COVID-19 information
/
For the latest updates, please visit our coronavirus (COVID-19) website:
Last updated:

Free Route 23, 28, and 29 Bus Program

Starting March 1, 2022, MBTA bus routes 23, 28, and 29 will be fare-free for two years.

featured guide
Take our survey!
/
We are surveying 23, 28, and 29 bus riders about their experience. Enter to win a free monthly pass!

Overview

Just announced! Starting March 1, 2022, Route 23, 28, and 29 bus riders will be able to board at all doors without paying a fare for two years.

From March 1, 2022 through February 29, 2024, MBTA Routes 23, 28, and 29 will be free for all riders. The RIDE paratransit users can also ride for free as long as their trips start and end within 3/4-mile of these three routes. The free fares will help riders save money, and all-door boarding will help passengers board faster. This program expands the highly-popular fare-free Route 28 pilot, adding two other crucial bus routes and extending it for two years. 

The communities Routes 23, 28, and 29 serve are key to Boston's equitable reopening and recovery.

Route 28 bus flashing 'Ride for Free'

Bus Routes Map

View a map of the bus routes involved in this program, as well as some of the community hubs along the way!

Bus Routes Map

Why are we doing this?

Why are we doing this?
Essential travel connection

The Route 23, 28, and 29 buses are key connectors for many Boston residents, connecting residents of:

  • Mattapan
  • Roxbury, and
  • Dorchester
  • to the broader MBTA network.

Many residents in this area rely on daily bus service to meet their travel needs.

Crowd icon
High Ridership Bus Corridors

These three routes run along some of the highest ridership bus corridors in the City of Boston. After fares were eliminated in August 2021, Route 28, which runs from Mattapan Square along Blue Hill Avenue and then over to Ruggles, became the most popular route in the MBTA bus system. Route 23 serves over 100,000 monthly riders, running from Ashmont along Washington Street over to Warren Street, and continuing to Ruggles by way of Nubian Square. Route 29 runs from Mattapan Square along Blue Hill Avenue before traversing the City's new center-running bus lane along Columbus Avenue, from Franklin Park to Jackson Square.

Public Transit as a Public Good

Over half of riders on Routes 23, 28, and 29 are classified as low-income, according to MBTA’s most recent systemwide survey. The free fares will lessen riders’ financial burden at a time when economic vulnerability is at a historic high. We want to enable Route 23, 28, and 29 riders to more easily participate in Boston's reopening, recovery, and long-term renewal. 

Common questions

How can I use this program?

Simply board the 23, 28, or 29 bus from either the front or back doors! No need to tap your card or fiddle with cash.

Who is paying for all this?

In December, the Boston City Council voted to approve Mayor Wu’s appropriation order for $8 million in federal funds to eliminate fares on the 23, 28 and 29 MBTA bus routes for two years. The City of Boston will use these funds to reimburse the MBTA for lost fares on these routes.

Do I need my CharlieCard?

If you're only riding the 23, 28, and 29, no! You will still need some form of payment if you will be riding other MBTA services.

Who can take advantage of this?

Anyone can participate in this program!

Can I transfer onto other lines or services for free?

Unfortunately, no. Only the 23, 28, and 29 buses will be free during this time. Any other MBTA services will still require payment.

Do I still need to buy my monthly pass?

If you're only using the 23, 28, and 29, you will not need a monthly pass while the program is in effect. 

Does this program include The RIDE paratransit service?

Yes! As long as your trip starts and ends within 3/4-mile of routes 23, 28, or 29, your paratransit trip is free. MBTA staff should be able to tell you whether your trip is free when you schedule it with them.

Route 29 bus traveling along Blue Hill Ave
Route 29 bus flashing 'Mattapan'

 

Program goals

Rider equity

Provide a direct benefit to many of Boston’s transit-critical residents

Economic impact

Provide monetary support to some of Boston’s most economically disadvantaged residents and businesses

Ridership

Bring people back to transit, and make it easier to attract new riders

Rider experience

Improve rider experience and satisfaction on these bus routes

Environmental impact

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality

Travel time impacts

Improve travel times and reliability on routes that frequently run behind schedule

Route 28 Evaluation Report

We are excited to share the Route 28 Evaluation Report! This report looks at how the initial Route 28 free-fare pilot performed against the City's goals. In summary:

  • Free fares increased ridership substantially
  • Dwell times per passenger decreased by about 20%
  • Route 28 absorbed a significant ridership increase with minimal negative impact on travel times
  • Route 28 riders liked the easier boarding process, and overall satisfaction improved
  • About 20% of riders saved more than $20 a month
  • The majority of Route 28 pilot riders were transit-critical

Read the full report

Appendix on survey results / methodology

Back to top