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New state budget is a step in the right direction for Regional Transit Authorities, but more resources are needed
BOSTON -- The House and Senate members of the budget conference committee unveiled their compromise budget Sunday for fiscal year 2020, which has now been passed by both the House and Senate. As part of that agreement, now heading to Gov. Baker’s desk, the Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) will receive $87 million in base funding and an additional $3.5 million for one-time grants. The $87 million represents a $5 million increase over the fiscal year 2019 budget and should allow the RTAs to maintain current levels of service (though, for some, this will require shifting money away from capital and state of good repair budgets). That said, authorities and advocates were seeking an additional $3.5 million in base funding, which the RTAs need to begin essential service improvements, modernization and expansion.
Matt Casale, MASSPIRG’s Transportation Campaign director, issued the following statement:
“We are grateful to the conference committee for their hard work on the FY2020 budget, and appreciate the attention they have given to public transportation throughout the commonwealth. We are glad to see the RTAs’ base funding increased from $82 million to $87 million, and we are pleased that the RTAs will be able to avoid cuts to the lifeline services their riders need. No doubt, the $5 million increase over last year’s base funding amount is a step in the right direction.
“At the same time, we must recognize that the status quo is not good enough. The RTAs should be so much more than lifeline services. We asked for a $90.5 million in base funding -- which was also what the RTA Task Force recommended -- so that RTAs can develop into the fast, frequent and convenient public transportation networks on which residents all across the commonwealth should be able to rely. If we want to reduce air pollution and global warming emissions, and help support healthier neighborhoods and more livable communities, we must invest in this part of our transit system.”
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