BOSTON, MA – On July 7, the House and Senate sent a $40.2 billion budget to Governor Baker’s desk. The legislation avoids tax increases and mostly holds spending flat at state agencies for fiscal 2018. Although the regional transit authorities (RTAs), as well as advocates, had recommended funding the RTAs at $86 million, in the budget on the Governor’s desk, RTAs, which provide public transit services throughout the Commonwealth, receive only $80.4 million, which is even below the $82.0 million that the RTAs received in FY 2017 and FY 2016.
In response, MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Matt Casale released the following statement:
“We are grateful to the conference committee members and House and Senate leaders for their hard work in negotiating and passing the budget, but we are disappointed to see that once again RTAs will be underfunded.
RTAs across the Commonwealth are already struggling due to insufficient funding. In many cases, they can only provide infrequent service on inconvenient schedules. They are more of a system of last resort than they are a legitimate option for those who have other choices, like driving. And at current funding levels, they’re having trouble even maintaining the system of last resort. Several RTAs have been considering service cuts that were made all the more likely by this budget. At some point, we need to recognize the value RTAs provide for the residents of the Commonwealth, and the potential value they could provide if they had enough money, and fund them accordingly.
Investments in transit can connect us to jobs, education, and healthcare, reduce the time we spend stuck in traffic or waiting for a bus, grow our economy, and protect our environment. We should be doing everything we can to increase investment in public transit, reduce traffic and pollution, and increase our options for getting around. Although this budget includes some positive items, it’s clear that we still have a long way to go.”
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.