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Free Route 28 Bus Pilot

The City of Boston is making travel on the Route 28 bus free to all! Bi-weekly ridership updates will be posted at the bottom of the page.

Still have questions? Contact:
Transportation
1 City Hall Square
Room 721
Boston, MA 02201-2026

Overview

Route 28 bus riders will be able to board buses at all doors without paying a fare from August 29 - November 29, 2021.

Free fares will help riders save money. All-door boarding will help passengers board faster. This should help speed travel times on a route that often runs behind schedule.

The communities Route 28 serves are key to Boston's equitable reopening and recovery. A better, more affordable Route 28 will help residents join in Boston's long-term renewal.

MBTA route 28 bus at Ruggles station, November 2016.jpg

Why are we doing this?

Why?
Essential travel connection

The Route 28 bus is a key connector 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.

We hope to reach a large number of residents with this pilot
High ridership route

Route 28 is one of the MBTA’s highest ridership bus routes both during and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It carried about 12,500 riders every day pre-pandemic. Ridership is generally steady throughout the day compared to most other routes that see low off-peak ridership.

COVID relief

More than two-thirds of riders on Route 28 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 help Route 28 riders more easily participate in Boston’s reopening, recovery, and long-term renewal.

Common questions

How can I participate in the pilot?

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

Who is paying for all this?

The City of Boston is paying for this pilot.

Do I need my CharlieCard?

If you're only riding the 28, 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 pilot!

Can I transfer onto other lines or services for free?

Unfortunately, no. Only the 28 bus 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 28, you will not need a monthly pass for September, October, or November. 

The Ruggles bus route
The Ruggles bus route

Key goals and metrics

Rider equity

  • Provide direct benefit to some of Boston’s communities who have been hardest hit by the pandemic
  • A temporary pilot that directly benefits many of Boston’s transit-critical residents

Measured by: % transit-critical riders, % totally free trips (i.e. no transfers)

Economic impact

  • Free fares will lessen riders’ financial burden at a time when economic vulnerability is at a historic high 
  • Provide monetary support to some of Boston’s most economically disadvantaged residents this fall

Measured by: % of riders saving money as a result of the pilot, change in ridership, number of new riders

Travel time impacts

  • All-door boarding will speed boarding and travel times on a route that frequently runs behind schedule
  • Demonstrate benefits of all-door boarding and bus priority on the Route 28 bus

Measured by: actual and perceived change in travel time and reliability, on-time performance and accessibility

Ridership Statistics

Ridership Stats

line graph of route 28 ridership and eight other routes

 

bar graph of route 28 bus ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership up 14%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership up 7%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 17%
  • September 12-19: ridership down 4%

Systemwide Ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership up 7%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership down 1%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 12%
  • September 12-19: ridership up 2%

Route 14 Ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership up 6%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership down 15%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 30%
  • September 12-19: ridership down 1%

route 15 ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership up 8%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership up 8%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 12%
  • September 12-19: ridership up 1%

Route 19 ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership up 7%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership down 2%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 51%
  • September 12-19: ridership down 1%

route 29 ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership down 4%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership down 3%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 19%
  • September 12-19: ridership down 2%

route 31 ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership up 7%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership down 7%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 20%
  • September 12-19: ridership down 3%

route 32 ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership up 9%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership up 7%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 14%
  • September 12-19: ridership up 2%

route 42 ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership up 7%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership up 3%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 17%
  • September 12-19: ridership down 1%

route 45 ridership

 

  • August 22-29 (Free 28 Pilot Starts): ridership up 8%
  • August 22-September 5: ridership down 8%
  • September 5-12: ridership up 28%
  • September 12-19: ridership up 3%
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