Tuesday, February 25, 2020

People in Worcester, MA, have their say. They say #freepublictransit.

WORCESTER - Advocates for a fare-free Worcester bus system filled the City Council chamber Monday night to make their case. 
...During 90 minutes of public testimony, 37 people spoke, a vast majority in favor of giving the fare-free system a try. 
Those who spoke included representatives from the local business community, college students, environmental advocates, community and social justice activists, and many everyday riders of Worcester Regional Transit Authority buses. 
“We can lead to way in Worcester by making public transportation free across the board,” said Candria Gray, co-chair of the Zero Fare Coalition and a frequent WRTA bus rider. “There is a clear demand for a fare-free system. We just need the decision-makers to embrace it.” 
Etel Haxhiaj, also with the Zero Fare Coalition, said a fare-free bus system would eliminate a financial burden for many people. That, in turn, would likely increase ridership, she said. 
“Worcester is a city of immigrants, refugees and working families who depend on well-connected bus service,” Haxhiaj said. “To pay for bus service is a big deal for them. People recognize the importance of having a reliable, free and dependable bus service. A Worcester renaissance is not a renaissance without a free transportation system that everyone can benefit from.” 
Many also spoke about the need to make the bus service more reliable and efficient, to expand service to more areas of the city and to have more frequent buses on many routes.
Tanya Whitworth of the Independent Socialist Group said a fare-free WRTA is a crucial first step toward expanding public transportation. Bu,t she added, many bus riders are unhappy with the WRTA’s current reach.