The City of Newton has announced plans to join the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Youth Pass program, which provides some people from ages 12 to 25 with substantial discounts and affordable access to public transportation in Greater Boston.
An MBTA Youth Pass will allow eligible Newtonians to purchase one-way fares at a 50 percent discount and monthly LinkPasses for $30, according to an April 1 newsletter from Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller. A regular monthly LinkPass costs $90.
According to Nicole Freedman, the city’s director of transportation planning, the goal of the Youth Pass program is to accommodate the needs of lower-income communities in commuting to work, school, and other functions. Newton’s poverty rate is 4.3 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“There are substantial numbers of people in Newton that are low income, and we want to make sure that we are supporting them,” Freedman said. “I think these people are overlooked. Newton is a higher-income town, but there are definitely people that are struggling. I absolutely feel that it is important that we focus on these people.”
The reduced-cost LinkPasses can be used at any area bus, subway, and Fairmount Line Zone 1A commuter station, according to the newsletter. The 50 percent one-way fares apply to Commuter Rail, Express Bus, and ferry rides purchased by Youth Pass holders.
To obtain a Youth Pass, riders must be between 18 and 25 and enrolled in a state or federal benefit program or in an alternative education program, according to Freedman. Minors between age 12 and 17 can qualify for the pass if they are not enrolled in middle or high school, according to the newsletter.
Students enrolled in a Newton public middle or high school can qualify for a Student CharlieCard. College students may be eligible for a separate semester pass, Freedman said.
Newton is joining the growing list of cities in the greater metro area that have joined the Youth Pass program, including Arlington, Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge. After demand grew for the program, Fuller decided it was necessary for Newton to join the program, according to Freedman.
“We had heard from some of our constituents that they were interested in purchasing these types of passes, but at that time Newton was not a participant in the program,” Freedman said. “Mayor Fuller knew that this was important and wanted us to sign up as quickly as possible. So we did, and we’ve already had some applicants go through the system. And I’m sure we will have many more.”
The program is set to roll out in the coming weeks, according to Freedman.
“So far we haven’t run into any problems,” she said. “Now that we’ve got the logistics up and running, our job is to start promoting [the program]. We want to make sure people who are eligible know that they can get the passes.”
Residents can apply for the youth pass through the MBTA website.