All Boston students in grades seven through 12 in Boston will be provided with free MBTA passes, starting in the 2019-20 school year. The passes will increase access to the city for students and further their education, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, BC ’09, announced during the annual meeting of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau on March 7.
Free MBTA passes will be distributed to every student, regardless if they attend public, charter, private, or parochial schools. About 20,000 students in Boston who live more than two miles from school already receive free MBTA passes, and this initiative will raise that number to about 30,000.
“Our goal is to expand access and increase equity,” Walsh said, during his speech. “[The initiative] will open up the city to more of our young people. It will foster a new generation of transit riders and transit advocates.”
Boston serves more high-need students and twice the number of those who are economically disadvantaged than any other district in Massachusetts, Walsh said. In addition to providing students with free MBTA passses, Walsh said that this year’s budget proposes to invest $1.14 billion in the Boston Public Schools, the most in the city’s history.
“For our state to be serious about closing achievement gaps, those students must be at the heart of the conversation,” Walsh said.
The MBTA passes will ensure that the entire City of Boston will be accessible to students, according to Tracey Ganiatsos, the Transportation Department’s public information manager. With the help of the passes, students will be afforded the opportunity to visit museums, parks, historic sites, and other points of interest around Boston to further their educations beyond the classroom, she said.
“Having an MBTA pass will ensure that transportation to and from these venues will not be an obstacle for Boston’s young people,” said Ganiatsos.
This change, along with several others Walsh announced including designated pick-up/drop-off areas for ride sharing, support the projects identified in Boston’s long-term transportation plan Go Boston 2030, and Vision Zero, which aims to reduce roadway fatalities.
The decision to distribute free MBTA passes to students is unrelated to the 5.8 percent fare increase approved Tuesday. Details regarding the number of rides per month loaded on the passes and how they will be distributed are not available at this time.
Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor