September 7, 2021: We have some incredible news to share with you!
Last week, Massachusetts took a massive step forward in the effort to make public transit free on election day. The state legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation favorably reported out H.4095 and S.2519, An Act to Establish Free Access to Ride to Elections in Massachusetts, also known as the FARE Act.
As you may know, the FARE Act would make all bus, subway, and trolley service fare-free for all statewide primary and general elections, which occur every even-numbered year. The FARE Act would apply to the MBTA, as well as the state’s 15 regional transit authorities. While Massachusetts would be the first state to implement a policy like this statewide, the Commonwealth would not be the first jurisdiction to make public transit fare-free on election day. Dozens of communities, such as San Diego, Dallas, and Kansas City, provide free public transit on election day. Most notably, Los Angeles County – which is home to more than 10 million residents and 5 million registered voters – has fare-free public transit for all statewide primaries and elections.
One of the greatest benefits of the FARE Act is that it would help make our elections more equitable and accessible. As we realized in our analysis of the 2020 elections, a steep voter turnout gap along racial, geographic, and socio-economic lines persists in Massachusetts. While whiter, highly educated, suburban communities traditionally experience the highest voter turnout rates, more diverse, less educated, urban communities witness lower voter turnout rates. For example, voter turnout in the November 3, 2020 election reached 90% or higher in suburbs like Sudbury, Dover, and Medfield. But in cities like Springfield, Lawrence, and New Bedford, voter turnout reached 55% or lower. By providing communities like these easier access to the polls, we hope that the FARE Act can help close the state’s gross voter turnout gap.
We've spent the better part of this year leading advocacy efforts around the FARE Act. Now, we need your help to make it law.
H.4095 is currently under consideration in the House Ways and Means Committee. It’s Senate counterpart, S.2519, is currently under consideration in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. If either committee reports the FARE Act out favorably, then that branch of the legislature will most likely hold a floor vote on it.
So, to make the FARE Act law, we need you to contact House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz and Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, and urge them both to support the FARE Act (H.4095 and S.2519). You can reach Chair Michlewitz at Aaron.M.Michlewitz@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2990. You can contact Chair Rodrigues at Michael.Rodrigues@masenate.gov or (617) 722-1114. With their backing, the FARE Act will have an even greater shot of becoming law.
- All of us at MassVOTE