December 11, 2014 UPDATE:
Our Youth Pass pilot will be starting in July 2015! The MassDOT Board of Directors has approved our pilot, which is now part of the MBTA's FY2015-2016 budget. Thank you members for all your help in achieving this major victory!
August 14, 2014
Following our Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition’s (YAC) sit-in in June, which ended in arrests of Youth Pass supporters, the MBTA agreed to set up a working group to develop a pilot program for our Youth Pass. YAC members will participate in the project planning and research, preparing for a trial period beginning July 2015.
The formation of the working group represents a crucial shift in MassDOT’s attitude towards the Youth Pass. For the past seven years of the campaign, transportation officials have repeatedly delayed progress and refused to take the project seriously. Secretary Richard Davey would not meet with us during the sit-in, continuing to ignore the youth rider crisis. After 21 supporters were arrested outside of his office and dozens more were barred from testifying at a public hearing the following week, he and MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott finally agreed to sit down with us and fulfill a three-year old commitment to implement a pilot program.
The working group will be about one-quarter youth with six YAC members, along with two adult allies, MassDOT officials, outside consultants and representatives from our friends at Public Transit-Public Good. The group will meet every two weeks to design the pilot, work through logistics and reach out to partners. MassDOT’s Board will vote on the project in December, and if approved, will be implemented in July 2015 with at least 1,000 to 1,500 participants for at least 6 to 12 months.
Our working group is merging with an existing University Pass (UPass) group, which already includes several Youth Pass supporters. With partner organizations, we designed the University Pass to fully fund the Youth Pass by distributing discounted passes to Boston-area colleges and universities. Students will enjoy unlimited bus and subway access, and the MBTA will have a reliable revenue source dedicated to the Youth Pass. College students have expressed interest in the proposal and we are in conversation with several schools about making the pass a reality. Together, these two passes can dramatically increase the mobility of young people in our region and cultivate a life-long appreciation of public transportation, creating a transit generation.
Thank you for all your support of this campaign! This year, we’ve won major victories for affordable and accessible transit, from the inclusion of weekends in the Student Pass starting this fall to this crucial step towards a permanent Youth Pass. Stay tuned for updates from the working group and ways to stay involved.