By Zoe Mitchell
BU News Service
The Boston City Council will consider a proposal to provide free MBTA passes to all high school students in the city. The council voted Wednesday to hold a hearing on the initiative.
The proposal would provide a seven-day monthly combined T/Bus pass, or M7 Pass, to every 9th- through 12th-grade student enrolled in public, private and “colloquial” schools.
The proposal would cost an estimated $650,000 a year to implement, according to Councillor Tito Jackson.
Jackson, who introduced Motion 1265, said that the proposal is imperative for Boston Public Schools to adhere to the Opportunity and Achievement Gap Policy instituted on July 15 of this year.
“It is a right to be able to go to school, we should ensure that people are able to actually get there and to be able to close that opportunity and achievement gap,” Jackson said.
Currently, Boston Public Schools provides free M7 passes to student based on how far away a student lives from school. A high school student must live at least two miles away to receive a free pass.
Students who do not meet the requirements receive a stored-value pass, or S pass, at a reduced fare of 85 cents per ride. This costs at least $306 a year for these students to get to and from school everyday.
Jackson said that for some families, this is too expensive. For a mother of three, he said, the yearly total for for school transportation is over $1,000. Jackson also said that in some instances, teachers pay out of pocket for their students’ S passes.
“The discounted pass is like not giving them a pass at all. Families can’t afford to get to school,” Jackson said.
Jackson said that the pass has other benefits for students. A free MBTA pass would ensure the safety of female students who have to walk through dangerous neighborhoods and assist students with required community service or extracurriculars to travel the city.
“Boston belongs to the students across the city,” Jackson said. “We have a historic city and all of our young people should be able to get to and around all of the city.”
The motion was also supported by Councillors Michelle Wu, Michael Flaherty, Annissa Essaibi George, Ayanna Pressley, Salvatore Lamattina, Timothy McCarthy, Matt O’Malley, Andrea Campbell and Bill Linehan.
The council has yet to set a date for the hearing.