Gov. Charlie Baker outlined an $18 billion transportation bond proposal Thursday aimed at modernizing and building out roads and rail throughout Massachusetts amid increasing scrutiny over the MBTA.
Joined by MBTA officials, Baker revealed the bill, An Act Authorizing and Accelerating Transportation Investment, that would put more than $5.5 billion into MBTA modernization, $150 million into pavement conditions on state roads, a $2,000-per-person tax credit encouraging telecommuting and remote working and more.
"It adds almost 100,000 seats to our public transportation system and will dramatically improve its reach and reliability," Baker said at a news conference.
The bill encourages cities to create bus-only lanes, which can ease traffic congestion.
That part of the bill is a "great concept," according to Chris Dempsey, director of advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts. Overall, he called the bill "an okay start."
The announcement comes as commuters grow increasingly frustrated with delays, congestion and fare hikes. Activists and residents gathered Monday to protest the service, saying the MBTA has become unreliable and unaffordable.
Derailments on the Red and Green lines this summer have caused many commuters who rely on the MBTA to question the service and the recent increase in fares.
Baker is hoping that, if his version doesn't get passed by the Legislature, then another version does.
He was joined by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.