MBTA riders and workers applaud Governor Healey’s call for permanent funding for a low-income fare

Reduced T costs will bring affordability and equity to thousands of Massachusetts residents 

BOSTON – The Public Transit Public Good coalition issued the following statement in support of Governor Maura Healey’s commitment to funding a low-income MBTA fare in the FY25 budget: 

“Governor Healey’s bold commitment to funding a low-income fare program will transform the lives of tens of thousands of people who count on the MBTA to live their lives with freedom and ease – to get to work, to medical appointments, and to take their children to school. No one should have to sacrifice food or medications to afford MBTA fares, and the Governor’s vision will bring real financial relief to more than 60,000 citizens across our state. 

“For more than three years, MBTA riders and workers have united to demand a low-income fare. We have rallied, marched, and called on our elected leaders – and now our vision of an equitable and affordable MBTA is within reach. We’re thankful for Governor Healey’s leadership and we look forward to the MBTA Board meeting next week, where we will continue to call for transit justice and affordability for all MBTA riders.” 

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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.

Governor Maura Healey signs a new state budget with $5M included for a low-income fare program

“Today, we celebrate a major milestone in our fight to create an affordable, accessible MBTA. Thank you to our Representatives, Senators, and the Healey Administration for passing a new state budget that includes $5 million towards a reduced fare program for low-income MBTA riders. This revenue will allow the MBTA to carry out its plan for a low-income fare program.

We must all be able to go where we need to without worrying about how to afford rent, food, or other necessities. With this budget, our elected officials have shown they are committed to ensuring the MBTA is affordable and accessible for all riders.”

– 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.

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.

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.

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.

Fair Share Amendment promises to make MBTA safer, fairer at time of mounting crisis

An infusion of revenues generated by the Fair Share Amendment can be used to address chronic safety and performance problems at the MBTA, according to a new report by the Public Transit Public Good coalition 

BOSTON — Frightening accidents, service cuts, deferred maintenance, budget shortfalls, and now weeks-long shutdowns on the Orange and Green Lines underscore the ongoing crisis at the MBTA. Investments by the state are urgent to revive our public transit system and address the MBTA’s safety, operational, and affordability crisis. 

An initiative on this November’s ballot could secure funding needed to address the MBTA’s safety challenges, as well as fund other transportation projects statewide. Question 1, known as the Fair Share Amendment, could pay for much-needed infrastructure investments and provide a stable funding source, making the MBTA safer and fairer for decades to come, according to a new report by Public Transit Public Good, a coalition of MBTA workers, riders, and community advocates.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Fair Share would create new revenues from a small tax increase on the very rich, that could be used to fund ongoing safety needs at the MBTA.
  • One key reason for the safety crisis at the MBTA is there is not enough funding for the maintenance and repair of the existing assets. 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.  
  • Currently, the two largest sources of MBTA funding are fares and sales taxes. Both of these cost more – as a percentage of household budget – for people with lower incomes. 
    • Regressive taxes and fares deepen economic divides and worsen racial inequity. 
  • Unlike fares and sales tax, the Fair Share Amendment is a progressive tax. With a progressive tax, individuals with higher incomes pay a higher proportion of that income in taxes. 

“So many of the MBTA’s problems today are due to years of underfunding – we just don’t have enough people or resources to keep up with the maintenance demand. The Fair Share Amendment could make sure mechanics, inspectors, and tradespeople who work at the MBTA have the resources we need to do our jobs. With those resources, we can keep our riders safe,” said Mike Vartabedian, Assistant Directing Business Representative of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), District 15.

If approved by voters, the Fair Share Amendment would generate funds to be used for two purposes: public education and the maintenance and repair of our Commonwealth’s transportation system. It’s expected to generate $2 billion in new revenue, and represents a critical opportunity to finally stop playing catch-up when it comes to funding the MBTA and to finally get it back on track through long-term funding.

“Just a portion of the funds from this Amendment can 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.”

“Question 1 is a win for everyone who travels by train, bus, or commuter rail, and for all of us who depend on the MBTA to power Greater Boston’s economy,” said Jeron Mariani, Campaign Manager for Fair Share for Massachusetts. “Passing Question 1 will mean $2 billion a year that’s constitutionally dedicated to transportation and public education, so it can only be spent on those priorities, including the MBTA and regional transit authorities across the state. And 99 percent of Massachusetts taxpayers won’t pay a penny more. Billionaires who don’t care about the MBTA because they never ride it are trying to scare voters about Question 1, but we can be confident that passing Question 1 will mean a safer, fairer MBTA for all of us.”

For decades, the MBTA has been underfunded and has deferred necessary maintenance projects. 

“Since 2016, the MBTA operating budget has grown, but has not kept up with inflation. An infusion of federal support during the first years of the COVID pandemic prevented cuts to the budget in FY21 and 22. But as federal money is spent, the MBTA is predicting budget shortfalls of more than $400 million as soon as FY 2025,” the report notes. 

The Fair Share Amendment would create a 4% tax on the portion of a person’s annual income above $1 million, allowing the richest one percent to help fund the state’s transit system instead of putting the burden on working people, seniors and young people. To ensure that the amendment continues to apply only to the highest income taxpayers, who have the ability to pay more, the $1 million threshold would be adjusted each year to reflect cost-of-living increases. This ensures that folks like Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Massachusetts’ second-richest billionaire, who stands to profit handsomely from expanded MBTA service bringing football fans, commuters and shoppers to “Patriot Place” in Foxborough, do their part to support the system.

But as noted in the report, “As of September 9, 2022, Kraft has given $1 million to oppose the Fair Share Amendment, through a Connecticut company he owns, Rand-Whitney Containerboard. This ranks him among the top five contributors to the No on 1 effort.”

“As a student and commuter who uses public transit, it is important to me that we improve our transportation. We need reliable and efficient transportation for students, workers, and everyone,” said Jazmany Reyes, GreenRoots.

On November 8, 2022, voters will have the opportunity to reimagine what is possible — a fairer tax system that funds public education and transportation, and a transit system

that is safe and sustainably funded. The Fair Share Amendment holds the potential to make the MBTA safer and fairer in the decades to come.

“I rely on public transportation on a daily basis, to go to work, grocery shop, and to doctor appointments. Every week I use public transportation to go to church and see friends. Public transit is a lifeline for me and so many others in my community, we need to invest in it,” said Mitikei Chengerei, Member, GreenRoots.

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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.

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.

Transit riders, workers, and advocates respond to the FTA’s report on the MBTA

Transit riders, workers, and advocates respond to the FTA’s report on the MBTA - K19I: CS: Community Labor United (CLU): Public Transit Public Good

BOSTON – In response to the recent Safety Management Inspection final report released by the Federal Transit Administration, workers and riders of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition shared the following statement:

“The Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) report released today is a clear indictment of Governor Baker’s approach to the MBTA and the Department of Public Utilities tasked with overseeing transit safety. We’ve seen too many years of Baker’s MBTA ignoring needed maintenance, starving operations of needed funds, and putting workers and riders at risk. For safe and reliable service moving forward – and to ensure the MBTA can hire the workers it needs – we must ensure the MBTA has an adequate operating budget, prioritizes safety, and listens to workers and riders.”

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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.