Flawlessly reliable public transportation is absolutely essential to the continued vitality of the Greater Boston region. I strongly support taking all necessary measures both to reduce the maintenance backlog of the MBTA and to preserve core MBTA services.
At the same time, I am acutely aware of, and also committed to, addressing the deep backlog of road and bridge maintenance around the region. All transportation maintenance has suffered as a result of the huge investment in the Big Dig, which we are still paying for.
Over the next 24 months, we'll go through a process of long-term financial projection and explore alternative funding options. We'll also need to make sure that all cost-cutting options have been fully reviewed.
Funding options on the table include further fare increases, a gas tax increase, congestion fees for driving into the city, some form of highway mileage charge, and increased application of general tax revenues.
Fare increases, perhaps on a more gradual, consistent basis, are likely to be an inescapable element, but we need to limit the impact of the increases on the vulnerable, especially the disabled.
Fare increases alone are unlikely to solve the T's problems -- fares cover a small portion of the T's budget. And, of course, we also need to do more for many of our roads.
Among the other major funding sources, I tend to favor a gas tax increase because it is simple and familiar and entirely committed to transportation purposes, but I am also intrigued by the concept of a congestion charge.
I'd like to hear more from experts and from my constituents about that option - how it would work in practice and whether it would be perceived as fair.