Report Outlines Federal Relief for Massachusetts’ Transportation and How to Invest in it Now

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Reginauld Williams, rwilliams@massbudget.org

BOSTON, MA – Every person in the Commonwealth counts on reliable transportation systems to get to essential places like school and work, move freely about, and connect with loved ones near and far. Massachusetts’ roads, sidewalks, buses and trains, however, are often in poor shape with poor service. This impedes people’s ability to reach each other and get where we need to go. A new report from MassBudget outlines the billions of dollars in federal relief and recovery aid coming into the state, with recommendations on how to use this unprecedented opportunity to immediately invest in better, more equitable transportation.

Last year, U.S. News and World Report ranked Massachusetts’ transportation system 39th out of the 50 states, and 47th when it comes to commute times. While the pandemic has reduced travel for some, traffic has generally returnedto unacceptable pre-COVID levels. Like other impacts of the pandemic, those hardest hit by these aging transportation systems are Black, Indigenous and other people of color, as well as people with lower incomes.

“Massachusetts needs a lot of help with transportation, and the federal recovery funds are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in improving those systems,” said Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst at MassBudget and author of the report.

Specifically, Baxandall is referring to:

  • $3.3 billion in COVID federal relief that Massachusetts is receiving for public transit, airports, Amtrak, and the Department of Transportation.
  • $8.7 billion in federal ARPA funds ($5.3 billion to the state and $3.4 to municipalities)  that could in part support certain transportation needs such as cutting or eliminating transit fares or quick construction projects.
  • The federal infrastructure bill that is moving through Congress and could provide significant one-time transportation funding, though not longer-term revenues for operations and upkeep.

In order to create a future where all Massachusetts residents can meet their transportation needs, these short-term investments must be coupled with long-term funding solutions.

“Instead of just plugging budget holes, lawmakers should look for game-changing improvements and ways to increase access for communities that have felt the worst of COVID and its economic impacts,” Baxandall says. “We can do better than build back the lousy transportation system we had before COVID.”

In November 2022, Massachusetts voters will have the chance to cast their ballots for the Fair Share Amendment – which, if passed, would provide long-term revenues to help sustain improved transportation.

Staff are available for additional questions or comments upon request.

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