Skip to Content

Download PDF

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2840        FILED ON: 1/21/2011

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 2660


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



Carl M. Sciortino, Jr.


To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act relative to transportation economic development and ridership.






Carl M. Sciortino, Jr.

34th Middlesex

John W. Scibak

2nd Hampshire

Ruth B. Balser

12th Middlesex

Peter V. Kocot

1st Hampshire

George T. Ross

2nd Bristol

James B. Eldridge


Elizabeth A. Malia

11th Suffolk

Jonathan Hecht

29th Middlesex

Cory Atkins

14th Middlesex

Carlo Basile

1st Suffolk

Chris Walsh

6th Middlesex

Kevin J. Murphy

18th Middlesex

Brian M. Ashe

2nd Hampden

Martha M. Walz

8th Suffolk

Denise Andrews

2nd Franklin

James Arciero

2nd Middlesex

Katherine M. Clark

Middlesex and Essex

William N. Brownsberger


Kay Khan

11th Middlesex

Alice K. Wolf

25th Middlesex

Denise Provost

27th Middlesex

Frank I. Smizik

15th Norfolk

Sean Garballey

23rd Middlesex

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2840        FILED ON: 1/21/2011

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 2660

By Mr. Sciortino of Medford, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 2660) of Carl M. Sciortino, Jr. and others for legislation to promote the building of more modern transportation systems.  Transportation. 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



In the Year Two Thousand Eleven



An Act relative to transportation economic development and ridership.


              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

              Section 1: This bill is intended to build a safer, more modern transportation system across the entire commonwealth that enhances public transportation ridership, and spurs job creation and economic development.  A better transportation system will encourage economic growth; promote fairness and equity; increase transportation choice and public transportation ridership; improve the health of Massachusetts residents; and reduce energy consumption, congestion, dependence on oil, and greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution.

              Section 2: Ridership Increases

              Section 11 of chapter 6C of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the third sentence the following:

              “The plan shall ensure that statewide public transportation ridership increases at least 2 percent each year.”

              Section 3:  Registration Fees

              Section 33 of chapter 90 of the General Laws as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended to require the registrar of motor vehicles to issue rules and regulations to increase registration fees for all motor vehicles by at least 10 dollars annually and 20 dollars biannually on all passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles (per 1,000 lbs), motorcycles, mopeds and antique motor vehicles no later than 60 days after this legislation is signed into law.  The registrar of motor vehicles shall also be allowed to further raise any other passenger or commercial motor vehicle fees.

              For all passenger vehicles required to register pursuant to chapter 90 whose value, as determined pursuant to chapter 60A, exceeds $35,000, the registrar shall collect an additional title fee at the time of registration equal to .1 percent of the value and additional registration renewal fee equal to .04 percent of the value for vehicles renewing annually and .08 percent of the value for vehicles renewing biannually.  Every 5 years, the registrar of motor vehicles shall be allowed to raise the value amount of passenger vehicles from which this additional title fee and additional registration renewal fees are collected.  Any such increase shall be proportional to the average increase of the value or passenger vehicles over the previous 5 years, as determined by Chapter 60A.

              The increase in funds will be distributed according to section 34 of chapter 90 of the General Laws, into the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, established by section 2ZZZ of chapter 29 of the General Laws.

              Section 4:  Vehicle Miles Traveled Pilot Study

              The federal Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Public Law, 109-59, established the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission to examine the condition and future needs of the nation’s surface transportation system, as well as short- and long-term alternatives to the fuel tax.  The search for alternative revenue is driven by the diminishing value of the fuel tax, declining supplies of conventional petroleum-based fuels, and increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles. 

              The commission issued its report in December 2007.  Among its recommendation was consideration of mileage-based user fee, also referred to as a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fee, which involves several technological and institutional challenges.

              The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) shall conduct a pilot study analyzing the benefits and challenges of implementing a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fee for all Massachusetts drivers.  The purpose of the pilot study will be to study the feasibility of supplementing or partially replacing the gas tax with a mileage-based fee based on miles driven in Massachusetts, and collected at fueling stations or through some alternative means; and to study the feasibility of using a VMT fee to collect congestion charges.

              The pilot shall include 5000-10,000 volunteers across the commonwealth, who will have on-board mileage-counting VMT equipment added to their vehicles.  The pilot will assess the following issues related to implementing a VMT fee in Massachusetts:

              (1)              Methods for calculating mileage;

              (2)              Process for transmitting data to protect the integrity of the data and ensure drivers’ privacy;

              (3)              Types of equipment that may be required of the state and drivers to implement a VMT fee, including a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the equipment and contingencies in the event of equipment failure.

