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.