For the fourth consecutive year, Governor Baker has recommended level funding for the fifteen Regional Transit Authorities across Massachusetts. Facing budget deficits, RTAs are now planning to cut services and sharply raise fares starting July 1. Let's stand up for better public transportation. We call on the legislature and Administration to solve this problem, and protect people who depend on public transit!
Please sign our petition for responsible funding for RTAs. If your organization wants to co-sponsor this petition, please let us know!
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Dear Governor Baker, Secretary Pollack and Massachusetts Legislators,
As the Commonwealth develops a budget for Fiscal Year 2019 (which begins July 1, 2018), please make it a high priority to maintain and improve service on our Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) without cutting service or sharply increasing fares.
State funding is a key contribution to the operating budgets of the 15 RTAs. There has been no significant change in state support for several years. Because of increased costs, level funding translates directly to cuts in service, significantly increased rider fares, or both. Funding RTAs at $88 million in FY 2019, using funds specifically dedicated to transportation, is consistent with the 2.5% annual increase that was anticipated in the Transportation Finance Act of 2013.
As the House and Senate budgets are proposed, amended and approved between March and June, it is important that state funding increase to protect riders and help everyone in Massachusetts, whether or not they use RTAs, because transit is important to all of us.
Here's why we must restore and increase funding for RTAs:
Fairness and dignity: Public transportation is essential, to provide affordable ways to get to work, school and for daily life. One in seven households in Massachusetts, and a much higher percentage of RTA riders, do not own a car. Losing service or sharply increasing fares is a serious hardship for our most vulnerable neighbors.
Our economy: Across Massachusetts, many businesses and communities depend on RTAs for their employees, customers, and visitors. Cutting service harms employees and business owners. Massachusetts can only be "open for business" if workers can get to jobs.
The environment: Public transportation is important to reducing local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gases of any sector of our economy, and we need to be encouraging greener forms of travel.
Congested roads: Every bus keeps many cars off our crowded streets. Losing RTA service adds traffic, which adds to delays for everyone.
Public health: public transit is a key tool to escape poverty, as it provides access to jobs, education, social services, and child care, as well as health care and recovery services.
Strong communities: Our main streets and downtowns need good public transportation to thrive, and to keep housing choices within reach.
We strongly urge the legislature to increase RTA funding to at least $88 million, and for the Governor to sign a budget that maintains RTA service, and preferably increases service on evenings and weekends.
Now is the time for the Governor and State Legislature to propose a responsible solution. The people of Massachusetts are counting on you!