              For a period of at least one year, volunteers will have their mileage, categorized location information, and timing of driving read at any participating service refueling stations or other locations.  During an initial period of the study, the on-board VMT counter communicates with mileage reader but the volunteer will pay only the gas tax.  During a final period of the study, volunteers will pay a road user fee or a combination of the gas tax and the road user fee.

              The final pilot study and review by MassDOT shall fully examine alternative ways in which a VMT fee program could be implemented in Massachusetts, including charging varying mileage fees depending on the time and type of road, an appropriate rate-per-mile for vehicles that achieve a certain fuel efficiency, for motorists that avoid rush hour zones, for those participating in other environmentally-friendly transportation situations like car-shares, or for low-income drivers without a transit alternative; provide recommendations for implementation of a fully-implemented VMT fee program that minimizes confusion and inconvenience to drivers while ensuring their privacy; and propose guidelines for use and implementation, and shall also analyze and test other potential alternatives or supplements to the gas tax, including open road tolling.

              MassDOT shall present its finding and recommendations for a fully-implemented VMT program to the Joint Committee on Transportation within two years from the adoption of this legislation.

              Section 5.  Rededication of Underground Storage Tank Funds

              Chapter 29 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting, after section 2BBBB, the following section:

              Section 2CCCC.  There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund to be known as the Underground Storage Tank Petroleum Product Cleanup Fund.  Amounts credited to said fund shall be used, subject to appropriation, for the purposes set forth in chapter 21J of the Massachusetts General Laws.  There shall be credited to such fund any fees, penalties, and other amounts collected pursuant to chapter 21J; any appropriation, grant, gift, or other contribution explicitly made to such fund; and any interest earned on monies within the fund.

              Any and all monies collected in excess of the purposes outlined in chapter 21J will be dedicated to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund.

              Section 6.  Expenditures for Maintaining and Repairing Municipal Ways and Bridges

              Section 4(b) of chapter 6C of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official addition, is hereby amended by striking the subsection and inserting in place thereof the following:

              (b) for expenditure by the department for maintaining and repairing municipal ways and bridges, sidewalks adjacent to such ways and bridges, bikeways, public transportation projects, and other projects eligible for funding as a transportation enhancement project as described in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, P.L. 102-240, provided that a city or town complies with the procedures established by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, not less than the following amount shall be distributed to cities and towns each fiscal year: 300,000,000.00 for projects eligible under this section, which funds shall be distributed prior to April 1 of each year.  The appropriation shall be considered as an available fund upon approval of the commissioner of revenue, and the commonwealth shall reimburse a city or town under this item within 30 days after receipt by the Department of a request for reimbursement from the city or town.

              It is recommended that when cities and towns pursue transportation enhancement projects, they shall include the goal of setting multi-modal accommodation and using appropriate traffic calming measures to ensure that the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users, and disabled people are integrated into the design, operation, and maintenance of streets to promote safe and convenient access and travel for all users. 

              Five percent of the funding in this section will be set aside for cities and towns that incorporate complete streets philosophies to expand transportation choices; encourage healthy and active living; reduce traffic congestion and fossil fuel use; and provide safe, convenient and comfortable routes for walking, bicycling, and public transportation.

              Complete streets infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, street and sidewalk lighting; sidewalks and pedestrian safety improvements such as median refuges or crosswalk improvements; improvements that provide ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant accessibility; transit accommodations including improved pedestrian access to transit stops and bus shelters; bicycle accommodations including bicycle storage, bicycle parking, bicycle routes, shared-use lanes, wide travel lanes or bike lanes as appropriate; street trees, boulevard landscaping, street furniture and adequate drainage facilities; and reduction in the number of travel lanes or removal of on-street parking.

              Section 7.  Universal University Pass Program

              The Massachusetts Department of Transportation shall develop a program beginning in fiscal year 2012 a mandatory Universal University Pass (U-Pass) program at colleges and universities throughout the commonwealth, with the intended purpose of providing unlimited rides on buses and trains operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the Regional Transit Authorities (RTA) to all full-time undergraduate and graduate students at accredited colleges and universities located within 1 mile of MBTA or RTA services. The U-Pass agreements shall contain all terms of participation by the schools, the Department’s obligations under the Program, and such other terms as necessary.

              The U-Pass fare for fiscal year 2012 shall be $100 per student, per academic semester.  The Massachusetts Department of Transportation shall determine any increase in the U-Pass fare for succeeding years.  All colleges and universities within the service area of the MBTA or one of the RTAs shall be required to pay the current U-Pass fare for each full-time undergraduate and graduate student, directly to the applicable transit authority.

