House Passes MBTA Bailout Bill
By Sarah Birnbaum
June 13, 2012
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON — The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill June 13 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 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 that the MBTA will be short on cash again next year
Rep. Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee), who chairs the economic development committee, said there still needs to be a long-term 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 versus available revenues is to ignore a whole lot," he said.
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 warned 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," he said. "So we do need a bill that's passed, and soon. Otherwise there will be more cuts on the table."
Lawmakers said 2 weeks is plenty of time to meet the deadline.
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About WGBH News Focus: The MBTALove it, like it or lump it, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority touches nearly everyone's lives in eastern Mass. And it's in financial crisis, with newly announced fare hikes not enough to cover next year's projected $100 million budget deficit. WGBH News features special focus coverage of the tracks and troubles of our public transit system.
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.
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