Charlie Baker thinks the issue of the how to fix the lingering issues related to the financially-troubled MBTA transit system in Boston is still up in the air. During a February 19 appearance on WGBH Public Radio in Boston, Governor Baker said that, while all options are being evaluated, the issue of raising taxes to solve the issue is one he’s reluctant to consider. Campaigning for his recent election, Baker said he would not raise fees or taxes and that he was in favor of repealing a law that linked the gas tax to the inflation rate.
Conservatives groups have pushed for the MBTA to be placed into receivership. Baker noted that the city of Chelsea, a fiscal control board in Springfield, and the Lawrence Public Schools all successfully emerged from receivership. However, he said he was not yet ready to consider that option for the transit system.One suggestion that has periodically come up as a potential solution was for the MBTA to transfer some of its debt to the state. That debt was related to the agreement made a quarter-century ago that committed the state to expanding the transit system at a cost of an estimated $3 billion.
According to Baker, the operating budget for the MBTA has risen by 50 percent over the past seven to eight years, and that commuter rail operations were significantly increased despite a drop in passenger trips. Baker also noted that since 2000, the MBTA has grown faster than any other mass transit system in the country, despite the population remaining at virtually the same level.The situation has become much more pronounced in the past few months due to the mountains of snow covering the region. Full service has been forced to shut down during successive major storms.
Baker stated that much of his senior staff has been working on transit issues and expects the service levels to be much improved.