Chamber backs free bus service in Worcester

Full and original article posted on CommonWealth Magazine

TUCKED INSIDE this week’s transportation funding proposal from the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce was an unusual request.

In addition to offering support for a statewide tolling initiative, a hike in the gas tax, and an increase in rideshare fees, the business group said some of the new revenue should be used to experiment with doing away with fares on the buses operated by the Worcester Regional Transit Authority.

The idea of eliminating the $1.75 bus fare has been percolating in Worcester since May, when the Worcester Regional Research Bureau issued a report suggesting the system was a good candidate for doing away with fares to boost declining ridership. Officials at the Worcester Regional Transit Authority have said they would study the idea, but momentum ratcheted up several notches this week when the local chamber of commerce business group urged lawmakers to use revenue from a transportation funding bill to pay for a three-year test of the concept.

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