Riders, Politicians Call For MBTA To Create Low-Income Fare

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Dozens of riders, workers, and politicians gathered at the State House Tuesday to call on the MBTA to offer a general low-income fare.

The group of supporters marched from the steps of the State House to deliver a petition in the shape of a giant MBTA Charlie Card, signed by over 1,000 people, to Governor Charlie Baker and the Legislature to help take action to create the new fare.

The MBTA does offer reduced fare options for people with disabilities, seniors, students, and low-income young adults that live in cities or towns in the Youth Pass program, but does not offer a general reduced fare for low-income riders.

State Lawmakers previously passed a proposal that would have created a low-income fare for the MBTA in 2021, but Governor Baker vetoed the bill. State Sen. Lydia Edwards, who sponsored the measure, said it is important to help low-income riders now as inflation rattles the economy.

"Not only are people rent-burdened, not only are they food insecure, but they're also movement burdened now, and we're letting that happen," Sen. Edwards said during the rally.

State Rep. Adrian Madaro joined Sen. Edwards at the rally and said he hears from his constituents that they need more help paying for public transit.

"I hear this constantly from East Boston residents, folks who are making decisions between buying a monthly pass or paying rent this or putting food on the table for my family," Rep. Madaro said. "We shouldn't be forcing families to make these decisions."

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One speaker at the rally works as a home aid and said she cannot afford to take the MBTA to work every day and often skips taking the subway altogether.

"Sometimes I walk 15 minutes to the bus so I can save 70 cents because that 70 cents will go towards my next ride for the bus," she said through a translator. "This is how I make sure I can put food on the table."

A recent poll from the MassINC. Polling Group found that 79 percent of those surveyed support a general low-income fare for the MBTA. The Massachusetts state legislative session ends on July 31, which means any urgent action would need to be approved before the end of the month.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@karynregal) reports.

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