see professionals, you see people in unions, you see working people trying their best to make sure they represent everyone here. We are the Commonwealth. This is who we are. This is who we represent. And, this is the right thing to do right now.”
The Public Transit Public Good Coalition, representing transit workers and riders across Massachusetts, held a press conference at the State House to call on the Legislature and Governor Baker to sign low-income fare provisions into law to improve equity at the MBTA. The group also entered the State House and presented a giant CharlieCard with more than 1,000 petition signatures to Speaker of the House Ron Mariano, Senate President Karen Spilka, and Governor Baker.
“When you’re in a family of low-wage workers, every penny, every cent counts because a $90 monthly pass is a lot for my family. And even for a bus card, that’s $50, but that’s still a lot,” said Huiquin Huang, of the Chinese Progressive Association. “So what I do is that sometimes I walk 15 minutes to the bus so that I can save 70 cents because that 70 cents will go to my next ride for the bus. And this is how I make sure that we can put food on the table.”
“Whether you ride the subway every day or not, we’re all in this together. Boston has long been a leader in transit, the first subway system in North America opened here in 1897. It’s once again time for us to lead by working to make transit more accessible and equitable,” said Jim Evers, President of Carmen’s Union Local 589. “Low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately rely on public transportation to get where they need to go. We cannot meaningfully uplift these communities without adequate support and funding for our MBTA system. Low-income fares are just one small step we can take to make the system more fair and equitable.”
“I remain hopeful and look forward to continuing this work with my colleagues in the legislature, as well as with dedicated advocates, many of whom are behind me, the labor groups, and so many others here this afternoon who have worked tirelessly to advance this issue and get us where we are today. But we have more work to do, to get this bill passed,” said Representative Adrian Madaro.
Historically, service cuts by MBTA management have hit workers and riders hardest. For years, working people and communities of color have carried a disproportionate burden of the cost of running the MBTA, and now, with inflation soaring and ridership down, that burden is even more pronounced. The crisis at the MBTA is affecting people across the Commonwealth who count on this service to be affordable and equitable every day.
Polls show support for a low-income fare is high – at 84 percent – across the Commonwealth. The Legislature has passed this commonsense policy before, only to see it vetoed by Governor Baker, another example of his failure of leadership on public transit. In the final weeks of the session, elected leaders and Governor Baker must take this vital step in solving the MBTA crisis by passing a low-income fare.
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.
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Dozens of riders, workers, and politicians gathered at the State House Tuesday to call on the MBTA to offer a general low-income fare.
The group of supporters marched from the steps of the State House to deliver a petition in the shape of a giant MBTA Charlie Card, signed by over 1,000 people, to Governor Charlie Baker and the Legislature to help take action to create the new fare.
Transit advocates, MBTA riders and workers are making one final push for a low-income fare program to be passed through the Legislature by the end of the month, when the formal session ends.
State Sen. Lydia Edwards, Rep. Adrian Madaro, and Carmen’s Union Local 589 President Jim Evers joined fellow low-income fare supporters at a Public Transit Public Good-organized Tuesday afternoon rally in front of the State House.
BOSTON — In response to the recently approved FY2023 budget that neglects to include a reduced fare for low-income riders, Public Transit Public Good Coalition shared this statement:
“MBTA riders are looking to Beacon Hill to pass low-income fare legislation after the Authority failed to include the popular affordability measure in its FY23 budget. A low-income fare would put $500 a year back into the pockets of those who need it most: riders.
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.
BOSTON —In response to the recent poll results by MassInc. highlighting widespread public support for a reduced fare for low-income riders, Public Transit Public Good Coalition shared the following statement:
“The result of this poll shines a spotlight on a fact that MBTA riders and Massachusetts residents have known for years: a reduced fare for MBTA riders is an absolute necessity. As the Massachusetts House of Representatives takes up this critical issue today, we hope that they will vote YES on Amendment #107 to H.4897, which would require the MBTA to offer discounted fares to riders who qualify, including the front-line, low-wage workers who use our public transit system to get to their jobs, to take their children to school and to access essential medical care and services.
