Mass Senate passes amendment to create or authorize low-income transit fare programs

In complete transparency, the following press release was sent to the SOURCE media from the Presidency of the Senate.

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BOSTON – Today, July 14, the Massachusetts State Senate passed an amendment to the transportation bond bill, Senate Bill 2989, which directs the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and enables Regional Transport Authorities (RTAs) across the Commonwealth to create a low income fare scheme

The amendment passed by the Senate directs MBTA to create a low-income rate program through a thorough implementation study that would involve stakeholders at all levels, ensuring a fair and financially sound program.

Additionally, it opens the door for RTAs to create their own low-income fare programs, with discounted or free transit rides for eligible residents.

“We’re trying again because it’s the right thing to do, we’re trying again because so many seniors, people with disabilities and working families rely on public transit,” said Senator Lydia Edwards (D -Boston), the godmother. of the amendment. “People with the least money need public transit the most. They depend on it to get to work, to get to college, to doctor’s appointments, and to get their kids to school or daycare. Thank you, Senate Speaker Spilka, for your leadership on the Low Income Tariff Program Amendment.

“Rising inflation and rising costs are hurting low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities in particular, many of whom are already struggling to bring home the income needed to house and feed their families,” he said. said Senate Speaker Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Public transport is a lifeline for so many working families across the Commonwealth, who use it to get to work, to school and to get children to daycare. I am proud that the Senate once again supports this important initiative.

“Low-income fares on the MBTA and RTAs are critical to providing affordable and equitable public transit,” said Josh Ostroff, interim director of the Transportation for Massachusetts coalition. “Thank you to the Senate, in particular Senate Speaker Spilka, Senators Crighton and Edwards, for their leadership on this issue which will reduce costs for thousands of residents across the Commonwealth.”

“Many Massachusetts families struggle with the burden of public transit costs,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets. “A low-income fare program will make our public transport system more accessible and equitable, helping our entire Commonwealth to combat climate change and traffic congestion and promote racial justice. We applaud the leadership of the Senate in advancing this essential policy.

“We commend the Senate for demanding that the MBTA create a means-tested pricing program,” said Paul Broduer, Mayor of Melrose and Vice Chairman of the Metro Mayors Coalition. “Low-income residents across the region rely on public transit to access jobs, school and other essential services. We saw this firsthand during the early months of the pandemic, when our busiest bus routes remained crowded with essential workers en route to jobs that could not be done remotely. This program will increase access to public transit for those who need it most.

“We are encouraged by the Senate’s decision to pass a low-income fare to the MBTA through Amendment 7 to S.2989,” said Michael Vartabedian, co-chair, Public Transit Public Good coalition, and Assistant Director Business Representative, District 15 IAMAW. “We thank Senator Edwards and his co-sponsors, and Senate Speaker Spilka and his leadership for championing this popular and urgent policy, which would put millions of dollars back into the pockets of low-income families who depend on the MBTA . Today’s vote gives us hope that this measure will quickly pass through the Legislative Assembly, and we urge Governor Baker to sign it.

“We need a fully funded MBTA that serves all of our residents,” said Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo, a member of the Metro Mayors Coalition. “This program will make the T accessible to our lower-income riders and help ensure fairness and equity in our transit system.”

“Thank you to the Senate for including a low-income fare program in the Carriage Bond Bill and to Senator Edwards and Senator Crighton for getting this amendment passed,” said Sam Montaño, Director of Organization at GreenRoots. “We desperately need a tariff policy that uplifts working families across the state. It’s time our public transit system started working for those most affected by the burden of public transit costs.

Last year, the House and Senate approved a low-income fare program in the transportation bond bill, but the provision and funding were vetoed by the governor. Baker.

Having passed the Senate as part of the last carriage bond bill, the provision is now before the conference committee for that bill.

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