MBTA discusses expanding reduced fare program

BOSTON — The MBTA Fiscal Control Board is exploring the possibility of reducing T and Commuter Rail fares for communities where residents have been priced out of Greater Boston due to the housing crisis and are forced to commute in for work.

After calls to action from riders, the board discussed the feasibility of an expanded reduced fare program. Currently, income-eligible seniors and youth up to 25 qualify for a 50% or more discount. After some debate, the board took no action on the issue due to the lack of data on how much the program will cost in lost revenue, how the eligibility process will work, and whether the MBTA should fix the existing issues with the youth fare program before extending more discounts.

They told Boston 25 News the riders who live in gateway cities like Lynn, Worcester, and Haverhill are paying up to 15% of their incomes on transportation into Boston where the jobs are on the T and Commuter Rail.

“If we want to have a productive economy, if we want to reduce the expenses to taxpayers all around the Commonwealth... how do we get people to where the jobs are? And if the housing markets pushing them further away from them, we have to have a solution for that. Helping them afford to get on a train in the long run benefits the taxpayers in the Commonwealth,” said Research Director MassINC Ben Foreman.

To put some of this in perspective, the cost of a link pass to someone who lives in Worcester is over $300 and the average income is under $30,000, according to the census.

The Fiscal Control Board is expected to meet next month to discuss the issue, but it doesn’t look like any action will be taken anytime soon.

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