In the early hours of Wednesday morning, state lawmakers agreed to pump $16.5 billion into a variety of transportation projects via a new bond bill that also endeavors to increase rates for taking a ride share service.
Those hailing an Uber or Lyft could see new fees tacked onto their ride, especially if using a luxury vehicle, or taking one within the MBTA’s core area.
Along with that, the bill also decriminalizes fare evasion, and provides funding for the approaches to the Cape’s two main bridges, among other initiatives.
Here’s a look at what the new bill will do, if signed by Gov. Charlie Baker:
New rates to be imposed on ride shares
Those using ride-share services like Uber and Lyft would see new fees tacked onto their rides in an increase from the $.20 flat rate fee currently imposed.
Under the new law, there would be a $.40 fee tacked on to a shared ride, $1.20 for a ride that isn’t shared, and $2.20 per non-shared ride taken in a luxury vehicle, according to State House News Service.
On top of that, there would be an additional 20 cents added for rides taken within the top service areas of the MBTA, according to CommonWealth Magazine. The money collected from this additional fee is planned to help with the cost of low-income fare programs.
Decriminalizing fare evasion
The bill includes language on MBTA fare evasion, noting that a rider will not be arrested for not paying the fare. Those who do receive two citations for unpaid fares, and who don’t pay the fine, however, will be unable to renew their driver’s license.
The bill also mandates that every year, the MBTA will issue a report on citations and warnings issued regarding fare evasions.
Funding for transportation projects
Multiple transportation projects received funding through the bill. These include money toward a connection between the Red and Blue lines, work on the approaches to the Bourne and Sagamore bridges, and commuter rail service to the South Coast, according to State House News Service.
The Red Blue Connector, as dubbed by the state, has been in discussion for at least a decade. In 2010, a report was released on environmental impacts if the Blue Line was brought from Bowdoin to Charles/MGH by going under Cambridge Street, allowing for connection to the Red Line. The state, along with the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, conducted a couple analyses in 2018 for the ongoing project, the state’s website says.
The ongoing South Coast Rail project plans to extend commuter rail service from Stoughton to New Bedford with two new stations planned in Freetown and Fall River. The first phase is planned to finish in 2023 with a potential full completion in 2030.
On Cape Cod, the Sagamore and Bourne bridges have both been around for more than eight decades, and the state is eyeing replacements. In the past, Gov. Charlie Baker said both new bridges would have wider lanes, and space for cyclists and pedestrians.
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