Massachusetts House Passes MBTA Bailout Bill
The Massachusetts house of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday giving the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority the money it needs to avoid drastic cuts…for now.
House lawmakers agreed to bail out the struggling MBTA with state funds. The bill would transfer nearly 50 million dollars to the transit agency from a fund that had been intended to help reduce air pollution.
On the House floor, lawmakers emphasized this was only a one time, limited bailout and the MBTA will be short on cash again next year
Representative Joseph Wagoner of Chicopee, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, says there needs to be a longterm solution to fix the transportation system’s broken finances:
"To ignore that there’s a problem, to ignore that there’s a cost to fixing the problem, and really to frame this appropriately to ignore that we’ve got more than a billion dollar a year gap in terms of transportation financing needs vs. available revenues is to ignore a whole lot."
The bailout bill still needs Senate approval.
Bus and subway fares are already are scheduled to rise by an average 23 percent on July 1. Transportation Secretary Richard Davey is warning of deeper cuts in service if the bill isn't passed by then.
"We're optimistic that the legislature will come through, but optimism doesn't pay the bills. So we do need a bill that's passed, and soon. Otherwise there will be more cuts on the table."
Lawmakers say two weeks is plenty of time to meet the deadline.