A low-income fare would make a real difference

CommonWealth Magazine

Public support is high, need is great

TWO MONTHS before my daughter was due to be born, I developed preeclampsia and had to be rushed from Brockton to Tufts Medical Center to give birth. My baby was in the neonatal intensive care unit for more than a month, and after I was discharged, I came in every day to visit her. The journey back and forth would have been hard for any parent. For me, the financial cost added to the emotional toll. I was 16 and homeless, and it took everything I had to find the daily commuter rail fare to get back and forth each day to see my daughter.

Today, she is nine years old and thriving. We are on solid footing and live together in an apartment in Brockton. But I know that for other people going through a hard time like I was — or just trying to make ends meet — the cost of public transportation is still a barrier. The recent advancement of An Act Relative to Low-Income Fares by the joint transportation committee is a hopeful sign for riders struggling to pay the fares on the commuter rail, MBTA buses and subways, and on regional transportation authority (buses like the BAT here in Brockton.

Read the article in Commonwealth Magazine

Coalition Calls for Swift Action on Low-Income Fares

Charlestown Parriot Bridge

In the wake of the failure by the MBTA board to create a Low-Income Fare for MBTA riders, a popular proposal that garnered overwhelming support in public testimony, the Public Transit Public Good Coalition calls for swift action on providing a Low-Income Fare for MBTA riders.

Despite long-standing calls from environmental justice communities, labor groups and others for a low-income fare, the MBTA has refused to advance the Low-Income Fare program, citing budgetary constraints. The Public Transit Public Good Coalition calls on the MBTA to use a portion of the $500 million it recently reallocated for use on a range of one-time uses to fund a low-income fare pilot. We estimate a year-long pilot would cost $42 million dollars.

Read the article in The Charlestown Bridge

Coalition Calls for Swift Action On Low-Income Fares

Revere Journal

In the wake of the failure by the MBTA board to create a Low-Income Fare for MBTA riders, a popular proposal that garnered overwhelming support in public testimony, the Public Transit Public Good Coalition calls for swift action on providing a Low-Income Fare for MBTA riders.

Despite long-standing calls from environmental justice communities, labor groups and others for a low-income fare, the MBTA has refused to advance the Low-Income Fare program, citing budgetary constraints. The Public Transit Public Good Coalition calls on the MBTA to use a portion of the $500 million it recently reallocated for use on a range of one-time uses to fund a low-income fare pilot. We estimate a year-long pilot would cost $42 million dollars.

Read the article in The Revere Journal

Coalition Calls for Swift Action on Low-Income Fares

Everett Independent

In the wake of the failure by the MBTA board to create a Low-Income Fare for MBTA riders, a popular proposal that garnered overwhelming support in public testimony, the Public Transit Public Good Coalition calls for swift action on providing a Low-Income Fare for MBTA riders.

Despite long-standing calls from environmental justice communities, labor groups and others for a low-income fare, the MBTA has refused to advance the Low-Income Fare program, citing budgetary constraints. The Public Transit Public Good Coalition calls on the MBTA to use a portion of the $500 million it recently reallocated for use on a range of one-time uses to fund a low-income fare pilot. We estimate a year-long pilot would cost $42 million dollars.

Read the article in The Everett Independent

Fare-free bus service extends to three routes, Wu’s climate justice called into question

The daily Free press header

Starting March 1, bus riders boarding routes 23, 28 and 29 will do so free of charge.

Following the successful pilot program on Route 28, Mayor Michelle Wu announced the extension of the fare-free program to apply to two additional routes for two years, adding that it will meet the city’s “climate justice goals.”

“Expanding fare-free transit to Routes 23, 28, 29 will better connect our communities, increase ridership, and ease congestion for all our residents,” Wu said in a Feb. 9 press conference.

Read the article in The Daily Free Press

Free the T? Some just want a discount

wbur

Free the T? Some just want a discount

Atiea Kemp just finished an overnight shift at a retirement home, where she works as a nursing assistant.

She relies on the MBTA to get around and says she usually pays $90 for a monthly pass, but sometimes she can’t afford it.
“I have to get back and forth to work, so I have to make it happen,” said Kemp, while riding the 28 bus to run some errands before going home. “Sometimes I just skip a month and just do a weekly pass or something like that, and just make it work.”

The 42-year-old lives in Dorchester with her three children, one of whom has a disability. Between her kids, housing, bills and rising costs, she finds one paycheck is not “enough to live.

Read the article on WBUR

Fare-free MBTA bus pilot boosted ridership, but not always savings

wbur

 

A pilot program to run the Route 28 bus in Boston free of fares boosted ridership by more than 20%, while only about a third of commuters who participated saved money because of costs they faced elsewhere on the MBTA, officials said Thursday.

