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21 arrested after protest for MBTA youth passes

A demonstration at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation calling for monthly youth transit passes at a reduced cost ended with the arrest of 21 protesters on Monday, officials said.

About 30 members of the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition took part in a sit-in outside of Secretary of Transportation Richard A. Davey’s office at the Transportation Building in Boston, said coalition staff member David Jenkins, 33, in a telephone interview after he was released from jail Monday night.

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The coalition is calling for a $10-a-month MBTA youth pass, “which would be available to young people ages 12 to 21, valid for use year-round without time or day restrictions,” according to a coalition statement.

Transportation officials responded to the protest, saying in a statement, “MassDOT & the MBTA have expressed a willingness to continue to work with advocates to find ways to make public transportation more accessible and affordable.”

Coalition members spoke to transportation officials about the youth pass and remained at the office until just after 7 p.m., two hours after the offices closed for the day.

Troopers arrested the 11 women and 10 men, mostly young adults, who remained after that time on trespassing charges, State Police said in a statement. All were released on bail later Monday night.

Jenkins said that the protesters “felt finally like we couldn’t be ignored” as a result of the demonstration, but they were disappointed that Davey chose not to address them in person and “continues to ignore the fact that young people can’t afford the cost of the MBTA.”

Davey, in a letter to the coalition, projected a potential loss of $1.95 million to implement the group’s request for a pilot program with 2,500 youth passes, “not including the additional costs for eligibility determination and distribution.”

Jenkins disputes the estimate, claiming that young people spend under $30 a month on the T, which does not sufficiently cover their transportation needs.

MBTA officials said the current student pass is the only pass option that has not faced fare increases recently.

Jennifer Smith can be reached at jennifer.smith@globe.com.
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