“With the Transportation Bond Bill, our elected leaders on Beacon Hill have the opportunity to address not only the MBTA safety crisis, but also the chronic and often invisible crisis of transit affordability.
“Inflation is rising dramatically and far too many working families in our cities and communities are being left behind. Massachusetts continues to face a dramatic racial wealth gap, with families of color facing higher levels of unemployment and underemployment, as well as lower wages and food insecurity. The increasing costs of riding the MBTA mean many families are forced to choose between buying a T pass and other urgent needs, including groceries, rent, or utility bills. By listening to the needs of Massachusetts residents today, our legislature can take a huge step towards ensuring transit affordability.”
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.
Eliminating fares has been one of her top priorities
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaks at a rally in favor of a low-income fare on the MBTA.
BOSTON MAYOR Michelle Wu, who has made a fare-free MBTA one of her top priorities, on Monday said she supports passage of a law creating a reduced fare for low-income riders of the transit authority.
In remarks at a rally near Park Street Station, Wu didn’t distinguish between her two positions and implied the two could coexist together. Aides said later that the mayor is pursuing both simultaneously.
“The mayor supports fare-free transit and remains committed to her fare-free pilot program on three MBTA bus routes. While the city looks into the feasibility of expanding fare-free transit, low-income fares would give more Boston residents access to affordable and reliable transportation across the MBTA system,” said a statement issued by the mayor’s office.
At Park Street, Mayor Wu supports low-income fare program for the T Boston Mayor Michelle Wu joined transit advocates in downtown Boston Monday to call on state lawmakers to pass legislation that would establish and fund a low-income fare program for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s system. According to advocates, data show that a reduced fare for the MBTA would allow low-income people to afford nearly a third more trips.
“We know that for Boston to be a city for everyone, everyone’s got to be able to get where they need to go,” Wu told the crowd of dozens gathered outside the Park Street T station on the edge of Boston Common.
A bill currently in front of the state House Ways and Means Committee establishing a low-income fare program would “equitably expand the proven affordability benefits of programs like the MBTA Youth Pass and free fare bus pilots, as well as fare free regional transit authorities,” advocates said in a press release. The legislation, authored by state Representative Adrian Madaro of East Boston, previously received a favorable vote by the Legislature’s joint Transportation Committee.
Transit advocates, including Boston mayor Michelle Wu, held a rally at the Park Street MBTA stop next to Boston Common on Monday, pushing the MBTA for a low income fare program.
Currently, the MBTA offers discounts to groups like students and seniors, but nothing for those who are in a low income bracket.
“We need the low income there so we do not have to choose between a trip and another basic need,” Kathy Paul with the Massachusetts Senior Action Council said.
Boston mayor Michelle Wu has long pushed for a free transit system.
“Public transit systems across the country right now are having to rethink how they fund these systems because the pay as you go model hasn’t been working to be able to maintain our trains for a long, long time,” Wu said.
However, new proposed changes to fare collection would lead us in the opposite direction — away from greater equity and towards a less accessible transportation system, harming the very riders that need it most.
In 2018, the MBTA outsourced fare collection to two billionaire corporations. Governor Charlie Baker’s administration made big promises around equity, saying it would “allow a major customer service improvement to advance in a cost-effective manner.” But last month, as part of this controversial and expensive process, the MBTA proposed a troubling new $3 fee just to obtain an empty Charlie Card. There is, however, no fee charged to those who have the ability to pay with a smart phone app. If the MBTA does not simultaneously reduce the fare for low-income riders, the new fee calls into question the MBTA’s commitment to racial and economic equity. Once again, the MBTA is continuing to perpetuate disparities between the haves and the have-nots: banked vs. un- or under-banked, smartphone vs. flip phone, high-income vs. low-income.