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Mayor Janey, Community Groups, Unions Demand Action on Low-Income Fare

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 24, 2021

Contact on behalf of Public Transit Public Good Coalition:
Orianna Tate, orianna@617mediagroup.com, 617-895-6783

 

Mayor Janey, Community Groups, Unions Demand Action on Low-Income Fare  

 

Mayor Janey, riders and transit advocates from throughout the MBTA service area spoke during the Joint DOT/FMCB Board meeting to demand the Transit Authority act swiftly to create a reduced fare for low-income riders

BOSTON — Mayor Kim Janey, City of Boston, joined members of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition at Monday’s meeting of the joint DOT and MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Boards to call for urgent action on a reduced fare for low-income riders. 

“A low-income fare is necessary to ensure affordability for all riders, no matter where they live or what mode of transportation they take,” said Mayor Kim Janey, City of Boston. “I stand with the riders and workers of the Public Transit Public Good coalition as we call for a low-income fare.”  

Joining the mayor were community and labor groups who reiterated their long standing commitment to a low income fare. 

“The pandemic is gradually improving and as we are recovering and returning to work, we know that public transit is necessary and we rely on it to get to and from work,” said Meihua Zeng, a home healthcare worker. “If there is a low-income fare for low-income communities, it would help many families and alleviate much of the burden low-income families have and continue to face.” 

In comments to the board, Mary Napolitano, a member of Massachusetts Senior Action Council, recounted that before she turned 65 and became eligible for a discounted senior pass, she struggled to pay T fares on her fixed social security income. 

I would often use less convenient transportation, avoiding use of the train, because I simply couldn’t afford it,” said Napolitano. “If there had been a low-income fare pass available,” she said, “at just $800 a month I surely would have qualified for it and saved myself those much needed funds.”

“Communities of color and low-income communities are still feeling the harsh economic impacts of the pandemic,” said Lee Matsueda, Executive Director, Community Labor United. “That is true across the state and it is true in Boston. We recognize and are proud to have the support of municipal leaders like Mayor Janey, who is calling on the MBTA to do more to help riders.”

The majority of FMCB members are in favor of a low income fare program, and have expressed frustration with the delays in passing this urgently needed support for riders. In January, Governor Baker vetoed transportation bill provisions that would have established and funded a low-income fare. 

“The Baker-Polito veto showed the administration is out of touch with the struggles of everyday MBTA riders,” said Darlene Lombos, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC).  “The low-income fare system is a critical piece of our recovery and we are speaking in a united voice today, urging the FMCB and the legislature to do all they can to make sure a low-income fare becomes a reality.” 

Today, the MBTA estimated a reduced fare program could save low income riders up to $47 million a year. The MBTA said that annual operating and administrative costs would range from $24-38 million at current service levels, with additional costs if free fare programs increased ridership, leading to expansion of MBTA fleets. 

“The reality is that right now, that money comes from the pockets of MBTA riders who can least afford it,” said Mike Vartabedian, Assistant Directing Business Representative of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), District 15. “While working families are struggling, many big corporations and ultra wealthy individuals are doing better than ever — the real solution to funding programs like the low-income fare is to make sure those who can afford it are paying their fair share.” 

The Public Transit Public Good Coalition says the best way to fund the low-income fare is to pass progressive revenue measures, like the Fair Share Amendment as well as current bills that would restore the corporate income tax to the pre-2010 rate of  9.5%, and raise taxes on off-shored corporate profits.

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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.

 

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