BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston will make three MBTA bus routes — the 23, 28 and 29 — free for the next two years, Mayor Michelle Wu announced on Wednesday.
The goal of the new program is to ease congestion and speed up bus service by letting people get on board faster. The program will start on March 1 and is being funded through the city's American Rescue Plan Act money.
"We are grateful to apply some of the federal relief funds for the pandemic to this," Mayor Wu said during the announcement at Grove Hall. "It is a perfect use of it because these very communities were disproportionally impacted by every aspect of the pandemic."
The 23 Bus route (Ashmont to Dorchester Center, Grove Hall & Ruggles), the 28 Bus route (Mattapan Square, up Blue Hill Ave. to Nubian Square & Ruggles) and the 29 Bus route (Mattapan Square, up Blue Hill Ave. to Jackson Square) each serve a diverse ridership. All three routes travel through and along Blue Hill Avenue, which the city has identified as an area "prioritized for improvements to increase reliability and boost ridership."
These three routes also have some of the highest ridership in Boston with Route 23 serving over 100,000 monthly riders. Mayor Wu said there is further legislation being taken up at Beacon Hill and at the federal level to continually make this program available in the future.
"There's a lot of work and leadership happening from our state and federal partners to find that sustainable funding source," she said. "We will need partnership; we will need help from other levels of government as well."
This comes after the Wu Administration was granted $8 million by the City Council to eliminate fares on the routes in December. The city says they intend to inform all residents about the free-fare service and provide opportunities for people to build riding the bus into their daily routines.
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