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Statement: Massachusetts legislature passes $16.5 billion transportation spending bill, marking progress on sustainable transportation

Transportation bill will increase transit spending and raise fees on ride-hailing trips
For Immediate Release

BOSTON -- In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Massachusetts State Legislature passed a bond bill (HR. 5248 - An Act Accelerating Transportation Investment), which authorized $16.5 billion for transportation spending in the Commonwealth. These authorizations included much needed spending on road and bridge repair, "complete" streets better geared towards multiple forms of transportation and expanding and maintaining our transit systems. It marked progress toward building a cleaner, healthier 21st century transportation network across the Commonwealth.

While this legislation fell short of providing sustainable long-term revenue streams for Massachusetts’ transit agencies, the bill took a step in the right direction by increasing the fee on ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. Specifically, the bill increased the fee from $0.20 per ride on any type of Uber or Lyft ride to $0.40 per shared ride, $1.20 per non-shared ride and $2.20 per non-shared ride in luxury vehicles. Additionally, the bill added a $0.20 "public-transit access" fee for rides originating in the 14 core MBTA communities. A portion of this revenue is designated to fund the MBTA and regional transit authorities (RTAs).

The bill also created a Roadway and Congestion Pricing Commission, to be appointed by the governor, designed to develop equitable roadway and congestion pricing strategies; a new mechanism for bus lane enforcement; decriminalized fare evasion; and required the MBTA to implement a low-income fare program. 

To become law, the bill still requires a signature from Gov. Charlie Baker. It should be noted that Baker has the power to strike down sections of the bill while still signing it into law.

MASSPIRG Transportation Advocate John Stout issued the following statement:

“The Commonwealth’s transportation system is broken. It pollutes our air, endangers our climate and traps us in soul-crushing gridlock. By passing the bond bill, the Massachusetts State Legislature has made a downpayment on a healthier, cleaner transportation system. We thank the legislature for their hard work getting this bill over the finish line and urge Governor Baker to sign it into law.

But this is only the beginning, not the final stop. The new TNC fees are a great step forward but we need to keep moving. To ensure the MBTA and the RTAs can keep running, to clean up our air and tackle the climate crisis, we need the legislature to go further in 2021. 

We look forward to working with the legislature to pass comprehensive transportation revenue legislation that supports our historically underfunded public transportation system and other cleaner more active transportation options, like walking and biking, that allow people to drive less and live more.”

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