Community youth marched the streets of Boston Thursday, joined by Harvard students and alumni, to protest Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority fare hikes and service cuts, as well as rally for a discounted youth pass.
The Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition—comprised of 21 greater Boston area youth groups—led what they called the March for Opportuni(T).
The organization advocates for a youth pass that would grant discounted transportation for youth ages 12 to 21.
The potential fare hikes would affect college volunteers and high school participants in after-school programs run by the Phillips Brooks House Association.
PBHA offers reimbursements to participants in some programs, and hikes would significantly impact PBHA as a non-profit.
Victor M. Flores ’13, PBHA after school and in-school programs officer, spread the word of the protest to on-campus organizations and local high schools.
“At Harvard, we sometimes forget that we’re a part of this larger community,” Flores said.
Jackson F. Cashion ’13, an inactive Crimson editor who attended the rally, is currently working with a group of 10 colleges in Boston to push for a university pass.
“College and high school students here don’t have cars. We rely on the T,” Cashion said. “We have more in common than we think, and [college students] should support them.”
Protesters marched from the Park Street T Station to the MBTA Transportation Building, chanting for “Youth Power” and brandishing handmade and printed posters.
Students requested meetings from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78, and the other state representatives, which were all unsuccessful. Patrick and other state representatives did not grant meetings, instead sending staff members in their places.
A small group of students who were hoping to speak to Richard A. Davey of MassDOT were turned away by security at the door, saying the group needed to be accompanied by David V. Jenkins ’03 of the Alternatives for Community and the Environment, who helps support the youth coalition.
Students were upset with MassDOT’s reluctance to speak with them.
“We want to speak for ourselves. This is our fight. We want to show how much we care,” said Denysha Jackson, a junior at Fenway High School in Boston who lives in Roslindale and takes the T to school.
Students spoke in front of the Transportation Building and chanted as workers inside 10 Park Plaza stared down through the glass and security guard blocked the doors.
The march continued to the State House, where students spoke about their attempts to speak to representatives.
After the rally, many students pulled out their CharlieCards and walked to Park Station to take the T back home.
The MBTA board will present their budget proposal to the Massachusetts legislature on April 4.
—Staff writer Kerry M. Flynn can be reached at email@example.com.