Come on and take a free ride. That’s what the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is telling its employees, announcing this week the rollout of a free pass providing unlimited MBTA train and bus rides to faculty and staff at the Cambridge campus.
The pass, an MIT identification card with the T’s CharlieCard chip embedded directly into it, is part of the Access MIT program, “an initiative to create a variety of affordable, low-carbon transportation options” for the school community, according to officials.
The Access MIT program also includes increased subsidies for commuter rail tickets and parking at T lots for school employees; and a transition from yearly to pay-per-day parking payments at most of the school’s gated lots.
This way, employees can drive one day to the campus, and take the T the next, the school said, giving them a range of commuting options.
“The institute will be one of the largest employers in the state to provide this level of universal transit benefits,” said Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer, in a statement.
By providing employees with the pass, the school hopes to ease the demand for parking near campus and help reduce carbon emissions, the university said.
The new pass is an expansion of a successful pilot project launched in 2010, called the MIT Mobility Pass, that involved 1,000 school employees.
The pilot was developed by the MIT Transit Lab, in collaboration with the school’s Parking and Transportation Office.
“Based on the success of the pilot, MIT has decided to expand the program to include all benefits-eligible MIT faculty and staff at the Cambridge campus,” according to an article published on the school’s website. “This program may represent a new model for managing commuter demand within densely populated areas.”
MIT will be billed by the T for the new pass program based on how often employees from the school use public transit.
Jason Johnson, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which oversees the MBTA, said in an e-mail that the partnership was developed jointly between the T and the school, at no cost to the transit agency.
Johnson said while the MIT pass will have benefits for the school, it may also help the MBTA.
“The MBTA believes that by partnering with employers who cover the cost of their employees’ travel, we can attract new ridership,” he said, since it could get more people out of their cars and onto the T.
“As part of our mission, the MBTA works with employers throughout the region to encourage great mass transit usage,” he said.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.