Wu Outlines Plan to Eliminate Fares on 3 Boston Bus Routes for 2 Years

The program will especially benefit low-income riders as well as people of color, the mayor said

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Mayor Michelle Wu on Thursday outlined her plan to eliminate fares on three Boston bus routes as part of an effort to make public transportation more accessible to low-income riders and others hard hit by the pandemic.

The proposal, for which Wu requested $8 million, will ditch fares on the 23, 28 and 29 buses for two years, expanding on the four-month pilot program launched by former Mayor Kim Janey that made the 28 bus free.



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The program will especially benefit low-income riders as well as people of color, Wu said.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu outlined plans to make three bus routes free for at least two years Thursday.

"More than 59% of riders on these bus lines are low income. More than 96% of these bus lines -- commuters are people of color," she said. "So, by taking this action, we truly will connect our communities and supercharge our recovery."

While New York City was coming under fire last year for increasing police presence in the subway to deter fare evasion, Kansas City, Missouri, was implementing free public transit, becoming the biggest city in the U.S. to do so. NBCLX contributor Ludwig Hurtado explores how the overhaul has affected KC residents and what it could mean for other cities across the country.

The mayor also pointed out that, while bus and subway ridership now stands at 53% of pre-pandemic levels, ridership on the 28 bus spiked to 92% of where it was before the pandemic.

The three MBTA bus routes serve several parts of both Dorchester and Mattapan.

The money would come from federal recovery funds. The proposal will have to be approved by the city council, but Wu said she doesn't anticipate encountering any hurdles there.

If approved, the program will launch next year.

It's a hotly debated issue in the leadup to next week's mayoral election, but how would it work? And who is going to pay for it?
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