March 27, 2014
This week, our Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC) won a major victory when the MBTA announced that come fall, schools and Student Pass holders will now be able to purchase a seven-day pass for the price of a five-day pass.
Removing the weekend restriction on Student Monthly Passes has been a central demand of YAC over the past year. About 21,000 middle and high school students in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the MBTA service area use the five-day pass and are forced to pay fares for weekend travel.
Young people brought this demand to lift the weekend restriction to the General Manager and her staff repeatedly over the past year. This month, YAC members testified on the need to protect students from the fare hike at the MassDOT Board meeting and held a spirited march for a Youth Pass through downtown Boston.
These changes were unveiled as part of the MBTA’s proposed fare hike plan for July 1. In 2013, work by YAC and our partners for affordable public transit helped put an end to dramatic, double-digit hikes by introducing a fare increase cap of no more than five percent every two years.
While most fares will jump about five percent this year, the recent $1 rollback on The Ride will remain untouched, thanks to the sustained, powerful organizing by Massachusetts Senior Action Coalition (MSAC). Students are not exempt from the fare hike, as the five-day Student Pass will cost a dollar more, from $25 to $26—but crucially, the price of the seven-day pass falls from $28 to $26, making the more inclusive pass the common sense choice for student mobility.
This tremendous youth-led victory will give 25,000 students in the 2014 to 2015 academic year weekend access to trains and buses for school events, jobs, medical appointments, family obligations, sports, arts, cultural activities and more.
“I won’t have to miss work on Saturdays,” said YAC leader Kenisha Allen. “This might be a minor change for the MBTA, but it’s a big step for our opportunities.”
Congratulations to the youth of REEP, Boston-area Youth Organizing Project (BYOP), Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC)/Youth On Board, Bikes Not Bombs, Chelsea Collaborative ECO, Chinese Youth Initiative (CYI) of Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), Dorchester Bay Youth Force, Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA), Youth Justice Power Union (YJPU) and more for this far-reaching milestone!
We also want to send a huge shout out and thank you to our partners in the Public Transit-Public Good Campaign, and our deep appreciations to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and BPS Superintendent John McDonough for supporting this effort.
One step within a much larger campaign:
Our Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP) and partners have been fighting for a Youth Pass since 2007 through the Youth Way on the MBTA campaign and YAC, a coalition run by REEP.
The Youth Pass would have no day or time restrictions, cost $10 per month and be available to all young people between the ages of 12 to 21. This pass is our solution to the youth rider affordability crisis in which one-third of Boston youth regularly miss out on opportunities because of unaffordable fares.
“It’s nice to see the T do something after seven years,” said Luis Navarro, a YAC leader since 2012. “Just recently they were saying this isn’t possible. We’re hoping the shift means Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey will finally step up and address the fact that youth in general can’t afford to ride.”
We are calling on the MBTA to continue opening transportation access by supporting the implementation of the Youth Pass, starting with a pilot in 2014. In recent weeks, YAC has collected thousands of petition signatures in support of this effort, testified at the MassDOT Board of Directors meeting and staged a “die-in” to represent the opportunities lost while we wait for the MBTA to act. Please sign and share the petition!