Advocates Crowd State House For ‘Game-Changing’ Transit Funding Bill

T4MA "call to action" event
Transportation for Massachusetts coalition members crowded into a State House meeting room on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 to participate in a "call to action" for new policies that will increase transit funding and better manage congestion and tailpipe pollution throughout the Commonwealth.

The Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) coalition hosted a “Call to Action” lobbying event at the State House this morning to connect dozens of citizen advocates with their lawmakers and press for the passage of a comprehensive, statewide transit funding bill this spring.

Pumping up the assembled advocates in a crowded State House meeting room, T4MA Director Chris Dempsey punctuated a long inventory of the Commonwealth’s transportation challenges with an emphatic refrain: “We can fix this” (which also served as a Twitter hashtag for the event).

“And part of the way we’re going to fix this is with all the amazing advocates we have today,” said Dempsey.

“We can fix this,” agreed Stacy Thompson, executive director of coalition member LivableStreets (disclosure: Thompson also serves on the StreetsblogMASS board of directors). “But we need every person in this room to pick up the mantle – literally pick up the packet that you were given today – because we need your voice. We need you to reach out as individuals, we need you to activate your networks. Ask the Legislature to pass a comprehensive bill that will increase funding.”

While House leadership is reportedly discussing various ideas for raising new revenue, no specific proposals have yet emerged from the State House.

For its part, the T4MA coalition has been advocating for a package of five policies that would increase transportation funding while controlling pollution and congestion, including a 25-cent gas tax, adoption of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, congestion pricing in the Boston metropolitan area, higher fees on Uber and Lyft, and the authorization for local-option taxes for transportation improvements.

Rep. Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown), another of the speakers at Tuesday’s event, said she was “enthusiastically anticipating” the transit funding bill that House leaders have been promising for several months now.

Peake reported that Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston), the chair of the Ways and Means committee, has been reaching out to various caucuses in the State House “to have a full-throated and robust conversation about this.”

“I believe, and I am incredibly optimistic, that this transportation bill is going to be a generational game-changer in how we fund, and more importantly how we provide public transit for the citizens of Massachusetts,” said Peake.

Want to contact your legislators? Find their contact information here.


Rendering courtesy of the Friends of the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail.

Saturday: Dedham to Hold Delayed Vote on Trail Referendum

Voters in Dedham will head to the polls on Saturday to decide whether to support the Dedham Heritage Rail Trail, a 2-mile connection between downtown Dedham, the town’s schools and the Readville commuter rail station. The advisory referendum asks voters whether they “favor, if there is no cost to Dedham taxpayers for design and construction, […]
Arborway project map

DCR Hosts Virtual Meeting to Discuss Arborway Safety Improvements

The state Department of Conservation (DCR) hosted a second public meeting Wednesday night for a project that’s expected to create new, protected bike and pedestrian routes along the Arborway in Jamaica Plain. The DCR’s “Arborway Parkways Improvement Project” kicked off last winter, and is aiming to produce detailed designs for a construction project that would […]
Advocates say that these upgrades to the commuter rail network would allow trains to run every 15 to 30 minutes on most lines. Courtesy of TransitMatters.

TransitMatters Issues Detailed Game Plan for Regional Rail Upgrades

Advocates from TransitMatters have released a detailed, $2.6 billion strategy for upgrading key commuter rail lines to attain 15-minute, all-day service to Beverly, Providence, and along Boston’s Fairmount Line. Last November, the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) endorsed an aspirational vision to electrify the MBTA commuter rail network to provide all-day, rapid-transit-style service […]