The Joint Committee on Transportation, under the leadership of Chairman McGee and Chairman Straus, put forward a proposal to provide over $50 million to allow the MBTA to balance its FY 2013 budget without further raising fares or cutting service in this year. The Committee assembled a number of solutions to fill the deficit including having MassPort take over the ferry service currently funded by the MBTA.
The full Legislature should act quickly to approve this funding to prevent the MBTA from having to make further service cuts or increase fares beyond the 23% hike taking effect in July.
The measure proposed by the committee would also provide $6.5 million to regional transit authorities that provide public transportation to people across the Commonwealth, including those regions that are facing the greatest economic challenges.
Lower-income residents who rely on the MBTA and regional transit as their sole means of transportation to jobs, job training, education, health care providers, child care, and even basic things like grocery shopping, are already bracing for the hit to the pocketbook when fares go up in July. If the MBTA is forced to cut service, some people will be stranded. If fares are hiked higher, some people will be priced off the system.
The Legislature has the power right now to take action that will reduce the burden on lower-income residents, seniors on fixed incomes, and students who rely on public transit. Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) and our coalition members hope our leaders will take action on behalf of their constituents who will bear the brunt of any fare increases and service cuts.
Let’s be clear: This is a stopgap measure that only solves the funding issue for this year. The measure proposed by the Joint Committee on Transportation is just a temporary fix. Next year, the MBTA will face another annual deficit of at least $100 million. The Legislature and the Patrick administration must create a sustainable funding solution that will eliminate these structural deficits, fix up the MBTA, and help both the MBTA and regional transit authorities broaden their reach and serve more customers. The transportation funding solution should also fund the needed maintenance for roads and bridges, and build the sidewalks and bikeways we all need so that every part of our transportation network in Massachusetts is working at its best for the citizens.
Investing in a 21st century transportation system is crucial to building a better economy, preserving our environment, and promoting public health and quality of life for all Massachusetts residents.
– Kristina Egan, Director, Transportation for Massachusetts.
Transportation for Massachusetts is a coalition of groups that care about public transportation, walking, biking and the economic opportunities and great places that a great transportation network can help build.