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Three no-fare bus routes to remain free for another two years, Wu says

Mayor Wu announced today that the city's dipping some more into its federal Covid relief funds to continue paying to let riders get on the 23, 28 and 29 buses for free for another two years.

Fare free bus routes have been proven to make public transportation more convenient, accessible, and affordable for our residents who depend on transit to get to work and school. Community members have emphasized that this program helps them save money, and encourages more trips without worrying about exact change or rationing travel.

The city adds:

Over the course of the program (since spring 2022), more than 12 million trips were taken on the free routes creating an estimated savings of more than $6 million for riders. About 50% of riders are saving money, on average, saving $35 per month (as of fall 2023). The other half of riders are not saving money because they purchase a pass or always transfer to another transit service.

According to data from the MBTA, Route 23 is at 94% of pre-pandemic ridership, Route 28 is at 102%, and Route 29 is at 64% (as of October 2023). Average dwell times have decreased on Routes 23 and 28. The City will use $350,000 per month in ARPA funding for the extension of the program.

The 23 Bus route (Ashmont to Dorchester Center, Grove Hall & Ruggles), the 28 Bus route (Mattapan Square, up Blue Hill Ave. to Nubian Square & Ruggles) and the 29 Bus route (Mattapan Square, up Blue Hill Ave. to Jackson Square) each serve a diverse ridership, and all three travel through and along Blue Hill Avenue, an important corridor connecting riders who are underserved by the existing transit network. These three routes are some of the routes with the highest ridership throughout the City of Boston, running past schools, libraries, and several Boston Housing Authority developments.



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If they don't collect fares how do they tabulate the number of riders?

You ever notice the reflectors near the doors on a bus? They are more noticeable on the rear door because you can see the sensor also, but the front door has it too.

Yeah those count people getting on/off the bus on all doors.

The T does not get ridership numbers from farebox collection.


The sensors on the doors ABSOLUTELY count passengers as they board and exit the bus. The count can be viewed on the app we have in real time.


I've also sat on two MBTA related boards .. and yes, yes they do.

Thank you I didn't know about the sensors on the buses. Now using the sensor technology the T should inform the riding public what percentage of passengers actually pay their fares on buses systemwide. My next question is has the Transit Police cited or arrested anyone in the past year for refusal to pay their bus fare?

are something transit agencies publish. You can do a small amount of math with that data to figure it out.

from City workers who worked during Covid and used that money to subsidize free bus fares. This money was to be given to the 100’s of essential personnel, who were sold out by their unions to make the Mayor look good.

citation needed

I worked during the pandemic. Federal money was given to the City to compensate essential personnel. The Unions were told employees who worked during the pandemic were to receive no more than $16k depending on salary and hours worked. Unions negotiated with City Hall and the average payout was $5k. Some low wage earners got far less. What happened to the other money? Ask Wu and she’ll tell you all about “free” bus rides. There’s nothing free in this world people.

Why do they need compensation? For doing the job they were hired to do? No. These were NOT the funds for “hazard pay” and you damn well know that AFSME, Boston Fire Union , the BPPA, and the BPDBS would be engaged in a massive PR campaign and lawsuit letting everyone know about it. They’re not because what was said isn’t true.

because essential personnel came in to work every day while nonessential workers stayed home and did nothing for their regular pay. It’s comparable to overtime pay.

Citation needed

Read the article. This is federal money. Conversely, there was a total of 0 layoffs of city employees due to the pandemic. In short, city workers kept on getting paid.

Gripe about this initiative all you want- heavens knows I do- but the funds weren’t taken from city workers.

MA actually got some of its damn money back from the Israel-humping fraud entity that is the U.S. Government, and did something for its working-class citizens.

Attagirl, Wu. Would have liked to have seen domiciles built instead, but small wins, I guess.

Umm, Waquiot...
Anon didn't claim there were layoffs.
I'm not sure what they were claiming, but not layoffs.
Perhaps a reference to some agencies that got what amounted to hazardous duty bonuses - and saying that some group of city employees got less than they might have if the fed money hadn't allegedly been used for underwriting the bus initiative?

