After a fire on an aging MBTA Orange Line caused a panic and left passengers kicking out windows to escape a smoke-filled subway car, Democrats in the Legislature are piping up that it might just be time to turn to taxpayers for funds to fix the T.

"We need to invest in the MBTA," Rep. Daniel Ryan of Charlestown said, adding that what happened on the Orange Line is more than a problem with MBTA management. "We need to invest in the infrastructure. We need to, you know, raise taxes and have a serious discussion about why the gas tax failed a couple of years ago."

An increase in the state's gas tax, with funds earmarked for transportation projects, was repealed by voters in 2014.

The MBTA's Back Bay station was a chaotic scene Wednesday after a motor overheated, causing smoke to enter the cars—and passengers to exit the cars, sometimes through forced-open doors and kicked-in windows.

“The safety and security of the MBTA is a top priority for the administration. As the MBTA conducts a full investigation of this incident, the governor appreciates the quick response by the Transit Police and first responders and the patience of riders who were inconvenienced during their evening commute," Gov. Charlie Baker's spokesman, William Pitman, wrote in a statement.

The incident is just the latest in a number of infrastructure failures that have rattled the MBTA and given lawmakers much to chew on as they mull over possible tax hikes. To raise taxes, the Democrat-dominated Legislature would be at odds with Baker, who opposes higher taxes. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has cracked the window for discussion of changing taxes in the upcoming session, something Senate President Stan Rosenberg has said he's always ready to do.

Sen. Joseph Boncore of Winthrop agreed the T is something the Legislature needs to start seriously investing in and selling the idea to voters.

"We need to be more upfront with the citizens of the Commonwealth about what our real problems are, where the investments need to be made and we need to start creating revenue sources to fund public transit," Boncore said.

An irony lining Wednesday's incident is that the Orange Line's oldest cars are already scheduled to be replaced in 2019. The cars are ordered and will be manufactured at a new plant in Springfield. That purchase is a big part of the T's effort to shore up its current service reliability, but telling riders less-flammable trains are on the way in three years doesn't really cut it with frustrated straphangers.

"People aren't aware of the investment that we're making to the T, so to say we're making the investments, that means absolutely nothing, but it does make everybody question, including us, what the T is doing to make sure that the system is first and foremost safe and reliable," Jamaica Plain Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez said.

"We've got to let constituents know, both riders and people who live in the MBTA service area, that if we're going to ask for a world class transportation system and us elected officials are going to promise one, we got to find a way to pay for it," Ryan said.

The way to pay for it mentioned by lawmakers with Orange Line stations in their districts is the 2018 ballot effort to increase income taxes on the state's richest residents. The additional charge on incomes over $1 million would go toward transportation and education projects, according to backers of the constitutional amendment.

Mike Connolly, a Cambridge progressive who will take his House seat next year, said the incident is another reminder of the MBTA's $7 billion-plus maintenance backlog.

"When I saw that video I thought about the runaway Red Line train and I thought about the snowstorms where the Commuter Rail shut down for days at a time," Connolly said. "So all of these images I think really just illustrate how desperately we need to raise revenue and invest that in a world class transit system."