Boston mayor, others rally to push MBTA for low income fare program

Transit advocates, including Boston mayor Michelle Wu, held a rally at the Park Street MBTA stop next to Boston Common on Monday, pushing the MBTA for a low income fare program.

Currently, the MBTA offers discounts to groups like students and seniors, but nothing for those who are in a low income bracket.

"We need the low income there so we do not have to choose between a trip and another basic need," Kathy Paul with the Massachusetts Senior Action Council said.

Boston mayor Michelle Wu has long pushed for a free transit system.

"Public transit systems across the country right now are having to rethink how they fund these systems because the pay as you go model hasn't been working to be able to maintain our trains for a long, long time," Wu said.

Last year, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a low income fare program, but Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed the measure.

At the time, Baker said more time would be needed to study and figure out what the revenue loss would be and how to replace it.

"We believe that a pilot to kick this off could be less than $10 million, and we're looking at less than $100 million annually to pay for a system wide fare that would also include the commuter rail," Stacy Thompson, the executive director of LivableStreets Alliance said.

"As the process of developing annual budgets for fiscal year 2023 and beyond moves forward, the MBTA anticipates a robust discussion of spending priorities," the MBTA said in a statement when asked about the possibility of a fare-free system.

"Low-income reduced fare programs are important tools which can foster equitable access to public transportation," Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka, a democrat from Ashland, said. "I look forward to discussing this and other ways to improve access to public transportation with my colleagues."