As Massachusetts lawmakers consider more spending on transportation, they are getting support from a new poll. But there’s also deep skepticism that public funds will be handled properly.
A year ago, MassInc began a comprehensive research project to gauge residents’ views on the transportation system – including two separate large-scale polls.
“There’s not this sort of reflexive opposition to new revenues that you might see in other states that have been where Massachusetts is right now,” says Steve Koczela, MassInc’s executive director. He says a majority of state residents were willing to pay $50 more a year for investments in roads, bridges and mass transit. And in one unexpected finding, he says, western Massachusetts residents were open to raising taxes to fund not just roads and bridges – but public transit too.
“It was actually quite surprising the level of interest in better transit – even outside of the MBTA service area.”
Still, a majority of western Massachusetts residents preferred raising tolls and fares for public transit to increasing the gas tax. And Koczela says three quarters of state residents blame waste and mismanagement for funding shortfalls – showing that lawmakers will need to demonstrate wise stewardship to secure voter support for added transportation spending.