Transportation

ALL TRANSPORTATION REPORTS

Does it Make Sense to Collect Bus Fares?

Eliminating fares on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Regional Transit Authority (RTA) buses makes sense for practical economic reasons as well as for equity and environmental sustainability. The resources spent collecting bus fares don’t serve any transportation function. Selling bus passes and tickets, verifying and collecting them, and enforcing fare payments do not help transport bus riders more quickly or safely to their destinations. On the contrary, bus fares discourage people from using the bus, and fare collection slows down travel while making it more stressful and inconvenient. Everything related to fares diverts resources that could otherwise provide more ...
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Free Buses Advance Equity

Transit fares deepen existing income inequalities and racial disparities. Transit riders tend to have lower-than average incomes, especially bus riders. Black and Latinx residents are also more likely to be transit riders than white residents, again especially on buses. Enforcement of fare policies, such as through arrests and citations, also tends to impact people of color disproportionately. Transit fares are regressive, meaning that they claim a larger share of income from people with low- and middle-incomes than from higher-income people. While several other kinds of taxes and public fees fall disproportionately on lower-income households in Massachusetts, perhaps none falls more ...
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The Dollars & Sense of Free Buses

There are many reasons to eliminate transit fares, especially on buses. In addition to advancing equity and reducing climate change emissions, fare-free service is more efficient, faster, and more convenient. Eliminating fares also increases transit ridership and helps stimulate the local economy. The major rationale for continuing to require fares is that officials have become accustomed to counting on this traditional – although relatively minor – source of revenue. Bus fares are a relatively minor part of transit budgets Public transportation is a public good that is mostly funded by public support. Most funding for transit authorities comes from the ...
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Freeing the Climate: Environmental Benefits of Eliminating Transit Fares

In addition to being more efficient and equitable, eliminating bus fares would benefit the climate. The transportation sector is the biggest and fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts, and personal vehicles are responsible for the majority of those emissions. Transportation accounted for 42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts in 2017, the latest year with official data. The Commonwealth has made specific commitments to reduce emissions from transportation, specifically in its new “Next Generation Climate Roadmap” law and the Governor’s Transportation and Climate Initiative. Eliminating transit fares can be part of achieving those goals. The Commonwealth’s Decarbonization ...
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Testimony before the Health Equity Task Force on the importance of work and family mobility for all, regardless of immigrant status

Testimony by Monique Ching, Senior Policy Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, for the Health Equity Task Force public hearing on February 8, 2021. Members of the Health Equity Task Force, thank you for the opportunity to speak today about An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility During and Subsequent to the COVID-19 Emergency (HD.448/SD.273). My name is Monique Ching and I am a Senior Policy Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization that focuses on state fiscal and economic policy. Imagine, for a moment, that you do not have a driver’s ...
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Driver’s licenses for immigrants without status – how would it affect Massachusetts?

This series of briefs examines the potential effects of licensing undocumented drivers in Massachusetts. The briefs look at the effects on public safety, child health, law enforcement efficiency, and the economy and state finances.
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FY 2021 GOVERNOR’S BUDGET: Transportation – Governor proposes more funding, partly reversing past cuts

The Governor's FY 2021 budget proposal is notable for acknowledging the need for more transportation investment to improve our current road and transit systems. This brief details how the proposal would partly reverse some earlier cuts to transportation programs that have likely held back performance.
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The Gas Tax: What it is and Who Pays

This two-page fact sheet explains the gas tax and why it tends to fall hardest on those with low and moderate incomes.
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FY 2021 BUDGET PREVIEW: Will the Transportation Budget Reflect New Realities? 6 Things to Look Out For

Will the Governor's FY 2021 budget proposal indicate his commitment toward improving public transit, developing regional rail, reducing traffic congestion, and other priorities?
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The Pros and Cons of Higher Gas Taxes, and How They Could be Offset for Lower-Income Families

As the Commonwealth seeks to improve our aging transportation system, policy makers have considered raising the gas tax. This paper assesses the gas tax along several well-established criteria for evaluating taxes: efficiency, fairness, and reliability. Based on these criteria, the gas tax receives mixed grades. Offsetting the tax with low-income tax credits could help.
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Testimony before the Joint Committee on Transportation on H.3012/S.2061, “An act relative to work and family mobility”

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Sharing the Road: Licensing all drivers, regardless of immigration status, boosts safety and the economy

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Testimony to the Fiscal Management and Control Board on MBTA Fares

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Testimony to the Joint Committee on Revenue on the Need to Invest in Education and Transportation

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Funding Improvements for Schools, Roads, and Public Transit with Tax Reforms that Improve Fairness

A ballot question has been proposed that would support investments in education and transportation with revenue from an additional 4% tax on income over a million dollars a year. This factsheet examines this proposal and how it relates to longer term economic and policy trends in Massachusetts.
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