This week, the Zero Fare Coalition welcomed a new coordinator, Worcester native Mike Baker!
Baker is a long time WRTA rider who commutes on transit and relies on buses, but as a current PhD student at UMass Boston in Public Policy, he is uniquely qualified to look for policy and design solutions. His background is in accessible design and he serves as a board member for EPIC, an organization that supports disabled youth.
“Zero Fare is a start, but I also want to fight for improved and enhanced transit accessibility in Worcester”
Baker’s PhD research has focused on the geographies of accessibility in Worcester and he hopes to apply this to the Zero Fare movement. In his line of public policy work, he often deals with the competing priorities of economists and activists. He is aware of the dissonance between economics of profit and so called “economics of happiness,” which attempt to create happy and healthy societies to further common wealth and stimulate the economy in turn. Mike is intent on tackling “that gigantic hurdle of getting [policymakers] to realize it’s more than just giving people a free ride.”
In other news, over the course of August, a production of Julius Caesar ran multiple weekly shows in Worcester Common. Notably, as bus service ends well before 10pm on most routes in the WRTA network, many patrons of the show had to leave early to get a ride home. Mike noted specifically that this is emblematic of Worcester’s overall relationship to transit: bus riders are restricted and denied opportunities time and time again.
When bus riders cannot travel home from our jobs, our recreation and our errands, we are subject to government curfews. Simply one more hour of bus service in the evening could open up more recreation opportunities for all of us.
After a few months of recuperation and interim leadership, the Zero Fare Movement has wind at its sails today, and we are excited to fight alongside all of you this fall for more equitable transportation solutions for our city.
Until next week, ride safe.