The bill to borrow and spend $11.3 billion to upgrade Massachusetts’ transportation infrastructure is estimated to go to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk, with $400 million set aside for the MBTA to make necessary security improvements.
State Representative William Strauss, chairman of the Transportation Committee House, said the amount would cover a number of “troubling” issues related to the public transportation system, which the committee learned during its oversight investigation into the agency, according to State House News Service,
The investigation comes amid an almost unprecedented security review of the MBTA by the Federal Transit Administration, following several safety problems this year alone, including in May, when a man was pulled to his death by a Red Line train.
The Bond bill surfaced on Sunday afternoon, as lawmakers scramble to pass legislation pending at that time until the end of the legislative session, which also included legalizing sports betting in the Bay State. The debate broke out in the early hours of Monday morning.
Once the House and Senate take the final procedural vote, the infrastructure bill will go to Governor Charlie Baker, who will have 10 days to sign or veto the legislation.
according to news serviceStrauss said that in addition to safety funding, the bill also spells out requirements aimed at making T more transparent about the safety problems it faces.
For example, under the current version of the bill, the MBTA must send any safety-related reports it must also provide to federal regulators to the state inspector general’s office. Then the Inspector General will make the report publicly available online, news service Report.
The bill would also increase the number of times the MBTA completes select safety reports.
Additionally, State Sen. Brendan Cretton, co-chair of the Transportation Committee, said the bill would mandate that the MBTA complete a three-year safety improvement plan and publicly report open job positions and new employees each month.
according to news service, the bill also includes language geared towards introducing a mobility pricing commission. The commission will make recommendations on topics such as public transit pricing and congestion pricing for roadways.
“This will make our transport infrastructure more accessible, safe and equitable to all residents of the Commonwealth,” Critten said.
However, despite being included in an earlier infrastructure proposal in the 2019-2020 legislative session, the order to create a low-income rental program for the MBTA was not included in the latest package, leaving advocates disappointed. news service Report.
“At a time of rising income inequality, rising costs of housing and everyday essentials, and reduced MBTA service, it is very disappointing that the final transportation bond bill removes the low-income fare program for long-term study,” Transit Essentials The coalition said in a statement. “The legislature, which passed a similar low-income fare provision at the end of last session, has missed an opportunity to provide immediate and meaningful relief to thousands of low-income transit riders across the state.”
Notably, the bill would also, if passed, jump $275 million toward creating the East–West Railroad that would bring commuter rail service to cities and towns in western Massachusetts communities such as Springfield.
Baker said in a statement Sunday evening that he was reviewing the bill and was pleased with some of its components.
In February, the Baker administration introduced its $9.5 billion infrastructure bond bill, which included calls for investments in new MBTA vehicles and facilities.
“We are grateful that the legislature has reached an agreement to invest billions in the Commonwealth’s roads, bridges and public transport system,” Baker said. “While I will carefully review the final bill that reaches my desk, I am pleased that it appears that this bill includes a number of proposals made by our administration in our Masstrack legislation that we filed several months ago.”
Strauss said the bill targets some of the problems his committee is already aware of. The committee has heard once so far.
“There will be more as the committee continues, but as a result of the monitoring process initiated by the speaker and the Senate president, there are already significant changes to this bill and there is no doubt about it,” Strauss said.
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