MBTA Student Fares Excessive, Say Demonstrators Demanding Youth Pass
BOSTON – Calling for an affordable MBTA youth pass, a coalition of groups held a rally and march on Thursday claiming that the existing reduced fares for students shuts out many young people from riding the T.
Around 250 demonstrators marched from Park St. station to the offices of the MBTA at the Transportation Building demanding a youth pass for those between 12-21 years of age, with no time-of-day use restrictions, and costing no more than $10 per month.
According to a letter delivered to the MBTA by the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC) during the demonstration, “thousands and thousands of us – our peers, friends, and classmates – have missed school, work, essential services, and many other opportunities for enrichment, community, and culture, because we cannot afford the price of the MBTA.”
The fare for junior high and high-school students is currently half the price of standard fares, and they are eligible for a 5-day pass costing $25 a month, and a 7-day pass costing $28 a month, according to the MBTA’s website.
The groups participating in the demonstration also included the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the Boston Teachers Union (BTU), Tufts Transit Coalition (TTC), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Boston Youth Organizing Project, the Greater Boston Labor Council, Community Labor United and the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, the latter of which previously hit out at fare increases for The Ride service for older people and people with disabilities.
Stephan MacDougall, an international representative of the ATU – which represents MBTA drivers – told the rally that “a community, and a society, is judged by how they treat their youth. “I drove a bus and a street car on the MBTA, and I never knew that I was making children pay taxes through me to the state,” he continued, “so as billionaires get tax cuts, our children are asked to pay taxes” through transit fares, which he described as “not fair.”
In a statement to Open Media Boston, MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo refuted the claims of the protestors, saying “No major transit system in the country offers students a better deal than the MBTA.
“Beginning July 1st, a very affordable $26 monthly pass will provide students with unlimited travel on buses and the subway. That’s just [one-third] the cost of a regularly priced monthly pass,” he continued.
Jessica Tang, director of organizing at the BTU told the rally that “as educators we know how important [public transit] is for our young people not just to get to school, but also after school for extra-curricular activities, for youth jobs, for so many reasons why a youth pass is necessary; and we support this effort 110 per cent.”
Alex Wallach Hanson, member of the TTC told the rally about the need for a pass for university-level students, saying “affordable mass transit is a lifeline to everything the youth need, it’s how we get to school, it’s how we get to a job, it’s how we get around the city, and the T says, ‘no,’ but we are here today to say, ‘yes,’ that we need a youth pass, and we need a youth pass now.”
Roxana Rivera, district leader of the SEIU local 32BJ linked the demand for an affordable youth T pass to the recently announced layoff of MBTA janitors, telling the rally that “as we join together to fight for an affordable youth pass the families of many of the same youth that are riding the T will be affected once again by yet another misguided decision by the MBTA.
“MBTA has announced that they will be cutting jobs of nearly a hundred janitors on September first, but they are asking that the remaining 200 janitors carry the workload of the hundred janitors they are displacing; the cut it goes too deep, and the burden is too large for our workers and families of our communities, we need to say enough is enough,” she continued.
For more coverage, check out this video from our colleagues at Press Pass TV: