(BOSTON – 07/31/2022) The Legislature’s final version of the transportation bond bill, which was released from conference committee on Saturday, was enacted by both the House and Senate on Sunday. It authorizes over $11.3 billion for transportation and infrastructure projects, including $400 million for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to address ongoing safety concerns identified by the Federal Transit Administration’s Safety Management Inspection and $275 million for the East-West passenger rail project.
“This package demonstrates the Legislature’s commitment to investing in transportation and infrastructure projects and the MBTA that are environmentally sustainable, and regionally equitable. Safe and affordable transportation are what my constituents have been asking for. The result is that this legislation will create jobs. May gratitude goes out to my colleagues, President Spilka and Speaker Mariano for passing this spending initiative.” said Senator Michael D. Brady (D-Brockton)
The highlights of the bill include:
- $3,500,000,000 for projects funded with discretionary federal grant funds, including funds from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
- $2,812,457,157 for projects on the interstate and non-interstate federal highway system
- $1,375,000,000 for sustainable transit system modernization and rail improvements
- $1,270,000,000 for non-federally aided roadway and bridge projects and for the non-participating portion of federally aided projects
- $145,000,000 for multi-modal transportation planning and programming
- $114,100,000 for the Airport Improvement Program
- $85,000,000 for pavement and surface conditions on non-federally aided roadways
- $82,000,000 for rail improvements
- $64,900,000 for projects of regional transit networks and facilities
- $25,501,000 for the Mobility Assistance Program
- $25,000,000 for pavement and surface conditions on municipal roadways
- $25,000,000 for grants to Transportation Management Associations
- $20,000,000 for grants to municipalities under the Complete Streets Funding Program
- $10,000,000 for a public realm improvement program
To promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), the bill also includes $175 million for the development and implementation of programs to promote, establish or expand public electric vehicle charging infrastructure, the development and implementation of incentive programs promoting e-bikes and public transportation, replacement of high-emissions vehicles, electric vehicles for hire and carsharing, electric school buses, electric short-haul freight and delivery trucks, and for other pilot projects that focus on equity and inclusion while reducing emissions.
The bill makes significant reforms to address the severe safety concerns around the MBTA. The bill mandates the MBTA to establish and maintain a three-year safety improvement plan with measurable safety objectives for the agency, and it directs the MBTA to contract with an independent third-party auditor to conduct annual safety audits. To ensure transparency around the MBTA’s safety, the bill directs the MBTA to submit a monthly, publicly available report containing all the incidents, accidents, casualties, and hazards affecting any of its modes of transit. In addition, the MBTA is required to develop and implement short-term, medium-term, and long-term plans for how each line of the commuter rail system can be fully integrated into the Commonwealth’s transportation system and contribute to the productivity, equity, and decarbonization efforts of the MBTA as a whole.
Other policy provisions related to the MBTA include requiring the authority to provide parking alternatives to commuters when it demolishes or reconstructs parking lots or garages it operates; to hold a mandatory, 30-day appeal process during which the authority must confer with the municipality’s planning officials to explore alternatives when there is a bus route service elimination; and to develop an updated service and operational plans for established and potential water transportation routes involving passenger ferry service.
Additionally, the bill:
- Creates a special commission on mobility pricing to investigate, study and make recommendations on the development and deployment of comprehensive and regionally equitable public transportation pricing, roadway pricing and congestion pricing.
- Creates a commission to investigate and receive public testimony concerning public entities with the ability to design, permit, construct, operate and maintain passenger rail service that meets the standards of at least one of the final alternatives set forth in the East-West Passenger Rail Study Final Report.
- Regulates the use of e-bikes to encourage their adoption and authorizes municipalities and the state to adopt ordinances or regulations concerning the use of such e-bikes on bike paths and bikeways.
- Requires transportation network companies to submit data related to pre-arranged rides for the purposes of congestion management.
- Requires MassDOT, in consultation with the comptroller, to create a website to report on expenditures from this act and any project receiving federal funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
- Requires MassDOT, in consultation with the Executive Office Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA), to study the feasibility of wildlife crossing projects for the purpose of establishing and maintaining these projects.
- Authorizes the MassDOT to create positions and hire staff for the purpose of conducting research and policy analysis for the MBTA board of directors.