Boston Mayor Kim Janey has announced the city is piloting a two-month program to explore the impacts on commuter patterns when public transport is free. The trial will offer MBTA and Bluebikes passes for employees who work in five Main Street Districts, all of which are served by MBTA subway and Bluebikes stations.

The goal of the program is to incentivise employees returning to work and workers who currently drive to work to use public transit.

Mayor Janey said, “I’m proud to launch this pilot program with the MBTA and Bluebikes to learn more about the impacts on commuter patterns when the cost of public transit is covered. And as more workers begin in return to workplaces, making transit more accessible is critical to our equitable recovery from the pandemic.”

Transportation Commissioner Greg Rooney says, “Creating incentives to use public transit or bike to work options helps our economy, our environment and our local businesses. As more workers plan on restarting their commute, the Boston Transportation Department is committed to exploring creative ways to reduce traffic, carbon emissions and support Boston’s workers.”

The pilot program will be managed by the City of Boston Transportation Department. It is structured to measure how financial incentives for public transit impact commuting behaviour.

The trail will follow 1000 workers within the five districts. Some will be randomly selected to get an MBTA pass loaded with $60 credit, others will receive smaller stipends over time, which will end up totaling $60. Bluebikes pass-holders will be able to take unlimited trips during the two-month period.

Results from the pilot program will be used to inform the City of Boston’s long-term transportation demand management strategy. The pilot is run through a partnership between the Boston Transportation Department, including its Bluebikes program, Boston Main Street organizations, the MBTA, and the American Cities Climate Challenge.