Worcester Considering Pilot Program For Free City Buses

WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Worcester City Council will consider a three-year pilot program providing free bus service as a way to boost ridership and reduce traffic congestion.

The idea has been proposed in Boston by new City Council President Kim Janey, though Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is hesitant about it. A similar pilot program is now running on three popular bus lines in Lawrence.

Worcester City Councilor At Large Gary Rosen told WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe the Worcester Regional Transit Authority has a ridership issue.

"Most are just empty, I mean empty, there's no one on it," Rosen said.

He'd like the Commonwealth to fund the program.

"The state funds the WRTA anyway, funds our empty buses," he said. "If we take away the revenue we get from the fare every year, it's probably a couple million dollars we'd be using, so I want to ask the state to give us, in addition during those three years to the money you would normally give us, give us $10 million more."

Lawrence Makes Three Bus Routes Free To Riders - Thumbnail Image

Lawrence Makes Three Bus Routes Free To Riders

Why should the state chip in? Well, Rosen says, they don't seem to see any issue in doling out money to the MBTA.

"If you look at the MBTA, they have no problem funding the MBTA with all their challenges and issues and crummy service, but they fund them fine, that's great!" he said. "Ten million dollars isn't asking a lot over three years."

If the program is successful, Rosen said he'd like to see area businesses chip in some money to keep it going.

Rosen said public hearings will soon be held on the proposal.

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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