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City Council Calls on MBTA to Advance Low-Income Fare Program

MBTA bus fares have increased by more that 200 percent since 1991, more than double the rate of inflation.

The MBTA currently offers reduced fares for seniors, people with disabilities, some middle and high school students, and people with low incomes between the ages of 18 and 25. For years, advocates have called on the MBTA to pilot a reduced fare for low-income riders of all ages.

According to a report by the Public Transit Public Good Coalition, a reduced-fare program would benefit more than 90,000 riders and afford savings of about $500 annually per rider, totaling nearly $50 million in savings.

A June 2019 MIT study reported that a reduced fare increases low-income ridership by 30 percent and increases access to healthcare and social services. According to a resolution offered by Councilor Breadon, “The MBTA has the means to fund a year-long low-income fare pilot using one-time funds from federal pandemic relief aid, totalling less than 2 percent of the MBTA’s annual budget.”

An act relative to low income transit fares (H.4481), originally filed as H.3526 in the Massachusetts Legislature by Representative Adrian C. Madaro, received a favorable report in a new draft by the Joint Committee on Transportation and is now before the House Committee on Ways and Means.

This week, the Council went on record supporting this act and called on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to advance and implement a low-income fare program before setting new fees in place.

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