July 4, 2029
Public transit becomes free to all, reducing traffic and emissions.
This marker is located at 138 Massachusetts Ave in Arlington, Massachusetts.
Free public transport, or zero-fare public transport, was seen as an important step to achieve climate mitigation by people all over the Greater Boston Area. Similar to many other places looking at switching to free public transportation, people became inspired and protested to accomplish this critical change. It wasn’t easy to get policy makers to agree to budget increases necessary for a zero-fare initiative, but people cared enough to hit the streets and demand action. Protesting encourages people to speak up and work towards systemic change, no matter their position. Protesters successfully emphasized that this new way of managing public transport is a more fair means of transportation that is accessible. Additionally, this shift was a necessity if the Greater Boston Area hoped to meet its carbon reduction targets. Having free buses and trains will increase the number of people who are able to use them and also encourage people to make a more sustainable choice when thinking about their means of transportation. Ultimately, obtaining free public transport reduces the amount of vehicles on the road, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Bostonians were inspired by Olympia, Washington. After just a month of zero-fare public transport, there was a 20% increase of passengers, over 60,000 people. At the time, news reports emphasized the amount of citizens' salaries dedicated to public transport fees, showing how a free of charge system would change many people's lives. In an example closer to home, Cambridge found that lower income citizens are more likely to depend on public transport compared to middle or high income people. In a fight for climate justice and transit justice, free public transport is essential for making our communities more equitable. And there are numerous benefits to public transport. In an opinion piece originally published in the local paper, then Cambridge Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon pointed out that one full capacity bus has the ability to take 36 cars off of the Greater Boston Area’s crowded streets, which would additionally reduce pollution. Not to mention that today's buses “release 98% less pollutants into the atmosphere than its 1980 equivalent.”
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To work towards achieving this goal in 2029, this data, along with much more including some gathered from the 100 estimated cities that have zero-fare public transportation, would be presented to committees all throughout the Greater Boston Area. Advocating and protesting for zero-fare public transport will assist the switch that our project envisions materializing on July 4, 2029.
You can read more about Arlington’s own Sustainable Transportation Plan here: https://www.arlingtonma.gov/departments/planning-community-development/transportation-planning
and advocate for implementation with your town representatives.
CNBC.com/Make it, Americans spend over 15% of their budgets on transportation costs – these U.S. cities are trying to make it free
Cambridge City Councilor/Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon, Proposed Fare Free Bus Pilot is a Step in the Right Direction
Town of Arlington, Transportation Planning