This new program would apply on the Commuter Rail and would apply to the MBTA paratransit customers on the RIDE.  -  Photo: MBTA

This new program would apply on the Commuter Rail and would apply to the MBTA paratransit customers on the RIDE.

Photo: MBTA

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announced fare change proposals that aim to improve equity, increase ridership, and simplify fare rules, including the introduction of a reduced fare program for riders with low income.

Building upon the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s FY24 budget that includes $5 million for the MBTA to develop a low-income fares program, the new program would provide riders who are aged 26-64, non-disabled, and have low income with reduced fares of approximately 50% off on all MBTA modes.

Program participants will demonstrate eligibility via existing enrollment in programs with a cutoff of 200% of the federal poverty line (or lower).

Where Does the New Program Apply?

This new program would apply on the Commuter Rail and would apply to the MBTA paratransit customers on the RIDE, cutting the price for ADA trips in half for eligible riders. 

“We are incredibly excited about this program, which will make a difference in the lives of residents across the state and provide greater affordability, opportunity, and access to all MBTA service for residents as they travel throughout the week,” said Massachusetts Transportation Secretary/CEO Monica Tibbits-Nutt. “This underscores the bold vision and commitment of the Healey-Driscoll Administration to deliver equitable, reliable, and resilient transportation in a big way.”

If approved by the MBTA Board of Directors, these fare changes would go into effect in spring and summer 2024. 

The MBTA estimates the cost of the program to be approximately $52-62 million (including administrative costs, operating costs to meet induced demand, and fare revenue loss).

More than 60,000 riders are expected to qualify for and enroll in the program, which is expected to result in 7 million more trips per year.

To make the program further accessible throughout Massachusetts communities, the MBTA said it will partner with third-party Community-Based Partners to manage in-person customer service and eligibility verification.

Other MBTA Efforts

The MBTA is beginning 2024 with the goal of improving equity, increasing ridership, and more. Looking back at the past year shows the agency has been committed to improving all aspects of transit.

In September 2023, the MBTA announced it had provided an update to the Board of Directors on its efforts to increase the agency’s environmental sustainability and resilience.

The MBTA released agency-wide goals to guide its work, including a goal focused on reducing environmental impacts and increasing the resilience of the transit system.

The agency then launched the Bus Priority Vision and Toolkit. Through partnerships with communities and municipalities, bus priority allows the MBTA to make bus transit faster and more efficient through the creation of dedicated bus lanes, the implementation of transit signal priority, and the use of queue jumps.

In November, the MBTA launched its Track Improvement Program, an initiative to eliminate all existing speed restrictions and fix tracks closer to a state of good repair by the end of next year.

The program is part of the MBTA’s efforts to “Rebuild, Restore, and Reimagine” the public transit system.  

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