Beacon hill lawmakers haggle over ways to pay for traffic fixes

BOSTON — Several ideas have been floated to address growing traffic woes in the greater Boston area, like congestion pricing, modernized rail service and adding high occupancy vehicle lanes.

But how do you pay for it?

That was the subject up for debate at the state house Wednesday as a group of business leaders asked lawmakers to approve the first increase on fuel taxes since 2013.

There are several pieces of legislation that lawmakers are trying to get into one master plan.  From raising gas taxes, to charging ride shares more to creating times of day when you pay more to use the roads. They are all aimed at paying for a way to alleviate traffic problems.

"Right now, people don't -- with confidence -- take the MBTA. We need to rebuild that trust and confidence," Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce CEO Jim Rooney said.

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is not 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 car gas tax. But The chamber of commerce says a 15-cent increase over the three years is more realistic.  Higher fees on ride shares is also in the discussion.

Uber says the state's congestion report indicates rideshares account "for only four percent of vehicle traffic, and any attempt to solve congestion while ignoring 96 percent of traffic is like painting your house with a toothbrush."

The transportation legislation is also looking at the idea of congestion pricing so if you drive your car on certain roads at certain times you would pay a higher toll.

"If you are going to choose and you have the means to drive your vehicle, then maybe you should pay more," Rooney said.

Some commuters say they need more info before deciding on paying more.

"It's a double-edged sword," Boston resident Mary Gigliotti said. "It's been a great opportunity for people to make money in that regard with the Ubers in that situation."

"San Francisco is a similar size to Boston, yet they have 45,000 people who work out of their home -- so that is another solution," Boston resident Terry McDermott said.

The frustrating thing for many people working on these initiatives is there is no one piece of legislation.

Everything is in pieces and many agree they need all the pieces to make this work.

Read: GBCC transportation agenda presentation