The fate of our MBTA Youth Pass will be determined in the next few weeks. Just over 10 months ago, we held a ribbon cutting to launch our Youth Pass pilot with representatives from the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Malden and Somerville, and MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. At the time, Secretary Pollack said it was up to organizers to keep pressure on her to make this a reality.
It's now time to do just that and push for the Youth Pass to be a permanent fare category at upcoming MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) meetings. Data from the pilot shows that the program is effective and affordable, and has opened access for youth riders in need. Our municipal partners have proven to be effective administers of the program, which has had no instances of fraud.
"I have more freedom to use the T now, I'm not worried, like, Oh, I don't have money on my T Pass. I can go and use the bus and take the train because it's unlimited. So, it's really good and a big difference," said Larissa Williams, a Youth Pass pilot participant. "When you're struggling with money also, it's really helpful, so I think that it would be a good idea to keep it."
We are also asking for a 60-day extension of the Youth Pass pilot, from July 1 to August 31. This will cover the gap between the end of the pilot on June 30 to September 1, when fare vending machines will begin offering Student (and potentially Youth) Passes.
To improve the program, we need to expand the eligibility range beyond age 21 to include low-income youth up to age 25. Currently, the pilot is available to youth ages 12 to 18 without restriction and to low-income youth ages 19 to 21. Expanding the range responds to the demonstrated need cited by municipal partners and better aligns the pass with workforce and healthcare programs.
"We are asking for your support for these youth. Not saying we are all one, but united we stand, divided we fall," said Youth Pass campaign leader Trae Weekes. "We share similar challenges and one of those youth at risk of losing this opportunity may be your family, or your friend, or even you yourself."