SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

November 18, 2013

Bond hikes fines for skipping MBTA fares

BOSTON — A $12.1 billion transportation bond bill that emerged from a Statehouse committee last week is packed with money for major projects favored by Gov. Deval Patrick but also includes provisions for doubling the fines for fare evasion on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail trains, subways and buses alike.

The five-year bill includes $175 million for rail links between Pittsfield and New York City, Worcester and Springfield, as well as Boston and Cape Cod, along with $2.2 billion for the South Coast Rail to New Bedford and Fall River.

It also included $1.3 billion for the Green Line extension, $2.5 billion for trains and buses, and $300 million for a South Station expansion that’s seen as critical to efforts to increase commuter rail capacity.

Patrick and Transportation Secretary Richard Davey had pushed for a $1.9 billion tax bill earlier this year to fund transportation and education and wound up with roughly $340 million in new taxes this summer.

“This is a project spending level that from my conversations with the secretary, the administration finds acceptable,” Transportation Committee House Chairman William Straus, a Mattapoisett Democrat, told the News Service. He said, “That $12 billion number is specifically what the administration asked for, after we had done the tax bill.”

The bill, however, also doubles the fines for fare evasion on the MBTA and its commuter rail, which serves the North Shore and saw those fares and fines alike increased in 2012 as part of an MBTA bailout.

“We did increase those fines so no one thinks there is anything like a free ride on the T,” Straus told the State House News Service.

Among items not included in the bill is local road funding known as Chapter 90.

Earlier in the year, the committee separated out Chapter 90 funding from the governor’s transportation bond bill, which gave it 10 years at $300 million per year.

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