Higher Taxes, Fees For Better Public Transportation?

The board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation released its 21st Century Transportation Plan, which outlines the state’s budgetary needs over the course of the next 10 years and beyond.

With a debt-ridden public transporation system needing repairs, the state will likely need to increase revenue from car registrations, license renewals, taxes and tolls, according to a new report. 

The Board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation released its 21st Century Transportation Plan on Monday, Jan. 14 which calls for a $13 billion overall investment in state transportations systems over the next decade.

Included in the report are several ideas to pay for public transportation needs including an increase in the vehicle registration fee by $53 to $103, an increase in the vehicle inspection fee by $19 to $48, boosting the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 7.75 percent, increasing the gas tax by 30 cents per gallon to 51 cents per gallon and increasing the income tax from 5.25 percent to 5.66 percent. The report also floats a 2.4 cent-per mile miles traveled tax.

Do you support the new revenue ideas? Tell us in the comments box below.

Revenues from those fees would help cover the costs of the state's transportation project needs, which the report details. 

  • The state needs $684 million to operate the same systems in place today.
  • Additionally, the state needs to invest $5.2 billion over the next 10 years for repairs to roadways, highways and structurally deficient bridges.
  • The state needs $3.8 billion over the next 10 years to invest in existing transit services.
  • The state needs an additional $275 million over the next 10 years to invest in Registry and airport maintenance.
  • Overall, the plan calls for an additional $1.02 billion average investment per year.

“Without new revenues, the MassDOT Board of Directors will need to cut service at the MBTA and RTAs and significantly increase fares in order to approve a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins July 1,” according to the statement.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who attended a presentation of the plan Monday at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said the state is faced with difficult but necessary choices.

“What’s plain as day is that we have to make choices. We can choose to invest in ourselves, to invest in a growth strategy that has been proven time and again to work. Or we can choose to do nothing. But let us be clear: doing nothing is a choice, too,” he said. “And that choice has consequences. It means longer commutes, cuts in services, larger fare and fee increases, and a continuation of the self-defeating economics of cutting off large parts of our population from opportunity and growth.”

He concluded by saying: “I choose growth. I choose shaping our own future over letting the future happen to us.  I hope we all are ready that make that choice, and I look forward to working together with you to do so.”

moe howard January 15, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Where is Elizabeth Warren the fake Indian on this one? The middle class is getting hammered.....that's what she ran her campaign on. I'm so sick of this state and the democrats....time for a revolution
Earnhardt January 15, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Didn't she say a week or two ago that she will work with anyone who wants to stand up for families? She is just waiting for someone to step up so she can ride the coat tails...
K Coyne January 15, 2013 at 02:50 PM
YIKES! Especially a double wammy on people with respect to cars: a gas hike on taxes and mileage tax(you hit this section twice). I can understand some increases in order to keep up infrastructure but all those would hit the middle class very hard. Would some of these be phased in over time?
Concerned Citizen January 15, 2013 at 03:19 PM
It very disheartening that politicians still seem to think “tax payer” equates to an endless revenue stream. It wasn’t that long ago our sales tax was raised from 5% to 6.25% during the fiscal crisis. Then when the opportunity presented itself to roll back the sales tax, the politicians utilized their scare tactics of “Cut backs”, threatening infrastructure break downs, less fireman, policemen and teachers. Now they make the same threats, allows us to tax you or else you will have unsafe roads and gridlock. Does anyone find it reasonable that the politicians who supposedly work for us, threaten us with “Scare Tactics” to force our hand for increased revenue? The Governor and the Transportation Secretary talk about “investing in the future”, nobody seems to discuss the ramifications of increased gas tax or mileage fee would have on the cost of goods and services within our state. Based on their plan, we’ll pay more taxes and then as the fees get passed onto all goods and services, we’ll also pay more on the back end. How does that help the middleclass? Here’s a novel idea, if the powers at be cannot find a way to be a way to repair, replace or maintain our transportation system, let us find somebody who can. Tax payers are not an untapped resource whenever fiscal irresponsibility comes to a head.
Earnhardt January 15, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Just 3 months ago, the miles driven tax was talked about being set at a penny a mile. Now its jumped to 19 cents per mile. They really think we have an unlimited supply of money to turn over to them. Car inspections increasing 19 dollars as well. I wonder if the State will get all of it, or will the business doing the inspection receive any of that? I am guessing the station will see very little. which means it will no longer be profitable to offer State inspections, which in turn means you will have to drive farther to find a place that does them, All these extra miles at 19 cents per mile. Talk about being trapped on the treadmill! OK Ms, Warren,you talked a big game, now let's see if you can follow through on anything you said.
TheHam January 15, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Time for all those hard working citizens of this once great city need to start packing their bags. Time for Deval to see who really makes up this state and what THEY can contribute to keep this sh*thole of a town straight.
K Coyne January 15, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Just to be clear I believe it is 2.4cent/mile for the mileage driven tax vs 19cents more(21 to 51cents/gal) for the gas tax. Along with this are the other taxes sales and income tax increase. You can get details in document at http://willbrownsberger.com/a-bold-and-responsible-transportation-plan/ or possibly your representatives website.
tmp January 15, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Some of these figures are incorrect, and what is not clear in the Patch article is that these are options, where each one *alone* provides the total $1B/year that has been determined to be needed. Not all would be implemented, or not all at the levels mentioned. In particular, the 19cents/mile doesn't appear anywhere that I can see (I do see 2.4 c/mile, equivalent to $240/year for autos driven 10K year). For example, raising the gas tax from 21c/gal to 51c/gal would provide $1B/year. Of course that takes us from the 15th lowest to the highest gas tax in the nation. A different way to get it is to raise the sales tax from 6.25% to 7.75%, and yet a different way is to raise the income tax from 5.25% to 5.66%. But the point is that that each one *alone* closes this 'gap'. You can definitely argue whether this is the correct amount to be shooting for ($1B/year) and you can argue whether a single choice or combinations of lower changes to a group of these options is the way to go. But at least consider what was actually written as options...e.g. use the correct numbers. Reference: https://massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/0/docs/infoCenter/docs_materials/TheWayForward_Jan13.pdf
Ryan Grannan-Doll (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 06:32 PM
TMP, Thanks for reading Patch. This story is pretty clear in saying this is a report with ideas and not a done deal. It is also clear in saying the total called for is $13 billion. Also, the 19 cents per mile reference was a mistake and has been corrected.
Earnhardt January 16, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Thanks Waterinfo. you are right, My mistake.
Athena January 16, 2013 at 05:24 PM
I am disgusted by the way money is 'spent' in this state. A person can barely survive on one income anymore. I have already decided I will never purchase a property in this hell hole because I refuse to give Massachusetts any more of my hard earned money. Im looking at condo's out of state. Good job politicians.
JohnnyMass January 17, 2013 at 04:53 AM
This is what you deserve for voting Democratic! Any boob who still thinks that Democrats are in back of the working class should be evaluated for possible use of strong hallucinogenics!
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