Final 2019 State Budget Includes Increase in Regional Transit Investment
Contact: Matt Casale, MASSPIRG Staff Attorney, (617) 747-4314, [email protected]
BOSTON — Today, Governor Charlie Baker signed a state budget for fiscal year 2019 that funds the Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) at a total $88 million, which represents the first significant increase in RTA investment in several years. The RTAs provide essential public transportation services to over 32 million riders across the Commonwealth, but have been forced to propose service cuts due to rising costs coupled with, until now, stagnant funding.
MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale issued the following statement:
“We applaud Governor Baker for committing to better transit for Massachusetts by funding the Regional Transit Authorities at $88 million. To build a transportation system that meets our 21st century needs, we have to invest in public transit options throughout the Commonwealth. This is a big step in the right direction, but is just the beginning. Moving forward, we need to prioritize the expansion and streamlining of public transit throughout the Commonwealth, and that includes giving the RTAs the resources needed to provide Bay Staters with the services they deserve.
Most of the new funding is contingent upon agreements with MassDOT. In the short term, this means some of the currently proposed service cuts will still have to go into effect. In the long term, we are optimistic that the pieces are in place to build a public transportation system that works for all of Massachusetts.
Public transportation promotes equity, opportunity, and a healthy environment. We should be doing everything we can to ensure that the entire Commonwealth has access to robust, frequent, and affordable public transportation options. Investing in the RTAs will help end the trend of service cuts and fare hikes, and get us on a path to an improved network of public transportation services — and thus a better overall transportation system and a better quality of life for Bay Staters.
The budget also creates a ‘task force on regional transit authority performance and funding.’ In addition to the additional investment, we support the push for more accountability, reform, and innovation in transportation. We believe that RTAs, the communities they serve, and the Commonwealth must be partners in a durable solution. We look forward to working with the task force in the coming months.”
MASSPIRG is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. On the web at www.masspirg.org.