LivableStreets Alliance is dedicated to supporting policies at all levels of government that reflect a commitment to moving towards a better transportation system with an emphasis on equity. This year marks the start of another two-year legislative session on Beacon Hill, and we are prioritizing a number of bills that span a range of issues, including Vision Zero, fare free buses, and transportation revenue. Read on to learn more about our policy priorities for 2021.
“An Act relative to automated enforcement”, which the Senate came very close to passing last session, would allow municipalities to opt into installing cameras that would issue tickets for violations for speeding, failure to stop at a red light, failure to stop at a school bus stop arm, blocking the box, and parking or driving in a dedicated bus lane. When enacted in other states, automated enforcement has reduced speeding and serious crashes. More than 400 communities in the U.S. use red light cameras, and more than 130 use cameras to enforce speed laws.
Reducing Traffic Fatalities
H.3549, sponsored by Representatives Mike Moran and William Straus
“An Act to reduce traffic fatalities” is an omnibus bill that would require additional mirrors, side guards, and backup cameras for certain trucks and other large vehicles, define vulnerable road users and set a safe passing distance at certain speeds, allow the default speed limit on state-owned roads to be lowered to to 25 mph, and create a standardized crash report form for people walking and biking. Unlike other versions of the bill, including one passed by the Senate last session, this updated version includes important truck safety regulations and and maintains the current law requiring a person biking to use either a rear red light or reflector, instead of adding a requirement to use both a rear red light and a rear reflector; the latter has been proven to lead to racial profiling in other states.
Low Income Transit Fares
H.3526, sponsored by Representative Adrian Madaro
“An Act relative to low income transit fares” directs the MBTA and Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to implement and study a low income fare structure. This is the same language in the transportation bond bill that was vetoed by Governor Baker.
“An Act relative to fare free buses” would require the MBTA and allow RTAs to implement a one-year fare-free pilot.
Automated Bus Lane Enforcement
H.2494, sponsored by Representative Adrian Madaro
“An Act establishing automated bus lane enforcement” would allow automated cameras on buses to issue tickets for parking or driving in a dedicated bus lane.
Preventing MBTA Service Cuts
H.3554, sponsored by Representative Tram Nguyen
"An Act relative to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority service interruptions" would require the MBTA to use any increases in revenue, or additional federal COVID-19 relief funding, to prevent further service cuts and restore service, as well as to prioritize the restoration of scaled back capital projects.
Transportation New Deal
S.2265, sponsored by Senator Joe Boncore
“An Act creating a New Deal for Transportation in the Commonwealth” is a comprehensive bill that includes numerous policies to improve our transportation system including additional revenue, bus and rail transformation, a congestion pricing commission, low income fares, fare free bus for the MBTA and RTAs, and other measures.
“An Act relative to electric bicycles” would update Massachusetts’ e-bike law to define E-bikes and differentiate between low-speed and higher-speed electric bicycles, as well as allow for statewide regulation.
Debt-Based Driver’s License Suspensions
“An Act to End Debt-based Incarceration and Suspensions” would end debt-based driver's license suspensions, as part of a nationwide movement to stop the criminalization of poverty and break the cycle of debt. Every year, Massachusetts suspends tens of thousands of licenses for reasons unrelated to road safety. It's time to end this.
Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants
“An Act relative to work and family mobility during and subsequent to the COVID-19 emergency” would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, which, in addition to being an important equity measure, has proven to increase safety in other states.
Collecting Data on Traffic and Pedestrian Stops
S.1549, sponsored by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz
“An Act relative to traffic and pedestrian stop data” would require law enforcement agencies to collect and report on data from traffic enforcement stops, in order to analyze and address the prevalence of racial profiling.
Face Surveillance Regulation
“An Act to regulate face surveillance” would establish meaningful restrictions on racially biased face surveillance. Last year's police reform bill included some modest steps toward this goal, but it didn't go nearly far enough to safeguard our freedoms from this expanding technology.
Racial Profiling in Traffic Enforcement
S.1547, sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler
“An Act relative to traffic stops and racial profiling” would create a method of automated enforcement for certain traffic laws and remove them from being the reason for a primary traffic stop, and create a task force to review further advances to address racial profiling in traffic enforcement.
Generally, the revenue raised from these policies will help get our current infrastructure into a State of Good Repair, expand system capacity to accommodate a growing population, and build a 21st century transportation system that will be accessible, reliable, decarbonized, and resilient.
Fees for Transportation Network Companies
"An Act to reduce traffic and encourage shared rides" and "An act to reduce congestion and encourage shared rides" would increase per ride fees on transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft to put fees in line with other municipalities around the country while dedicating the revenue to municipalities, the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, the MBTA, and RTAs. This bill also provides for additional data collection from TNCs to better understand and manage congestion.
Regional Ballot Initiatives
"An act relative to regional transportation ballot initiatives" would enable a municipality, or a group of municipalities as a district, to raise additional local money for transportation projects, operations, or transit-oriented development via ballot initiatives. A supplement to other state and federal transportation revenue, these funds would give voters a more direct role in the process and show a clearer correlation between revenue and transportation projects. In states that allow these initiatives, there is an average 70-80% success rate.