Local

MBTA expands Youth Pass program with online access

The COVID-19 pandemic motivated the T to launch a new online youth pass application that makes it easier to apply for the reduced fare program.

Lane Turner/Globe Staff
Passengers leave the new Amory Street MBTA station.

The MBTA wants to make it easier for low-income young people to ride the transit system at a reduced fare rate.

This week, the T announced the launch of a new secure online application for its MBTA Youth Pass program, which provides eligible young people with half-priced one-way fares.

According to the MBTA, more than 3,900 young people enrolled in the youth pass program between November 2020 and October 2021. The transit agency said its already received 4,567 applications for the current youth pass program. 

The new online application comes at a critical time for Boston’s eligible youth and young adult population. It streamlines the process for youth riders who previously had to complete the application process in person at their local Youth Pass office.

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Before, young riders had to bring their eligibility documents and submit a paper application in person. But the COVID-19 pandemic made the T prioritize putting the application online, so it would be accessible for young riders looking to sign up remotely. 

“Providing young adults with more convenient access to this secure, easy-to-use application is another step in providing broader access to the MBTA’s system through the Youth Pass’s discounted fares and monthly passes,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a press release. “We continue to be excited to expand the reach of the Youth Pass through our municipal and community partnerships, and we’re proud to see the official launch of this online application, which we aim to expand to other reduced fare programs in 2022.”

The online application is available at mbta.com/youthpass/apply in English, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese. The web portal lets riders upload their eligibility documents and choose to have their Youth Pass card mailed or pick it up from their local Youth Pass office.

The MBTA aims to expand the youth pass program to more areas outside the city and suburbs. The agency also launched a marketing campaign through the T’s social media accounts and in-station digital screens to spread the word about the new online portal.

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T officials said they plan to expand online applications to other free and reduced-fare programs in 2022.

What to know about the MBTA Youth Pass

The MBTA Youth Pass allows young low-income riders to buy 50 percent reduced one-way fares or $30 monthly LinkPasses for the bus, subway, and Fairmount Line Zone 1A stations. Eligible riders can also purchase half-priced one-way fares for the Commuter Rail, Express Bus, and ferry.

To be eligible for the pass, riders must:

  • Live in a participating city or town.
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 25 and enrolled in a Youth Pass partner program, such as MassHealth, SNAP, Year Up, or public housing.
  • Or be between the ages of 12 and 17 and unable to get a Student CharlieCard through school.

Towns participating in the T’s Youth Pass program include Arlington, Attleboro, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Framingham, Lexington, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Wakefield, Watertown, and Worcester, as well as several towns on the North Shore.

Youth Passes for the 2022 program year are valid through Oct. 31, 2022. 

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