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Poll finds most Mass. voters support free bus service for low income communities

Boston implemented a pilot program to provide free fares on route 28 from Mattapan to Ruggles Station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Boston implemented a pilot program to provide free fares on route 28 from Mattapan to Ruggles Station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Almost three quarters of Massachusetts voters support free bus service for low income neighborhoods, according to a new poll from MassInc Polling Group.

The group polled more than 1,000 voters to gauge consensus on issues including free public transportation and a November ballot measure that would change the state constitution to allow a 4% surtax on any income over $1 million. The revenue generated would go toward public education and transportation.

About 70% of those surveyed supported the proposed tax.

Rich Parr, research director of the polling group, said the results from the new poll signal voters are willing to consider new approaches to funding public transportation.

“I don’t think it necessarily means voters absolutely want to go in that direction,” Parr said. “But I think that there’s definitely an openness to a pretty big rethink of how we pay for public transportation in the commonwealth.”

The results come as Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration works with the MBTA to expand the fare free pilot on the Route 28 bus to two more lines, the 23 and 29.

The two entities hit a roadblock due to a Federal Transit Administration policy that requires any fare change that go beyond six months to be made permanent and subject to formal fare change procedure.

While the administration and the T work out such details, the city extended the Route 28 pilot through Feb. 28.

Also, the Worcester Regional Transit Authority continues to provide fare-free service to its riders at least until the end of the year, while it considers whether to make such service permanent or return to collecting fares.

Related:

Darryl C. Murphy Twitter Reporter
Darryl C. Murphy is a business reporter at WBUR.

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