Final evaluation of the fare-free test remains underway, but T staff presented an overview Thursday that showed significant effects from allowing riders to get on and off without paying as the agency prepares to launch an expanded two-year pilot program starting next month.

Between the original pilot’s August launch and today, fare-free service led to a 22% growth in ridership on the Route 28 bus even when accounting for a system-wide gradual increase in use after a COVID-inflicted dropoff.

Read the article in WBUR

Two-thirds of riders on Boston’s first fare-free bus have not saved money on transit

GBH Logo

 

Days before Boston is set to expand its fare-free bus program, the MBTA shared preliminary data that indicates the existing effort is not helping many riders in need.

Eliminating fares on the Route 28 bus increased ridership and decreased travel times, but most riders did not save any money as a result of the pilot. At the urging of transit advocates and their riders, the MBTA’s Board of Directors is now actively considering more options to reduce the cost of transit, including reduced fares for low-income adults.

The report states that 66% of riders said they did not receive any financial benefit from the Route 28 fare-free pilot program, which began last August in Boston. That’s because they paid for monthly passes or a fares on connecting subway or bus trips. The only financial beneficiaries were those who rode only the 28 bus: 21% of whom said they saved more than $20 a month, and 12% who saved less than that.

Read the article on GBH

Public Transit Public Good coalition issues statement on Low-Income Fare bill

PTPG Coalition issues statement Header

MA – The following statement has been issued by the Public Transit Public Good coalition on ​​H.3526 An Act Relative to Low Income Transit Fares moving favorably out of committee:

“Our coalition is grateful to see the Joint Transportation Committee has unanimously and favorably advanced the important transit affordability legislation, H.3526 An Act Relative to Low-Income Fares. This urgently-needed bill would help ensure equity and affordability at the MBTA. Today, low-income riders and riders of color pay a larger share of their income toward fares than wealthy residents, and must work long hours to afford to ride. The low-income fare system is a step in the right direction to eradicate this inequitable system. With this bill, Massachusetts legislators have an opportunity to make affordable transit a reality for all riders. We look forward to seeing the House Committee on Ways and Means’ continued leadership on moving this bill forward. 

As this legislation advances, the MBTA Board can act now to advance a low-income fare pilot and assist struggling riders. A reduced-fare would save low-income riders an average of almost $500 per year.”

###

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.

Public Transit Public Good Coalition Calls for Swift Action On Low-Income Fares

PTPG Coalition issues statement Header

Massachusetts — In the wake of today’s failure by the MBTA board to create a Low-Income Fare for MBTA riders, a popular proposal that garnered overwhelming support in public testimony, the Public Transit Public Good Coalition calls for swift action on providing a Low-Income Fare for MBTA riders.

Despite long-standing calls from environmental justice communities, labor groups and others for a low-income fare, the MBTA has refused to advance the Low-Income Fare program, citing budgetary constraints. The Public Transit Public Good Coalition calls on the MBTA to use a portion of the $500 million it recently reallocated for use on a range of one-time uses to fund a low-income fare pilot. We estimate a year-long pilot would cost $42 million dollars.

“The idea of a Low-Income Fare began for a simple reason: folks were struggling to pay the cost of riding,” said Collique Williams, an organizer with Public Transit Public Good Coalition, convened by Community Labor United, in his testimony to the Board. “The fare had gone up in 2012, in 2014, in 2016, and in 2019. People needed some help to pay the fare and some assurance that the spiraling costs would not continue. Then, in 2020, the pandemic hit, bringing new economic hardships and health risks. The power to bring riders relief lies here with this body.”

We know that T can afford a Low-Income Fare and it’s a matter of will to support the low-income riders who have been carrying the burden of T funding. We know that this board can make it happen,” said Karen Chen, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association, a member of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition, in her testimony to the Board. 

While delaying action on a low-income fare, the MBTA is rushing to a decision on a new $3 fee on the Charlie Card. The proposed surcharge is part of a move to the controversial, expensive, and much-delayed ‘automated fare collection’ system outsourced to billionaire corporations Cubic and John Laing. The MBTA is set to pay close to a billion dollars, including $288 million in profit and overhead, for this privatized fare collection system. 

“MBTA staff could not answer Board Chair Taylor’s question as to when the new fare collection technology is expected to come online,” said Williams. “Before deciding to impose new fees on riders, the MBTA should re-examine its fare collection contract, and adopt a Low-Income Fare that would save low-income people millions. We also call on the Massachusetts Legislature to advance legislation that would create a Low-Income Fare at the MBTA and provide assistance to RTAs to do the same.” 

###

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.