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MBTA unveils plan to make the T more affordable for low-income riders in Massachusetts

by Staff

BOSTON – Thursday’s MBTA meeting highlighted several goals for the future of the MBTA including increased ridership, lower prices for low-income families and a safer and more efficient experience.

Transportation troubles are top of mind for travelers in Boston and the surrounding communities hoping for a change.

“Definitely could be faster. I pay $360 for the monthly commuter pass for Rail 7A, I think it’s a bit expensive,” said T rider, Hunter Wieckowski.

This week, Gov. Maura Healey announced a significant financial contribution to public transportation systems.

“It will make historic commitments to the MBTA,” said Healey during her budget announcement on Wednesday.

A welcomed announcement as the MBTA is seeing significant losses in ridership and revenue. They’re spending on track improvements, safety measures including cameras and education and hiring new staff post-pandemic but the money going out is more than what’s coming in and with federal funding dried up, the agency is in need of dollars.

Part of the solution? Forty million dollars in state money to reducing fare for low-income communities, encouraging new T users.

“The beauty of this is that what we’re looking to do is to be able to support riders across our whole territory,” said MBTA General Manager & CEO Phillip Eng.

The T plans to cut fares by 50% for low-income riders. Transportation advocates said they’re encouraged by the possibility.

“People are making a lot of tradeoffs to be able to afford the fare. Giving up meals, passing up basics, just staying at home. We can help it by bringing the T fares down,” said Susanne Bohme of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition

But can the T afford the fare cut? Eng said track and safety improvements will lead to less money spent on problems and more reliable ridership.

“It’s going to make mass transportation an even bigger part of growing the economy, quality of life and the ability for people who want to live, work and play in the Commonwealth,” said Eng.

The low fare for low-income riders will be officially approved in March. The program will then be implemented by the summertime; the T estimates this will garner 60,000 more riders.

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