(TNS) — Boston is giving away free MBTA passes to 1,000 city workers in five neighborhoods hard-hit by the coronavirus as part of a pilot program that aims to cut costs and create equity as the Hub emerges from the pandemic.
"It's very important in terms of recovery," acting Mayor Kim Janey said after unveiling the program during an MBTA rally on Monday morning. "We have to lift up workers and make sure that they have access to reliable transportation. That is essential to an economic recovery that is equitable."
The city will dole out CharlieCards preloaded with $60 and two-month Bluebikes passes to the first 1,000 workers who sign up, Janey said. Nubian Square, Mission Hill, East Boston, and Fields Corner workers and those employed in Three Squares — which includes Jackson, Hyde and Canary Squares in Jamaica Plain — are eligible. City officials said they are working to expand the program to workers in other main streets districts, according to a press release. People can sign up online through the city's website or by texting "free ride" to 866-396-0122.
"By doing this, we hope to ensure that there will be more equity as we, not get back to normal, but get to a more equitable Boston," said Janey, a Roxbury resident and regular T rider. Each of the five targeted main streets districts are served by a Bluebikes station, bus route and subway line. The program seeks to evaluate whether cutting cost barriers for public transit could help reduce traffic in small business districts, a press release said.
This pilot program will be phased over the next two months, according to the press release on the city's website.
Some participants will be randomly selected and will get a Charlie Card with the full $60 preloaded right away, others will see the amount split up. Bluebike pass-holders will be able to take as many trips as they like during the two-month period covered by the pass. The trips must be completed within 45 minutes to avoid usage fees.
"This transit pilot and other new approaches will play a key role in Boston's recovery, reopening, and renewal," Janey said.
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