Pilot program offering free fares on Route 28 for three months this fall
Mayor Kim Janey has announced that the City of Boston will begin a free fare pilot on MBTA Route 28, starting August 29 for three months to November 29. Route 28 riders will be able to board buses at all doors without needing to pay a fare.
Route 28 is one of the MBTA’s highest ridership bus routes both prior and during the COVID-19 pandemic, carrying approximately 12,880 riders every weekday pre-pandemic. Ridership is generally steady throughout the day compared to most other routes that see low off-peak ridership. The route runs from Mattapan Square to Ruggles Station by way of Nubian Square and Roxbury Crossing. It serves as a vital connection for the residents of Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester to the MBTA’s key bus, subway and commuter rail networks. The neighborhoods are home to families that pay a higher percentage of their household income on transportation compared to most other neighborhoods.
“As someone who depends, like many Bostonians, on consistent and reliable MBTA service, I know firsthand how vital Route 28 is for the economic corridor that connects Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester. The Route 28 Free Fare pilot program demonstrates the City’s commitment to making transportation accessible and affordable for residents and commuters,” said Mayor Janey. “I am grateful for the partnership of the MBTA and the Boston Transportation Department for their collaboration in realizing this effort.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the City of Boston on this pilot,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “We look forward to evaluating it and learning more about its impacts on ridership and the transit network.”
Funded by a $500,000 investment from the City of Boston, the goal of the pilot is to provide direct benefit to some of Boston’s communities who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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, and all-door boarding will speed boarding and travel times on a route that frequently runs behind schedule. Together, this will help Route 28 riders more easily join in the City’s reopening and recovery efforts.
The Boston Transportation Department and the MBTA will jointly manage the pilot program, making any adjustments as necessary. To evaluate the pilot, the agencies will be collecting operational data and conducting rider surveys. Key metrics relative to the goals of the initiative include travel time impacts, on-time reliability, rider experience, and ridership.
The pilot also coincides with the City of Boston’s effort to improve transit service along Blue Hill Avenue, Warren Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. City agencies are working with local community groups and abutters to make these corridors safer to cross for pedestrians, have improved traffic flow including for buses, and be stress-free for people on bicycles. Earlier this July, the City also submitted an application for $25 million in federal funding for Blue Hill Avenue with the support of the MBTA.
The Pilot is part of a larger initiative to help with economic recovery after the initiatives including a now completed program to distribute free MBTA and Bluebikes passes to small business employees at the City’s Main Streets districts and the outdoor dining program.