21st Century Transportation: Regional Transit Authorities and the FY21 State Budget
As the Massachusetts legislature considers the fiscal year 2021 state budget, this report documents the urgency for ongoing financial support for the Regional Transit Authorities. For the RTAs to thrive and play a substantial role in building a cleaner, greener, and more equitable statewide transportation network, they need sufficient state investment totaling $94 million.
Massachusetts needs a strong public transportation system statewide. Public transit outside of Greater Boston is essential for equity, mobility, and economic opportunity. It reduces congestion and protects our climate, air quality, and health and encourages strong and vibrant communities. This was true before the COVID-19 crisis hit the Commonwealth and it will remain true after the crisis is over.
Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) provide lifelines for their riders — including essential workers who have relied on RTA service throughout the pandemic. The RTAs are also critical to building a more equitable Commonwealth because they serve a disproportionate number of people with very low incomes.
Despite years of challenging budgets, RTAs have continued to provide essential services to communities throughout the Commonwealth. With recent expanded service hours, innovative pilots, partnerships with educational and business institutions, and the adoption of new technologies, like electric buses, the past two years have demonstrated that RTAs are on their way to becoming mobility managers in their regions. They can provide a greener, cleaner, and more equitable statewide transportation networks.
But that work is in jeopardy. COVID-19 has impacted all facets of our state’s economy, and the RTAs are no different. Without sufficient state funding of $94 million, much of the progress over the past two years may be reversed.