BOSTON, MA (November 7, 2019) – With communities around Massachusetts reaching a crisis point around transportation, A Better City today released a transportation finance plan calling for a minimum of $50 billion in new investment over the next two decades to create the efficient, safe, and reliable system people and businesses deserve. The plan also provides an actionable path forward for generating this revenue from transportation sources of funding.
Funding Transportation Solutions: A Comprehensive Transportation Finance Plan serves as an answer to A Better City’s report from February 2019, An Update on Transportation Finance, which identified a projected multi-billion-dollar transportation funding gap over the next ten years just to properly maintain existing transportation infrastructure at the MassDOT Highway Division and the MBTA. The new report lays out a pathway to fill this gap as well as expand and make resilient Massachusetts’ full transportation system.
“From overhauling the commuter rail to electrifying bus networks to upgrading the safety and resilience of roads and bridges, the solutions to our current transportation crisis are complex but absolutely achievable,” said A Better City President & CEO Richard A. Dimino. “We’re grateful to legislative leadership for creating an environment that puts ideas on the table and supports ambition. Now is the time for all of us to come together around a plan that will benefit people in every city and town in the Commonwealth.”
While A Better City’s plan supports statewide improvements, the $50 billion investment is in line with other recent transportation initiatives undertaken by U.S. cities, including Seattle, which passed a $54 billion package over 25 years, and Toronto, which passed a $60 billion package over 20 years.
To meet the $50 billion need, A Better City proposes a plan that raises funds from transportation sources, which ensures that revenue is invested in transportation improvements and not simply swept into Massachusetts General Fund. Transportation source fees also encourage the behavior change needed to combat traffic congestion and fight climate change.
“A Better City’s approach will mean less traffic, better transit, and cleaner air – with an overall faster and easier daily commute for everyone,” said Doug McGarrah, A Better City board chair and partner at Foley Hoag, LLP. “This truly is a moment of generational opportunity to ensure the health of our economy while tackling one of the top issues that detract from quality of life in our region.”
“There are transportation inequities we need to address. So many communities are disconnected from the places they live to the jobs they have or want,” said Jeanne Pinado, CEO of the Madison Park Development Corporation. “Improving connectivity to the state’s workforce is essential to keeping our state’s economy moving forward. This plan helps to realize that.”
A Better City proposes generating new revenue from seven sources: expanding roadway pricing, phasing in toll increases (which haven’t been increased in 15 years), and achieving toll equity; raising the gas tax; capturing revenue from the Transportation Climate Initiative multi-state effort; raising Uber/Lyft fees; closing the auto trade-in loophole; increasing RMV fees; and instituting a new surcharge for businesses on commercial parking.
In pursuing this strategy, it will be critical that the legislature build in equity protections such as rebates and/or tax credits for low-income residents, as well as regional investment targets to ensure equity across the state.
The plan also includes a series of accompanying governance reforms to ensure state transportation agencies have the needed capacity and oversight to leverage new investment. These include updated procurement laws, updated public private partnership (P3) laws, and new project delivery systems proposed in Governor Baker’s recently filed Transportation Bond Bill.
The full report is available on A Better City’s website here.