A new proposal from Gov. Healey to offer low-income fares throughout the MBTA system has the enthusiastic support of the agency’s general manager, Phillip Eng. The MBTA estimates the cost of the program would be between $52 million and $62 million a year, sums that include administrative and operating costs. More than 60,000 riders are expected to qualify for and enroll in the program, which is expected to result in seven million more trips per year.
If approved by the MBTA Board of Directors, the fare changes would go into effect in this spring and summer. Existing fare-free bus routes are set to run out next month, but Mayor Wu has called for funding to allow them to continue.
During an open house held in Savin Hill last week, the Eng was upbeat about the low-income fare proposal that, he said, would impact every community in the MBTA footprint.
“We are excited about the governor’s proposal in the budget to fund low-income fares and the beauty of this is it does cover our entire territory,” he told the Reporter. “It covers every mode of our transportation system, from commuter rail to light and heavy rail subways, buses, power transit, and water services. If we are looking at the data correctly, it could benefit probably 62,000 riders we see now. We know a lot of folks rely on mass transportation, but we also know from surveys that a lot of them can’t afford it.”
The new program would provide riders aged 26-64, non-disabled, and have low income with reduced fares of approximately 50 percent off on all MBTA modes. Program participants will demonstrate eligibility via existing enrollment in programs with a cutoff of 200 percent of the federal poverty line or lower.
The T said it would hold eight public meetings in January and February on the matter. One is set for this Thursday (Feb. 1) at 6 p.m. at Dorchester’s Cristo Rey Boston High School, 100 Savin Hill Ave.