Poll Finds Strong Support for ‘Big Changes’ in Commonwealth’s Transportation Systems

Courtesy of MassINC.
Courtesy of MassINC.

A new poll of Massachusetts voters finds that there’s still strong support for “big changes” to the Commonwealth’s transportation system, even as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps more people at home.

The poll, conducted by the MassINC Polling Group under the sponsorship of the Barr Foundation (disclosure: Barr is also a major financial sponsor of StreetsblogMASS), asked a sample of 797 Massachusetts registered voters about their opinions about the state’s transportation system and various ideas to raise new revenue for transportation projects.

In a question about the post-pandemic transportation system, two-thirds of respondents agreed that the state should “make big changes to the transportation system coming out of the crisis,” compared to just 16 percent who favored “going back to the transportation system we had before the crisis.”

The poll also asked voters about specific revenue-generating policy ideas that have been circulating in the Massachusetts State House:

  • 74 percent of respondents favored making car rental car companies, which are currently exempt, pay the state’s sale and use taxes;
  • 68 percent favor “value capture” taxes, which would leverage money from new real estate developments to pay for nearby infrastructure;
  • 64 percent favor local ballot initiatives to let cities and towns to put local transportation projects and taxes on the ballot (an idea that was included in
  • 55 percent favor letting cities and towns tax large private lots and garages;
  • 51 percent favor increased fees on app-based ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft.

A few of these ideas may yet make it into legislation this year, as the House and Senate work to resolve two different versions of a transportation bond bill before a July 31 deadline.

The Senate’s transportation bond bill includes language that would authorize local ballot initiatives to pay for transportation projects, and Governor Baker’s pre-pandemic budget proposal also included a dollar-per-trip fee on Uber and Lyft rides.

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