MAPC Statement on the Transportation Bond Bill

MAPC Statement on Transportation Bond Bill

For immediate release: Friday, January 15

We were deeply disappointed this evening when Governor Baker vetoed critical policy provisions in H.5248, An Act authorizing and accelerating transportation investment. Coming only a day after the Governor vetoed the climate bill and significant portions of the economic development bond bill, we feel these latest vetoes are short-sighted and counter to the Commonwealth’s climate, mobility and equity goals. The final bill, devoid of these provisions, misses the opportunity to raise modest transportation revenue and invest in a more robust, affordable transportation system.  

Since H.5248 was passed by the Legislature whose term ended earlier this month, the new Legislature cannot override the Governor’s vetoes. 

Thankfully, Governor Baker signed the overall package, which will provide MassDOT with capital funding for the next five years. The bill includes several critical investments, such as funding for the Complete Streets program, with money set aside for low-income communities to implement needed walking and biking improvements; and the Shared Streets Initiative, which has been a great asset to cities and towns looking to make low-cost, high-impact transportation improvements to sidewalks, roadways, and bikeways during the pandemic.  

However, the Governor’s veto of provisions that would increase fees for Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft is disappointing. MAPC’s analysis estimated that TNC fees could have raised at least $56 million in new revenue, providing essential resources for cities and towns and critical new investments in the MBTA and Regional Transit Authorities. Additionally, the fee structure was designed to encourage shared rides and alleviate congestion and would have put Massachusetts in line with other states’ fees. This veto sets us back. Although the Governor vetoed the fee increase, he signed the section requiring the collection of additional data from TNCs, which will help us to evaluate their impact on mobility and congestion. 

 Further, we are deeply disappointed that the Governor struck from the bill a provision directing the MBTA to pursue a low-income fare program. Low-income individuals are more likely to rely on transit and spend a larger portion of their income on transportation costs. Instituting low-income fares would serve as a financial reprieve for residents who are most impacted by the pandemic and are keeping our economy afloat as essential workers.  

Finally, the Governor also vetoed a commission to study congestion pricing, a critical tool to alleviate congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. MAPC cannot understand why the Commonwealth should be unwilling even to study a powerful tool that is already working effectively in other states and countries.   

We do not need further studies to tell us our region is among the most congested and our transit system is chronically underfunded. We need bold leadership and action to achieve the transportation future the Commonwealth deserves. Now is the time to ensure our transportation system is prepared to carry the Commonwealth through a robust economic recovery. We urge the new Legislature to move swiftly to refile and pass these important policy provisions, and if the Governor vetoes them again, to override his vetoes. 

Press contact: Amanda Linehan, alinehan@mapc.org