Hearing for Baker’s transportation bond bill held on Beacon Hill

BOSTON — A packed room at the Statehouse Tuesday, as Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack headlined a hearing on Governor Charlie Baker’s $18 billion transportation bond bill.

The push comes amid growing frustrations from commuters when it comes to roads and rails, and most notably, problems with the aging “T.”

“We have a transit system that breaks down on a daily basis,” said Chris Dempsey, executive director for “Transportation for Massachusetts.”

Just this morning, mechanical delays stalled a train on the Worcester line. It had to be pushed by another train to South Station.

Monday night, on the Red Line, sparks and smoke caused delays.

“As much as I love the MBTA, I believe that we need to invest billions in modernization and expansion. We need transportation solutions that work for everyone and communities throughout the state remembering that the vast majority of all travel takes place on our roads and bridges,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.

The governor’s bill hopes to strengthen the MBTA while improving highways and bridges and addressing climate change and congestion.

State Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Barnstable, said she’s optimistic.

“I’m incredibly optimistic that this transportation bill is similarly going to be a generational game changer, in the way we fund stop and almost more importantly the way we provide public transit to the citizens of Massachusetts," Peake said.

Dempsey said: "We’re supportive of the governor’s bill but we think it needs to do more.”

The group “Transportation for Massachusetts” has offered its support to the governor but it emphasizes raising revenues.

Among them, they include a tack on a 6.25 percent fee for Uber and Lyft trips; a time-of-day tolling to reduce traffic during peak times; and increasing the state gas tax by 25 cents for every gallon.

But Pollack expressed other opinions.

“We should not measure success by how many billions of dollars are invested over the next five years and certainly not by how much money, revenue is raised,” Pollack said.

The governor hopes this bill passes this legislative session, which wraps up July 31.

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