MBTA to Meet With Universities About New Student ‘UPass’

The transit agency is looking to launch a pilot program with a select few schools.

Photo By Olga Khvan

Photo By Olga Khvan

College students taking the MBTA’s trains and buses in the Greater Boston area could soon have a new pass—embedded in their university ID cards—to help them get around.

Transit officials confirmed Wednesday that they’re moving forward and meeting with local colleges to discuss partnering on a new “UPass” pilot program, which would offer students attending classes and living near the T a LinkPass through their respective schools at a significantly reduced price.

“We look forward to presenting this exciting opportunity to the higher education community,” said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

While he confirmed that the T has “meetings this month with some local institutions,” Pesaturo would not name which schools T administrators plan to sit down with to discuss the proposal.

In a presentation to MassDOT’s Board of Directors last month, the T originally indicated that it would be targeting Harvard, Northeastern, and Tufts University when moving forward with their plan, but said that any university was welcome to contact them to discuss the pending pilot program.

According to details of the pilot program, first reported by Boston back in December, if implemented the “UPass” could generate roughly $11 million in revenue for the MBTA, so long as at least three universities decide to opt into the partnership.

The T still needs to develop contractual agreements, as well as an evaluation and implementation plan, but the pilot is expected to launch this summer and last one year. If successful, the MBTA will explore the option of extending the special pass program beyond that period.

The T hopes that by offering discounted options it will increase overall ridership, and promote the appeal of taking public transportation to young people in the area. “We came up with 47 colleges and institutions that we consider to be close enough to rapid transit and buses to use the passes,” Pesaturo told Boston in a previous interview. “Some day we’d love to have all 47 be part of this program. It’s great for them, and great for the environment, and a win-win for everyone.”