Tax Parking to Fund Public Transit?

In Massachusetts, transportation funding is one of the key issues to be addressed by the state legislature this year. James Aloisi, former Transportation Secretary, offers an inventive way to fund Transit Improvement Districts.

The primary source of transportation funding in Massachusetts is a 19-cent gas tax that has been unchanged since 1993. Governor Patrick Deval Patrick attempted to increase that tax in 2009, but the legislature opted to use increased sales tax revenue to fund transit and roads when those attempts failed.

The current funding is insufficient to address the state's transportation needs, and to make up the gap, Aloisi has proposed what he calls a "carbon impact parking assessment." The assessment is envisioned as a tax on nonresidential parking lots and garages with more than 20 spaces that are located within the district of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Revenue from the parking tax would be directed towards improving the public transportation system and bike and pedestrian pathways.

"Parking taxes are not unusual in major cities," says Ryan Holeywell, "but at times, they have been politically unpopular." Such plans have resulted in political strife, such as when the University of Scranton sued its namesake city over a new parking tax and when Chicago residents objected to the $2-per-day "congestion fee" implemented by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"Aloisi says the plan would mitigate the environmental impact of automobiles while providing funding for other modes of transportation and ensuring that funding remains locally controlled."

Full Story: Should Parking Be Taxed to Fund Bike Paths?

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