              Section 8.  Massachusetts Transportation Infrastructure Bank

              The Massachusetts Transportation Infrastructure Bank will be established to provide loans, grants, and other financial assistance to cities, towns, and transit authorities to apply for all or part of the eligible cost of a qualified transportation project.  Preference will be given to those projects that contribute to economic growth, lead to job creation and workforce development, prioritize smart growth and equal protection principles in urban areas and gateway cities, reduce traffic congestion, and are of local or regional significance, prioritizing projects that make bike and pedestrian improvements, public transportation investments, and road and bridge maintenance or repairs aimed at fixing roads and bridges rather than building new ones, taking into account the economic, environmental and social benefits of each project.

              The Bank will be governed by a five-member Board of Directors, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the legislature.  The Directors shall include individuals representing different regions of the state.  The Board shall enter into financing agreements with qualified borrowers and shall have the power to make loans and loan guarantees; acquire, hold, and sell loan obligations; establish policies and procedures for administering loans and other financial assistance; issue and sell debt security, borrow money through the issuance of bonds and other indebtedness, and to monitor and oversee projects financed in whole or in part by the Bank.

              The Bank may be capitalized from the following sources:

              (1)              Commonwealth Transportation Fund;

              (2)              Federal funds made available to the commonwealth;

              (3)              Federal funds made available to the commonwealth for the purposes of the Bank;

              (4)              Legislative appropriations;

              (5)              Other lawful sources deemed appropriate by the Board.

              In fiscal year 2012, the bank shall receive no less than $50 million, transferred from the monies in the Commonwealth Transportation Fund.

              Section 9.  Transportation Finance Commission

              There is hereby established a special transportation finance commission to develop a comprehensive, multi-modal transportation funding distribution plan for the commonwealth.

              The commission shall have 10 members, including the following: 3 members who shall not be employees of the executive branch and who shall reside in different geographic regions of the commonwealth, 1 of whom shall be a representative of the Construction Industries of Massachusetts, to be appointed by the governor to serve terms of 2 years; 2 members, who shall not be members of the general court and who shall reside in different geographic regions of the commonwealth, to be appointed by the president of the senate to serve a term of 2 years; and 2 members, who shall not be members of the general court and who shall reside in different geographic regions of the commonwealth, to be appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives to serve a term of 2 years; a representative of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a representative of Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and a representative of advocacy groups on the T Riders Oversight Committee.  One of the members appointed by the governor, 1 of the members appointed by the senate president, and 1 of the members appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives shall be representatives of environmental organizations, planning organizations, transportation consumer organizations or other public interest organizations.  One of the members shall be appointed by the governor to serve as chairperson of the commission.  The members of the commission shall be appointed no later than September 1, 2011.

              The commission shall examine the current distribution of transportation funding in the commonwealth, and shall make a priority of examining whether funding distribution is regionally equitable, specifically whether cities and towns outside of the major metropolitan areas receive enough funding to pursue public transportation and bike and pedestrian transportation projects that meet the needs of residents.  Recognizing that public transportation and equity issues affect the entire commonwealth, the commission shall examine and develop recommendations on alternative funding distribution mechanisms, specifically designed to increase statewide public transportation options. The commission shall examine the feasibility of transportation funding distribution based on the existing 13 regional planning organizations, or based on Chapter 90 formula funding to cities and towns. 

              The commission shall also develop specific performance measures for transportation projects including without limitation performance measures regarding cost efficiency, greenhouse gas emission and other air pollution reduction, potential for economic growth, fairness and equity.   Any distribution of transportation funding shall be consistent with the performance measures set by the commission within 2 years of passage of this legislation.

              The commission shall also examine all avenues available to the MBTA for cost efficiencies and debt reduction, with the goal of reducing MBTA debt service to 8 percent of the MBTA’s operating budget.  The commission shall make specific recommendations of fair and equitable cost efficiencies and debt reduction measures that the MBTA can implement, and shall analyze the MBTA’s true projected revenue necessary over the next twenty years to operate in a state of good repair.  The commission shall submit a report to the legislature no later than one year of passage of this legislation. 

              The commission’s report shall include recommended legislative language, on which the sitting legislature will have one year to act.

              Any research, analysis or other staff support that the commission reasonably requires shall be provided by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

              Section 10. Location Efficient Mortgages

              The Undersecretary of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development shall establish annual goals for location efficient mortgages.  Within one year of this legislation, the Undersecretary shall develop a plan providing for the use and purchase of location-efficient mortgages in a manner designed to help achieve a significant reduction in the number of vehicle miles traveled and submit a report to the Legislature that describes the extent of mortgage purchases in compliance with the goals established.

              For the purposes of this section, the term “location efficient mortgage” means a mortgage loan under which the income of the borrower, for purposes of qualification for such loan, is considered to be increased by not less than $1 for each $1 of savings projected to be realized by the borrower because the location of the home for which loan is made results in decreased transportation costs for the household of the borrower.

The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The General Court provides this information as a public service and while we endeavor to keep the data accurate and current to the best of our ability, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.