By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey joined MBTA riders Monday morning calling on the T to reverse cuts and restore full service as soon as possible.

Janey took part in a news conference at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation headquarters on Park Plaza, just hours before the MBTA and MassDOT boards met to discuss funding for the 2022 budget.

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Boston business owners and other community leaders also spoke at the event to share why public transportation is so critical.

“We count on essential workers to get us through this pandemic and essential workers count on public transportation,” Janey said. “MBTA service cuts shortchange the needs of Boston’s workers and ignore the sacrifices they make each day to keep our city running. Service cuts make buses and trains more crowded and undermine our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Janey said the city is launching a pilot program from March 29-April 16. During that time, about 1,000 workers will receive free Charlie Cards preloaded with $60 each. Those workers will also receive free two-month Blue Bike passes.

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The program will include the Nubian Square, Jackson Square, Hyde Square, Canary Square, Mission Hill, East Boston and Fields Corner districts.

“We have to lift up workers and make sure that they have access to reliable transportation. That is essential to an economic recovery that is equitable,” Janey said.

Last week, the T agreed to work to increase service levels to pre-pandemic levels but the agency did not give an exact timeline.

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They also scrapped plans to furlough dozens of workers following criticism from lawmakers. Staff