Massachusetts lawmakers mulling gas tax increase

Massachusetts

BOSTON (WPRI) — A group of business leaders is asking lawmakers to pass the first increase of the gas tax since 2013.

There are several pieces of legislation that lawmakers are trying to get into one master plan.  It’s all in an effort to address growing traffic woes in the greater Boston area.

Rush hour is getting more crowded and the state is looking for new money to help find and pay for new solutions.

“Right now, people don’t feel like with confidence they can take the MBTA.  We need to rebuild that trust and confidence,” Jim Rooney, President & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce said.

The Boston Chamber of Commerce isn’t the only group looking to tap a new revenue stream to fund transportation solutions.  The advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts is pitching a 25-cent increase in the gas tax.

“The conditions of roads and bridges and our transit system around the city is in rough shape.  We need to be making the system better,” Chris Dempsey, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts said.

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce says a 15-cent increase over the next three years is more realistic. Higher fees on ride-sharing are also in the discussion.

Uber pushed back against that recommendation saying, “for only four percent of vehicle traffic, and any attempt to solve congestion while ignoring 96% of traffic is like painting your house with a toothbrush.”

The state is also looking at the idea of congestion pricing where motorists on certain roads during certain times would pay a higher toll, as well as more HOV lanes.

Rhode Island just raised its gas tax by a penny per gallon over the summer, but the Department of Revenue said that increase was due to inflation.

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