In the lead-up to Governor Baker’s legislative proposal to fix the MBTA, we were encouraged by the Special Panel’s declaration that both revenues and reforms should be part of any plan to improve transit. Unfortunately, the governor’s new bill proposes to reduce revenues and paves the way to steep fare hikes and service cuts. Plus, the $575 million in revenue cuts affect not only the MBTA, but also the entire statewide transportation system, including roads, bridges, regional buses, bikeways and sidewalks.
Let’s be clear: There is plenty about the governor’s proposal we agree with and many of the proposed reforms should be implemented right away to improve the system’s efficiency and accountability. But there are three specific pieces that concern us. We need your help to tell your state legislators to support a plan that will keep existing funds for transportation intact.
Here are the three pieces of the Governor’s plan that put us on the wrong track:
1. Removing fare caps and free or discounted transfers that allow MBTA riders to pay for one trip, rather than be charged twice for the same trip. The 2013 Act created affordable, predictable fare increases by capping increases to 5% every two years. In the years leading up to that legislation, riders faced steep, unpredictable fare increases. Governor Baker’s bill would eliminate the provision ensuring fares rise predictably and incrementally, and eliminate free and discounted transfers.
2. Reducing transportation funding. In 2013, legislators increased funds for the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, which invests in roads, bridges, regional buses, the MBTA, sidewalks, and bikelanes. The MBTA and the state’s transportation system cannot maintain their current level of service, nevermind improve it, while simultaneously facing the loss of $575 million in the next six years.
3. Limiting funding to the MBTA, which will effectively cut $220 million over the next 2 years that the legislature promised to the MBTA. Without this assistance, the MBTA will be unable to close its budget gap without increasing fares and cutting service.
We believe these provisions must be removed in any final plan to fix our transportation system. Can you take a moment to email your State Legislators and let them know you feel the same way?
We need both reforms and revenue in order to create the kind of 21st century transportation system that meets our needs of today and tomorrow. But the Governor’s legislation proposes reform and less revenue for our entire transportation system. While we work to improve transparency, communication and customer satisfaction, we must also make strategic investments to fix what we have and build what we need to ensure a strong economic future.