Pilot program to offer up to $60 public transit credits for workers in five Main Street Districts
Mayor Kim Janey has announced that the City of Boston is piloting a new program to offer up to a $60 credit for MBTA and Bluebikes passes for 1,000 employees who work in five Main Street Districts: Three Squares in Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, Nubian Square, East Boston, and Fields Corner. Registration for the pilot is now active and will end on April 19. All five Main Street districts are served by MBTA subway and Bluebikes stations. To learn more about the pilot or to sign up for the program, please visit: boston.gov/FREEride or text FREEride to 866-396-0122.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many essential workers have continued to utilize public transportation because they have been unable to work from home,” said Mayor Janey. “I’m proud to launch this pilot program with the MBTA and Bluebikes to learn more about the impacts on commuter patterns when the cost of public transit is covered. And as more workers begin in return to workplaces, making transit more accessible is critical to our equitable recovery from the pandemic.”
The goal of the program is to incentivize employees returning to work and workers who currently drive to work to use public transit. With an expected increase in post-COVID-19 traffic, the City of Boston is piloting this incentive program to help alleviate small business districts of congestion and free up curb space for local neighborhood customers. The pilot program also seeks to lessen vehicular traffic to help reduce its environmental impact.
“We are excited to partner with our local Main Street Districts to pilot free public transit options for those working in Boston’s neighborhoods,” said Transportation Commissioner Greg Rooney. “Creating incentives to use public transit or bike to work options helps our economy, our environment and our local businesses. As more workers plan on restarting their commute, the Boston Transportation Department is committed to exploring creative ways to reduce traffic, carbon emissions and support Boston’s workers.”
The pilot program, which will be managed by the City of Boston Transportation Department, is structured to measure how financial incentives for public transit impact commuting behavior. The program will be phased over the next two months. Of the 1,000 qualified workers, some individuals will be randomly selected to get an MBTA pass with the full $60 credit loaded, and the remainder of the individuals will receive smaller stipends over time, which will end up totaling $60. Bluebikes pass-holders will be able to take unlimited trips during the two-month period. Bluebikes trips must be completed within 45 minutes to avoid usage charges. There is no obligation to continue paying for the Bluebikes pass once the two months are over.
Results from the pilot program will be used to inform the City of Boston’s long-term transportation demand management strategy. The pilot is run through a partnership between the Boston Transportation Department, including its Bluebikes program, Boston Main Street organizations, the MBTA, and the American Cities Climate Challenge.
The pilot also coincides with the MBTA’s continued efforts to expand CharlieCard access and to safely welcome riders back to the T. The MBTA cleans and sanitizes every location every 24 hours, cleans high-contact areas every four hours, and has installed hand sanitizer dispensers, disinfectant wipes, and cleaning sprays at stations throughout the system. There is also a systemwide mask mandate on all MBTA vehicles and property.
The City of Boston has been committed to making transit, pedestrian, and bicycle improvements that promote the health, equity, and future of Boston’s communities. This includes installation of new bus lanes on high-ridership corridors and over seven miles of a connected network of protected bike lanes through the Healthy Streets program, which was developed as part of the City’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.
Reducing congestion is in adherence with our Go Boston 2030 goals to reduce drive-alone rates in the city and increase the use of public transportation. Less congestion means fewer hours lost to traffic, better commutes, better air quality, and make the most of limited space on our roads.