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Boston approves $8M to make 3 bus lines free in 2022

December 2, 2021 GMT

BOSTON, Mass. (AP) — Boston is preparing to cancel bus fares on three Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority bus lines in early 2022, using $8 million from the city’s federal coronavirus relief funds.

The program, which passed the City Council on Wednesday, will repay the MBTA for the free fare on bus lines for two years, The Boston Globe reported on Wednesday. Buses 23, 28 and 29 run through Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury.

The $8 million, a part of the $558 million Boston received from the American Rescue Plan Act, will also be used to publicize the free service and assess the program’s effectiveness, city officials said.

The city has already spent $500,000 of coronavirus pandemic relief funds to cancel bus fares on the 28 bus from August to the end of the year, the newspaper said.

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Mayor Michelle Wu, who proposed the program, said that she will work to secure long-term funds to continue the program.

But Councilmember Frank Baker, who voted against the program, said he had concerns about Boston’s ability to pay for the program past the two years.

City officials said that the recently passed federal infrastructure bill could have potential financing opportunities.

A MBTA spokesperson said the MBTA is talking with the city about any future fare-free expansions.