Baker appointee ‘mourns’ transportation vetoes

Tibbits-Nutt calls governor’s actions ‘heart-breaking’

ONE OF GOV. CHARLIE BAKER’S top transportation appointees took to Twitter on Tuesday to mourn four ”heart-breaking vetoes” the governor made last week to the transportation bond bill.

Monica Tibbits-Nutt, who serves on the boards of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board,  said in a long series of tweets that the $16.5 billion bond bill that became law last week contained much to like. But she said the governor’s vetoes of a congestion pricing commission, higher fees on Uber and Lyft rides, means-tested fares, and a grant program for transportation management associations were disappointing.

“Many of the vetoes represent missed opportunities for building a more equitable transportation system for all residents of the Commonwealth,” she said.

In his veto message, Baker said much more needs to be understood about the nature of work post-COVID before launching a congestion pricing commission. Tibbitts-Nutt, however, said the commission was a chance to gather real data about ways of addressing congestion problems.

“The ‘new normal’ WILL include congestion,” she tweeted. “We have the same antiquated street systems, the same housing crisis, the same inequitable distribution of alternative transportation options. Increased telework is not going to alleviate all of the factors driving our congestion.”

Tibbits-Nutt also lamented the governor’s veto of a new fee structure for Uber and Lyft rides, which Baker rejected as too complicated and premature. Tibbits-Nutt disagreed, saying the new fees would bring in at least $56 million a year and incentivize Massachusetts residents to share rides or use public transit.

“We are continuing to prioritize private companies creating SOV [single occupancy vehicle] trips over higher-occupancy, publicly-funded modes,” she tweeted.

Means-tested fares were a high priority for Tibbits-Nutt, who has championed their study and development at the MBTA. The provision in the bond bill would have required the T to move forward with reduced fares for low-income people and also set the stage for regional transit authorities to follow suit. Baker vetoed the measure because of uncertainties about the cost of foregoing fare revenue.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

“Without an actual commitment to action, we will just continue debating & studying. Meanwhile, we are missing an essential opportunity to make our transit system genuinely more equitable,” Tibbits-Nutt tweeted. “I agree that we need more revenue, but that need for revenue should not come on the backs of riders, and citing revenue loss as the reason for further delays feels particularly frustrating when the new [Uber and Lyft] fee structure was also vetoed.”

Tibbits-Nutt also raised concerns about the governor’s veto of a program providing grants to transportation management associations, private organizations that typically provide last-mile services to commuters. Tibbits-Nutt is the executive director of one such association – the 128 Business Council.