How Free Fares Could Impact Our Transportation Systems

FRI, APR 23, 2021 (59:29)

Amid conversations around budget and services cuts for the MBTA, advocates, transit administrators and policymakers are asking the question: Can free buses save public transportation in Massachusetts?

Hear from panelists Vineet Gupta, Director of Transportation for the City of Boston, Laurel Paget-Seekins, a public transportation expert formerly of the MBTA, and Martha Velez, the City of Lawrence’s Director of Health and Human Services and point person on its free bus program.

The fare free movement is gaining momentum on Beacon Hill and in Gateway Cities like Lawrence and Worcester. Many are touting free fares as a way to make public transit more accessible to low income riders, and increase the use of public transit, which took a big hit during the pandemic. Is it time to change the way we provide public transportation? What is the impact on riders, cities, and transit agencies? Can we afford to do it?

+ BIO: Vineet Gupta

Vineet Gupta is the Director of Planning for the Boston Transportation Department.

In that role he has directed the City’s recently published transportation plan, Go Boston 2030, and its national award winning Complete Streets Guidelines. His team implements bike lanes and Green Links paths; manages the Blue Bikes bike-share system; and redesigns major corridors and squares with a focus on the public realm. The team also leads Boston’s inter-agency Vision Zero related programs.

His work is driven by extensive public process with a proven record of removing barriers to encourage participation by everyone. His Master of Architectural Studies and Master of City Planning degrees are from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

+ BIO: Laurel Paget-Seekins

Laurel Paget-Seekins is a Leadership in Government Fellow with the Open Society Foundations.

At Open Soceity Foundations, Laurel is working on a project that will assist advocates and government change-makers to create a more equitable recovery from COVID-19 through rebuilding public transit networks to better serve the needs of the communities most dependent on transit. She previously worked with the MBTA as assistant General Manager for Policy.

+ BIO: Martha Velez

Martha Velez is the Director of Health & Human Services for the City of Lawrence, overseeing the Council on Aging, Veteran Service Office, Recreation Department, and the Human Rights Committee. She has also been working on the city’s free bus program.

+ BIO: Bob Seay

Bob Seay is the transportation reporter for WGBH News.

He formerly hosted Morning Edition for WGBH News, and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than three decades. Before joining WGBH in October 2010, Bob was Morning Edition host at Rhode Island Public Radio and the director of community radio station WOMR in Provincetown. For more than 15 years, he was the news and public affairs director at WQRC in Hyannis covering Cape Cod and the islands. Bob has also worked as a host on WBUR.

+ BIO: André Leroux

André Leroux is a consultant who currently leads MassINC’s Transformative Transit-Oriented Development program at the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute.

A native of Worcester, he has extensive experience living and working in our older industrial cities in Massachusetts. Prior to that, he led the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance for 12 years, where he championed zoning reform and other policies to support walkable, affordable, vibrant, and diverse communities. He also serves on the board of Smart Growth America and chairs the planning board for the City of Medford. André studied at Dartmouth College and El Colegio de México in Mexico City, is fluent in Spanish, and is a member of the LGBTQ community.

TTOD "Transformative Transit-Oriented Development" Talks