Councilor Tito Jackson Proposes Free T Passes for Boston’s High School Students

The current system is based on walking distance.

Who says there’s no such thing as a free ride?

The same year the city launched a tuition-free community college program for students in Boston Public Schools, Councilor Tito Jackson has filed for a hearing on a program that would put more free MBTA bus and subway passes in the hands of the city’s high school students.

BPS is required by law to provide school bus service for all qualifying students from kindergarten through grade 6, and provides MBTA bus and subway passes from grades 7-12. Currently, students in grades 7 and 8 who live more than 1.5 miles from their school, as well as high schoolers who live more than two miles from their school, can qualify for free, seven-day T passes, or M7 passes.

Students who do not qualify for this program receive a stored-value pass, or S pass, which allows them to ride the T at a discounted rate of 85 cents per ride, with a minimum estimated cost of $306 per school year.

“Many students, teachers, and families report each year that students with only an S pass are forced to withdraw from schools and programs that benefit them because they are unable to afford the cost of getting to school especially during the winter months,” Jackson wrote in his order Monday.

Earlier this year, the city launched an initiative that would provide qualifying low-income BPS high schoolers with a least a 2.2 GPA with two years of free tuition at either Roxbury Community College or Bunker Hill Community College. Mayor Marty Walsh has previously expressed interest in expanding the program to Quincy College and Mass Bay Community College.

Jackson’s hearing will be held from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Reggie Lewis Center on Tremont Street in Roxbury.