Young people from the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC), Mayor Gary Christenson, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, MBTA and local elected officials along with students and families celebrated the start of the MBTA Youth Pass pilot program in Dudley Square with a ribbon cutting ceremony. YAC’s core goal is an affordable Youth Pass for everyone ages 12 to 21, available all year, with no time or day restrictions. This pilot program is the result of eight years of youth-led campaigning for a more affordable and accessible public transit system. The pilot program runs from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, with weekly ($7) and monthly ($26) passes available to 1,500 youth ages 12 to 21 in Malden, Boston, Chelsea, and Somerville.
Following the launch, program participants Shihua Wu of Boston, Nicole Baltazar of Malden, and Jonathan Perea of Chelsea led the crowd in the ceremonial first “tap” of the new Youth Pass. “Students consider transportation and fares as problems in joining activities. With the Youth Pass, we will save money and can join other activities that will enhance our academics,” said Youth Pass holder Nicole Baltazar of Malden. “It’s also important for seniors like me. I’m going on campus tours at colleges in Boston and I also need to save money for college and books.”
After a demonstration last year, the MBTA agreed to set up a working group to develop a Youth Pass pilot program. As part of the working group, YAC members helped develop the pilot, which was presented to the MassDOT board for review in December 2014. In the spring of 2015, the pilot was approved as part of the 2015-2016 MBTA budget. Data will be collected on the pilot ridership for the MBTA, which will be used to shape the full program.
“I was convinced by our youth advocates of how important affordable public transit is to them. The Orange Line is one of our City’s greatest assets and we want everyone to be able to afford this convenience,” said Mayor Gary Christenson. “We are very proud to be one of the first four cities in Massachusetts to launch this pilot program and provide a reduced fare pass to our youth.”