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.
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.