A review of active and potential revenue sources for transportation operating, maintenance, and infrastructure projects in Massachusetts, including roads and highways, public transit systems, and bicycle and pedestrian upgrades.


Somerville Streets

Transportation Revenue Options Handbook(March 2013)

The growing imbalance between available resources and the capital and operating needs of the Commonwealth’s transportation system is jeopardizing the state’s ability to operate, maintain, modernize and strategically expand the transportation system that connects and supports the Massachusetts economy. As a result, difficult decisions will have to be made, including decisions about providing additional revenue to support transportation operations and investments.

Three non-profit organizations that have long worked on transportation issues in Massachusetts – the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, A Better City (ABC) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) – have combined to form the Transportation Finance Research Collaborative to generate and share high quality research on topics relevant to solving Massachusetts’ transportation finance crisis. This Transportation Revenue Options Handbook, prepared with the assistance of AECOM, is part of that effort. The hope of the Collaborative is that this Handbook will assist interested stakeholders and policymakers evaluate the potential strengths and weaknesses of candidate revenues sources currently in use to fund transportation capital investment or operations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as potential new taxes and fees many of which are used to fund transportation in other states.


Old MBTA tokens. Credit Jessamyn West.

The list of nineteen potential revenue sources evaluated in the Handbook is not inclusive of all existing or potential funding sources, but was selected to complement parallel efforts underway and avoid duplication of effort. Additional revenue streams could come from other sources, including increasing tolls, introduction of a VMT tax, fares, and/or Massport participation; however, the potential of these revenue streams is being evaluated under separate study or is best handled by the operating agencies due to their complicated structures.

To allow interested stakeholders and policymakers to easily compare the different revenue options, the Handbook consists of a collection of identically-formatted two page “fact sheets” about each revenue source. Each fact sheet presents the reader with critical information about each option’s fiscal and legislative impact. The revenue options reviewed in the Handbook include:

This Handbook was prepared as a research project to inform the policy debate on transportation revenue in Massachusetts. The inclusion of any revenue option in this report is not intended as an endorsement of that revenue source by the Collaborative or any of its member organizations

Nor did the Collaborative generate an independent estimate of the gap between existing revenue and needs This Handbook was prepared to provide information about a “menu” of revenue options that could be combined to produce whatever amount of funding is ultimately found to be appropriate

The Transportation Finance Research Collaborative hopes that stakeholders and policymakers will find this information on revenue options helpful as they wrestle with the difficult but important question of ensuring sufficient transportation revenue for Massachusetts.

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