Getting to School: Safety and Equity in Transportation for BPS

From Upham’s Corner to Roxbury Crossing….

...That’s how far 2 miles is, and some young residents of the Dudley Village campus are having to walk that distance twice daily in order to get to school. That’s because in order to get a free “M7” MBTA pass from Boston Public Schools, a high school student must live at least 2 miles from the school building. This means that although some kids receive a free M7 to go to school, internships, jobs, programs, and activities, others have no free way to get to school at all, and if their families can’t afford that additional cost burden every day, then that child has to walk.

  Jeff Rogers (left) and MBTA Officer Christopher Ducharme (right) see how far 2 miles really is.

Jeff Rogers (left) and MBTA Officer Christopher Ducharme (right) see how far 2 miles really is.

But our residents have been taking action to change this, and DSNI is helping to lead the way. On June 14th, DSNI, as part of a Student Transportation Coalition that includes other non-profit groups such as First Teacher and Vital Village, held an event called Getting to School, in Dudley Square at the Bolling Building. This event helped to amplify youth voice in reversing the inequity of the current policy, and highlighted the challenges faced by young people who want their education, but  can’t afford to get to school without an M7.

The event featured interactive exhibits, youth photography, and a panel where young people expressed just how hard it has been to get to school without the help that is freely provided to some students, but not all . Jaylean Sawyer, a Fenway High School student who doesn’t receive an M7, shared how she relies on her boyfriend to “tap her onto the train” every day. If he misses a day, she scrambles to get to school, and might miss school herself. Jaylean’s story is a common one to BPS students.

  Jaylean Sawyer, a Fenway High School student, spoke about her challenges getting to school without an M7 Pass.

Jaylean Sawyer, a Fenway High School student, spoke about her challenges getting to school without an M7 Pass.

Local community leaders, activists, BPS administrators, and MBTA police were in attendance, and many shared the Coalition’s position. Extending the M7 program to all students grades 7 - 12 would take pressure off of MBTA drivers, teachers, school administrators, and MBTA police, all of whom are forced to try and mitigate the issues that arise when students have no consistent, affordable way to get to school. M-7 passes would also provide relief to families, who are concerned about the safety their children.

For more info, or to join the coalition, contact Jeff at JRogers@DSNI.org

PS: Check out Jeff’s article in Boston Parents Schoolyard News, Why Boston Public School Students are Walking 4 Miles Every Day To Receive Their Education.