21 Arrested in Protests for MBTA Youth Pass

(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Boston) - Dozens of teens and young adults protested outside and inside the Massachusetts Transportation Building Monday to renew efforts to push state leaders to approve a so-called Youth Pass.

The Youth Pass would allow 12 to 21 year olds to purchase a monthly MBTA pass with no restrictions for just $10.

Allyah Stoner, a teen from Roxbury, said, "It’s been seven years, seven years too long for us to be still talking about the youth riders crisis, still talking about how thousands of youth everyday can’t get to school, work opportunities or other stuff."

"It’s not something we want, it’s something we need, I see kids stranded everyday at train stations, I see bus drivers kicking kids off the bus because they don’t have funds," 16-year-old Trae Weekes of Dorchester said.

The group Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition, or YAC, staged the protest and day-long sit-in with the goal of urging Transportation Secretary Richard Davey to run the youth pass pilot program in the fall.

Armando Barragan, a 17 year old from East Boston, said, "We did get to talk with the General Manager and she seemed to want to talk with us but she didn’t say anything and just said what she said before in the other times that we met with her and she just didn’t really want to commit to the Youth Pass and neither did Davey."

The teens said they were not able to speak with Secretary Davey before the close of business, and after two warnings from police to leave or they would be arrested for trespassing, YAC leaders say about 20 to 25 teens who remained in the Transportation offices were taken into custody.

"The arrests were a point we didn’t want to get to but it had to be crossed," Stoner said.

"We’re not going to back down, seven years okay we’ll keep going for it, we’ll keep going until we have our youth pass," Weekes said.

Transportation officials released a statement saying, "MassDOT & the MBTA have expressed a willingness to continue to work with advocates to find ways to make public transportation more accessible and affordable. We extended the offer to meet and have a reasonable discussion about what we can do within the confines we must work in. We continue to extend that offer and look forward to continuing this conversation."

Massachusetts State Police say 11 adult females and 10 adult males were charged with trespassing and expected to be released on a $40 bail fee and personal recognizance. They are expected to appear in Boston Municipal Court this Thursday.

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