“The House passage of the Work and Family Mobility Act moves all state residents toward greater road safety, improved security, better public health and a more vibrant economy.”
As has probably caused much concern for your conservative suburban cousins who aren’t even affected by the news but worship bigoted rightwing and sports morning radio nitwits who detest the T and lower-income folks, there will be more free public transit for the people of Boston. Here’s what the city said last week in the latest from a string of announcements that have kept greedy anti-freebie corporeities weepy since last December, when the Boston City Council greenlit Mayor Michelle Wu’s $8 million plan for three fare-free MBTA bus lines. (With Dorchester Councilor Frank Baker casting an unsurprising opposition vote to the measure which aimed to help to “ease financial burdens” for residents, the body used federal pandemic relief funding to cover the program.) That was the beginning, and now, as the Wu administration explained …
“The City of Boston is launching the two-year fare-free program on MBTA bus Routes 23, 28, and 29 on March 1, 2022. This program extends the highly successful fare-free Route 28 pilot program and eliminates fares on two other crucial bus routes. Fare-free buses enable all-door boarding, which eases congestion and speeds up bus service.”
“Riders will still have to pay for transfers to other MBTA routes and services. Nevertheless, as Wu explained, “Expanding fare-free transit to Routes 23, 28, 29 will better connect our communities, increase ridership, and ease congestion for all our residents.” Promising more to come, she added, “As we work to ensure every resident knows about the program, we hope this is just the beginning of access to fare-free public transit in Boston.”
“We were pleased to collaborate with the City on the Route 28 pilot and now to expand the program to include these additional routes for the next two years,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said. “The benefits experienced by customers on the 28 are being expanded to a broader group of riders, and we appreciate the City of Boston’s willingness to make this happen by providing funding.”
“February is Transit Equity Month in Boston,” said Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) Director of Transit Oriented Development Mela Bush Miles. “For the past seven-plus years, we as transit advocates have been developing a vision of fare free transit.
“This is a vision whose time has come. Three free bus routes is just the beginning, we are so excited about this pilot. Public transportation needs to be free for all and should be funded in the same way as other public services. Greener, cleaner, faster and affordable buses is a win for everybody whether they use public transit or not.”
Riders can get more info at boston.gov/free-bus.
For what it’s worth, it’s not just since Wu’s run for mayor that she has been on foot, bus, and subway. Don’t forget, her longtime Twitter handle has been @WuTrain, and she’s ridden the issue since arriving on the City Council eight years ago. Here’s a throwback to a day-in-the-life of then-Councilor Wu in 2018, as told to Curbed:
My first meeting on Monday is a briefing with the city’s transportation department on a dedicated bus lane pilot on the Washington Street corridor from Roslindale Square to Forest Hills. This is one of the most congested stretches in the city and also the first part of my daily commute. Then I take the Green Line and walk to the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) board meeting at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation building. Today I’m testifying about fare inequity on the commuter rail line—more on that later in the week. Then it’s a walk back to the Green Line for a hearing at City Hall.
If you think that’s posturing, then you must not be familiar with just how utterly uncomfortable former mayors Tom Menino and Marty Walsh were even addressing public transportation, let alone using it and advocating for free transit.
In other news sure to appall the Trumper goons in your extended family, on the statewide front, last week the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed the Work and Family Mobility Act, which allows all qualified state residents to apply for a driver’s license, no matter their immigration status. Brazilian Worker Center Executive Director Lenita Reason and 32BJ SEIU Vice President Roxana Rivera, leaders of the organizations co-chairing the Driving Families Forward Coalition, told reporters:
“The House passage of the Work and Family Mobility Act moves all state residents toward greater road safety, improved security, better public health and a more vibrant economy, while holding out the prospect of transformational change for undocumented immigrants across the Commonwealth. The joint pursuit of these many goals is what brings together Driving Families Forward, a broad and diverse coalition of 270 endorsers that includes business associations, labor unions, immigrant advocates, faith groups and many more.”
As we previously noted with interest, the measure was even endorsed by the less-than-woke Massachusetts Major Cities Chiefs of Police Association, “whose members lead two-thirds of the state’s total police force,” “as well as a majority of the state’s district attorneys and sheriffs and dozens of individual chiefs in smaller towns and cities.”
“We now urge Senate leadership to quickly take up this vital legislative proposal, the Senate to pass it, and Governor Baker to follow the overwhelming consensus with his signature, turning the Work and Family Mobility Act into law,” Reason and Rivera added.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.