News Release

MASSPIRG Statement on Regional Transit Authority Budget in House Fiscal Year 2019 Spending Plan

For Immediate Release

Contact: Matt Casale, (617) 747-4314, mcasale@masspirg.org

BOSTON, MA - On Wednesday, the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee released its fiscal year 2019 budget recommendation. The total spending plan comes in at nearly $41 billion.

The House Ways and Means budget underfunds needed local transit authorities (RTAs) despite the urgent requests from  public transportation advocates and the RTAs, for adequate funding. RTAs are the only public transit option in many areas and serve a total of 262 communities outside of the core MBTA area. The RTAs and advocates recommended funding the RTAs at $88 million (which is consistent with the schedule envisioned by the Transportation Finance Law of 2013), but the House’s proposed spending plan only allocates $80 million, $400,000 less than the RTAs received in 2018 and 10% less than what is necessary to provide the same level of service we have today. The RTAs have been underfunded for several years, which has not allowed them to keep up with inflation or rising maintenance costs, healthcare costs, and wages. As a result, RTAs throughout the Commonwealth are considering service cuts and fare hikes because of the insufficient funding. An allocation of $88 million would help prevent those service cuts and fare hikes.

In response, MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale released the following statement: 

“We are disappointed to see that the House Ways and Means budget once again proposes underfunding the RTAs. The service cuts we’re seeing all over the Commonwealth make it clean that the current system of funding isn’t working. We support funding the RTAs at $88 million in FY19 in order to prevent further service cuts.

We should not punish riders and communities by decreasing funding levels at a time of rising costs. The RTAs provide critical service throughout the Commonwealth, service that people rely on, service that is essential for many residents; one in seven households do not own a car. People all over the Commonwealth deserve reliable, frequent, and convenient public transportation options. To get there, we have to invest in the RTAs. We have to give the RTAs the resources they need to provide the services the people of Massachusetts deserve.

Investments in public transportation connects us to education, healthcare, and jobs, reduces the time we spend stuck in traffic or waiting for a bus, grows our economy, and protects our environment. We should be doing everything we can to increase investment in public transit, reduce traffic and pollution, and increase our options for getting around. Investing in the RTAs is good for the entire Commonwealth, and the House’s proposed spending plan doesn’t cut it. We hope to see widespread support among legislators for an amendment that raises RTA funding in the House budget, and look forward to working with the House and Senate to ensure that the budget that reaches Governor Baker’s desk includes $88 million for the RTAs.”

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MASSPIRG is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. On the web at www.masspirg.org.

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