Youth Pass protesters gathered outside MassDOT offices on March 12, advocating for a $10 monthly student pass.  Photo/BostInno

Massachusetts State Police arrested 21 protesters at the state transportation department main offices in Boston shortly after 7 p.m. Monday, when the group refused to leave the building located at 10 Park Plaza.

According to State Police, 11 female and 10 male protesters, “most, if not all” young adults, were arrested without incident and charged with trespassing.

“The State Police acknowledge and respect the right of the public to peacefully assemble,” State Police said in a statement. “Once the demonstrators had their opportunity to speak their concerns, and the offices closed for the day, their continued presence on the fourth floor constituted trespassing.”

At approximately 1 p.m. Monday afternoon, youth and supporters of the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition staged a sit-in outside MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey’s office at 10 Park Plaza, advocating for a $10 monthly MBTA youth pass pilot-program.

“Three years ago, Secretary Davey agreed to pilot an MBTA Youth Pass if we helped find revenue for the project. We have, but we keep being asked to wait,” said Kenisha Allen of the YAC Leadership Team in a prepared statement.

“We are now sitting in because we have no other choice – we’re done being ignored.”

Around 6:30 p.m. Monday night, a crowd of about 60 protesters were still gathered at MassDOT’s Boston offices after the building closed, a Boston Police Department spokesperson told BostInno. At the time, protesters had not been given a time frame to leave.

“Right now they are peaceful and cooperative,” the BPD spokesman told BostInno, shortly before 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Since 2007, YAC members have met with T and MassDOT officials and engaged in public hearings on a regular basis, while working with other organizations to secure additional state funding for the transit system.

In February, YAC organized an online Twitter protest in support of a $10, restriction-free youth pass for students 12-21 years old.

In March, YAC protesters and supporters marched in the rain on 10 Park Plaza, where the group proceeded to stage a “die-in” advocating for the affordable student T pass.

“Why isn’t Secretary Davey meeting his promises? Why does he say what we want to hear without making any moves?” Allen continued in the statement. “This is not a joke. We’re here to stay.”

In a prepared statement, the MBTA said it has made improvements to its Student Pass system, which now includes extended hours and weekends.

Currently, the T offers both Monday through Friday and seven-day monthly passes for Junior and High School students for $25 and $28, respectively. Student T-passes are good for unlimited travel on bus, subway Express Bus and Commuter Rail Zone 1A, 1 and 2 on school days, according to the T’s website.

It’s important to note, when the T’s fare hikes kick-in July 1, student T-passes will be the only fares to receive a reduction, where both 5- and 7-day passes will cost $26.

The cost for a monthly Link pass will jump from $70 to $75.

Last January, the Deval Patrick Administration filed its transportation and finance plan, “The Way Forward Plan,” with the state legislature. “The plan would have made significant investments to improve our transit network system across the state and would have allowed the MBTA to consider a wide range of service improvements such as a Youth Pass,” the T’s statement continued.

“The legislature rejected our plan”

The T and MassDOT say they “look forward to a continued dialogue” with all transportation advocates.

 

Photos via BostInno