Next Stop #1 - No Ticket to Ride

WED, MAY 4, 2022 (1:24)

At the start of the pandemic, federal subsidies helped to keep public transit running even though there were few passengers. There was less of a need to collect fares and in fact many Regional Transit Authorities did not. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu first promoted the idea of free bus service as a city councilor, the idea became reality when she took office.

Using 8 million dollars in federal Covid relief money, Mayor Wu made 3 of the busiest routes in Boston free for the next 2 years. Other transit agencies like the Merrimack Valley and Worcester RTAs are also adopting fare free models. And the creation of a means-tested fare system to make transit more affordable for low income riders is under consideration by the MBTA with the encouragement of many transit advocacy groups.

We will look at the pros and cons of making mass transit more affordable.
How do we create free fares, or lower fares for low-income riders? What would affordable transportation look like? What is the effect on ridership? And what will happen to the current fare free pilots when the COVID-19 relief funds are depleted?

Resources

UnFare Deal report: How Fare Policy at Baker’s MBTA Transfers Wealth from Riders to Corporations

H. 4481 An Act Relative to Low Income Fares

Low-Income Fare savings white paper

Polling from MassINC

Fair Share Amendment

A low-income fare at the MBTA would bolster struggling Massachusetts families with $500 annual savings per rider

+ BIO: Noah Berger

Noah Berger has almost thirty years experience working in the field of public transportation, spanning the public, private and non-profit sectors. He was appointed to serve as the Administrator/CEO of the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority by its Board in July 2021.

Prior to that, he has held leadership positions with the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, Connecticut Transit, the Greater Hartford Transit District, the Federal Transit Administration, the Boston Foundation, the MBTA Advisory Board, Cambridge Systematics, the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, as well as Boston’s Parker Shelter, Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders, and the New York Yankees. He is recognized across the transit industry as an expert in federal transportation policy, funding and requirements, transit planning, community engagement, ferryboat transportation, transit maps, the interface between transit and social justice, transit oriented development, human service transportation coordination, placemaking and public art.

He is an exhibited oil painter, and has served on the boards for ARTmorpheus in Boston and the New Art Center in Newton, MA. He is author of By Bus, Bike or Boat: A Rider’s Guide to Public Transit in Greater Burlington and Vermont, and “The Guardian of the Birds” in John Abarno’s The Ethics of Homelessness: Philosophical Perspectives, and has Master’s Degrees in City Planning from M.I.T., and Philosophy from the State University of New York.

+ BIO: Mela Bush-Miles

Pamela Bush Miles is a nationally recognized climate and environmental justice activist and organizer with over 20 years of experience building organizations, programs and movements that achieve climate and transit equity wins for low-income communities and communities of color. Initially inspired by her children’s battles for air and for life against debilitating asthma, Mela has worked tirelessly to eliminate pollutants in the low-income communities where she lived and worked. As the regional expert in public transit equity Mela organized communities in a 20 mile area to advocate for and eventually achieve commuter rail stops in low-income communities. These stops became vital for building economic empowerment in formerly blighted communities.

+ BIO: Matsueda Lee

Since 2001, Lee has worked to build and grow nonprofit organizations in Dorchester and Roxbury. Most recently as Political Director at Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), Lee helped to ensure that workers and environmental justice communities most impacted by the climate crisis had a strong voice in developing long-term solutions that advanced a more sustainable economy.

Lee has been inspired by community and union members and that he’s worked with who choose to come together to fight for their rights against all odds. He believes deeply in building strategic coalitions and partnerships to create significant and transformative change. Lee is no stranger to CLU—he has been an active participant in CLU’s Green Justice Coalition since its inception and also serves on CLU’s Board of Directors.

Lee finds peace and restoration in nature, hiking in forests or spending time near water with his family and dog, or visiting one of the most sacred places he has been to, Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui, Hawaii (this is also where his immediate family is from). Lee has a Bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies in the Advocacy for Social Justice & Sustainability Program at Antioch New England Graduate School.

+ 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.

Partner
Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA)
Series
Next Stop: The Future of Mass Mobility
Recommended Lectures