Mayor Wu’s free bus program extended after two years

By Hollie Raposo

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced Tuesday that the free bus program would be renewed for two more years. Wu made MBTA bus routes 23, 28, and 29 free in 2022 as one  of her first acts as mayor, using COVID-19 pandemic relief money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

To continue the program, the city is reimbursing MBTA $350,000 a month for a total of $8.4 million over the next two years. ARPA will also continue to contribute a portion of funds. According to the City of Boston, bus riders saved a total of up to $6 million a year and $35 a month without bus fares.

Wu’s office said the free routes are part of the busiest bus areas from Mattapan and Ashmont to Orange Line connections. With the free fare pilot program, the 28 became the most popular bus route in the city. 

Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Ed Markey, who have been working nationally to create a fare-free program, have called this “groundbreaking.” They stated, “public transit should be a public good” and for all people to have access and the right to public transportation. 

Wu said the pilot program not only saved money for people but boosted ridership itself. Creating further impact in the community, the program especially allowed lower income families to afford to get to their jobs paying additional bus fees. Many residents depend on public transportation to do errands such as grocery shopping and going to the bank, or getting to school. 

Wu’s fare-free bus routs changed the system to make public transportation more accessible, and  many people are happy to see it continue for another two years.