The feds didn't earmark the funds for hazard pay, or anything for that matter. The money could have been given to renters to assist with their rent. Could have gone to making sure there is PPE in the future. I'm sure that if the feds didn't want the money going to transit, we'd have heard from them by now, as the last funding came from that source. A lot of cities are using their Covid giveaway for transit.

Again, no Boston city workers were denied their pay, which is typically done through the layoff process, due to Walsh, Janey, or Wu making 3 bus lines free. Anon, like yourself, is making things up.

I didn't say that the feds earmarked funds for hazard pay, you contrarian little feculence!

What I said was (a) that anon did NOT allege the city laid off workers (nor did they allege the city denied workers their regular pay, for that matter, though I didn't get around to saying that); (b) that it wasn't clear what anon WAS talking about; and (c) offered one theory as to what they might have been talking out - namely, alleging that the City denied the workers some sort of extra money that they (anon) somehow decided the workers were owed and alleging that the money went instead to underwriting bus fares.
I did not claim that (c) is, was or ever had been correct - I just offered it as a theory of what they might have been thinking.

I did not make anything up.

you contrarian little feculence

Amazing and brilliant.

Despite what anon claimed and you, for some reason, decided to chime in on.

Who do you think was riding the bus during Covid?

"The other half of riders are not saving money because they purchase a pass or always transfer to another transit service."

This is what I've always wondered about. What good is having fare-free buses if you have a monthly link pass or end up transferring to a rapid transit line.
The T should go back to offering a subway only pass like they did before Charlie cards. Link passes make no sense to be who drive, walk, or bike to subway stations and never or hardly ever use the bus.

1) speed. All door boarding on the articulated buses
2) less conflict for the driver with riders who are going to give them fare hassles, so their quality of life and safety improve
3) money not spent on fares can stay in the community
4) people can take more local trips on the bus line itself, so mobility increases, and people have more access to local stores and medical facilities

The point about his half of riders pay the fare anyway support why fare collection on buses isn't the place to spend money

Finally, the new low income fare will help those folks who qualify on all modes, including expensive Commuter Rail

Nics the proposed new and outrageously expensive bus fare collections system and put the money into free buses system wide. The savings could cover most of it. That is a win win!

If you really want to help the working poor, make buses free.

Instead of trying to fix the T, which desperately needs money. Let’s just make it free so people can’t complain when service sucks.

You would know these routes have had improved service since they eliminated fares. They've increased efficiency by cutting down on loading time and increased the number of riders post-pandemic vs. other routes, reducing traffic for people with big fancy cars like yourself. Its a win-win.

The 25 billion in needed maintenance. How rider or driver commutes have been impacted by free fares doesn’t change that the MBTA needs 25 billion dollars. Free fares contribute nothing to bringing that number down.

The fact that the T is a necessary public good that is expected to provide transportation for the greater Boston area, and the fact that the MBTA needs $25 billion to get back to "a state of good repair" doesn't change that. The $8.4 million, a rounding error on $25 billion, paid to achieve a measurable improvement to people using that public good seems to me to be well worth the price and it literally "fixes" the T's service, per your words.

Are very very different.

your definition very obviously hinges on your massive axe to grind with the Wu admin lol

I was critical of Wu’s free bus program. You realize just because you dislike something someone does doesn’t always mean you have an axe to grid, right? I actually like Wu as a mayor and what I know about her as a person.

I will say though you’re no different than the trumpies painting everything with your broad brush on one data point.

you've given more than one point of data.

Just because I don’t agree with mayor Wu 100% doesn’t mean I’m against her. Open your eyes, life isn’t binary,

That federal money comes with restrictions. They can't actually use it for infrastructure improvements.

When, since the city transferred ownership of the subway to the state 70 years ago, has the city had anything to do with paying the Ⓣ’s debt most of which placed onto it by our last Governor?

I’d like to see the city of Boston implement a flat income tax for all city residents that goes directly towards the mbta. Hell throw some tolls on all highways in and out of the city too.

is that the Mayor is blowing "inflation reducing" stimulus dollars on these fare-free routes at the same time the MBTA is blowing a billion dollars on a new fare collection system. The feds, the city, and the state all seem incapable of collaborating on a long term solution.

One can always cut school funding to buy a few votes with taxpayers money.