MassDOT Head Addresses Proposals for Long-Term MBTA Funding
Plans for a $0.01 tax on vehicle miles traveled and other proposed funding measures are "hypotheticals," but "everything has to be on the table," said MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey.
Richard Davey, secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said that despite recent media reports, the state does not yet have specific proposals to help the MBTA climb out of its fiscal mess.
Speaking on the phone with Somerville Patch Tuesday, he said some proposals reported on by local media—including Somerville Patch—in the past two days were "hypotheticals," but he warned that the need to find more revenue for the MBTA is real, and as that discussion takes place, "everything has to be on the table."
A letter sent Monday to Davey by the Federal Transit Administration regarding the Green Line Extension's New Starts application for federal funding said the MBTA needs to make "[c]onsiderable progress on gaining commitment of new sources of funding."
The letter outlines some of the state's proposals for that funding. They include transferring $1.6 billion of MBTA debt to the state, implementing a $0.01 per mile statewide tax on vehicle miles traveled and allocating casino gaming revenues to the MBTA, among others.
Davey said those ideas were put forth in the state's application to join the New Starts program, but they were hypothetical ideas. MassDOT used the "everything and the kitchen sink approach" to show the federal government that Massachusetts has options, he said.
"What we proposed is some hypotheticals in how to get the T's fiscal [situation] in order," the transportation secretary said.
"Bottom line is we really need to move from hypothetical to reality over the next 12 to 18 months," he added.
The MBTA faced a $161 million budget deficit this year, forcing it to raise fares, make service changes and seek aid from the state—a process that is still ongoing. The T faces another $100 million budget deficit next year, Davey said at a transportation rally Monday.
What's more, "The T is really the tip of the iceberg," he said.
"At this point, just about every observer of transportation policy is acknowledging the problem exists," Davey said.
He added that "people are really starting to pay attention to this" and there's been a "tremendous groundswell of concern and focus."
"Ultimately, it's about jobs and economic development," he said.