'Freedom to Move Act' Would Provide Federal Support for Free Transit Programs

New legislation by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) would also target fare enforcement on the nation's transit systems.

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July 6, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Subway Turnstiles

Benoit Daoust / Shutterstock

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) recently introduced the Freedom to Move Act according to an article by Alissa Walker. "Under the program — which is co-sponsored by Senator Ed Markey, the co-author of the Green New Deal — $5 billion in annual competitive grants would be made available to agencies that offer fare-free transit access. This way, transit agencies can use that money to improve service or stops without worrying about making up for lost fare revenue."

Rep. Pressly co-founded the "Future of Transportation" caucus in 2019, in an acknowledgement of the regressive nature of federal transportation policy, and co-authored a bill to fund local Vision Zero programs along with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

Walker interviewed Rep. Pressly for insight into the motivation behind the new Freedom to Move Act. For instance, writes Walker, "a key goal of Pressley’s legislation is also to eliminate fare enforcement, which she says disproportionally targets Black transit riders like herself. In New York City, a 2020 Community Service Society study showed that enforcement rates are 60 percent higher at stations in high-poverty Black and Latinx communities, with fare checks more likely to end in arrest."

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