Transportation News

Transportation News
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Cambridge Chronicle on the MBTA proposals

“MBTA general manager: Fare hike plan would see decreased ridership”
The Green Line extension to Tufts University and a South Coast rail line will continue as planned, as both are state obligations as part of the Big Dig, but neither will be paid for by the MBTA, according to acting general manager Jonathan Davis.

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Transportation News
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Local officials push for gas tax instead of T service cuts

Somerville Patch: “Local Leaders React to MBTA’s Proposed Cuts, Favor Upping Gas Tax”
“Even the relatively big increases being proposed will not provide more than a one- or two-year fix,” Jehlen said in an email to Patch Wednesday. “I, along with some of my colleagues, have been advocating for an increase in the gas tax as a reasonable and sustainable way to ensure financial solvency for the T. It is past time that we seriously address these long term funding issues. I will continue to advocate for an increase in the gas tax and more dedicated revenue to the T.”
Somerville Journal: “Sciortino: We can do better than current MBTA proposal”
“Placing the burden entirely on the backs of T customers ignores the reality that our entire transportation system is woefully underfunded, and demands a statewide comprehensive solution that must include new revenues.”

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Transportation News
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Occupy the T gains momentum

The potential MBTA service cuts and fare increases would have a profound effect on Somerville, and it’s great to see many groups speaking out and taking actions to express concern and outrage. One such group is Occupy the T. Check out their progress in this Boston Occupier article and their Facebook group. Also keep an eye on the Occupy Somerville site.
MBTA officials seem to welcome this movement:

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Transportation News
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Blue Ribbon Summit on transportation financing

With all the coverage of MBTA financing recently, we wanted to point out excellent material that came out of a summit at Northeastern University in 2010. There are some good ideas in here about T financing. For each of the most commonly discussed options, it includes the current Massachusetts policy, how it is used in other states, its advantages and disadvantages, and a financial analysis. The options are:

  • Increasing the gasoline tax
  • Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Tax
  • Increasing local funding for transit
  • Parking fees and taxes
  • Cross-subsidies for transit
  • Leveraging private investment
  • MBTA debt relief
  • MBTA operational efficiencies
  • Increasing fare revenue

Read more about the effort or download the summary and framework reports.

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Transportation News
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Somerville Patch: Frustration with the MBTA

“Patch Readers Unhappy with MBTA Situation”
“Many readers were frustrated by the prospect of paying more for less service, especially since the long-awaited Green Line extension, which was supposed to open in Somerville by the end of 2014, has been delayed until 2019.”

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Transportation News
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CLF editorial on MBTA financing

“The T Needs More Than Fare Increases”
“T4MA objects to the MBTA’s proposal because it attempts to solve a much larger problem of insufficient funding for public transportation exclusively on the back of transit riders, who are traveling in ways that reduce traffic and benefit the environment.”

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Buses, Transportation News
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Potential MBTA service cuts and fare increases could be brutal for Somerville

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The MBTA, attempting to deal with painful deficits, announced plans to raise fares and cut services. Two scenarios are presented, both of which are ugly. Scenario 1 relies more on fare increases, while scenario 2 focuses on cuts to service, including the elimination of 6 important Somerville bus routes: 80, 85, 90, 92, 95, and 96.
Key links:

Somerville Patch: “Your Thoughts: Fare Hikes, Maybe Bus Eliminations Coming to Somerville”

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Transportation News
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Study: Transportation funding is unfair on the poor

The Transport Politic has published a must-read article, “Local Funding for Public Transportation Operations: Producing Inequitable Results?” The summary: “Less wealthy regions may be more likely to spend less on transit, leaving the poor there with higher transportation expenses.”

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Transportation News
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Transportation funding proposals from MassINC

“Moving Forward with Funding: New strategies to support transportation and balanced regional economic growth,” from MassINC, proposes new funding mechanisms for transit (and possibly also roads and bridges) that aim to break the political logjam created by the belief that the rest of the state is unfairly being asked to pay for Boston’s Big Dig and MBTA. By raising revenue within the same regions benefiting from transit, the authors suggest that there may be greater willingness to impose new taxes based on payroll and/or a VMT (vehicle miles traveled). These taxes could also provide additional funding for the RTAs in gateway cities such as Worcester and Lowell that currently receive only a small percentage of local sales tax.

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Transportation News
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Report on transportation financing crisis

Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) has released “MAXED OUT: Massachusetts Transportation at a Financing Crossroad.” The overview is straightforward: “The people and economy of Massachusetts depend upon the state’s network of rails and roads, but the transportation system is living largely on borrowed time and borrowed money. Faced with a crushing burden of debt, the system lacks the revenue to maintain its current condition, let alone meet future needs.”

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