Finally, finally, finally the State House debate on a transportation funding law is over — at least for this year — and it’s pretty clear that most normal people never want to hear the words “transportation finance” again.
After a whole lot of drama between legislators and Governor Deval Patrick, the House and Senate passed a bill that raises taxes, places a slew of demands on the Department of Transportation, and earmarks a big chunk of change — $800 million per year by 2018 — to pay for the T, MassDOT personnel, regional transit authorities, and some big-budget construction projects.
But what does this new law mean for the average commuter? Here’s what you need to know:
-Taxes: Tax hikes on gas and tobacco— an additional 3 cents per gallon, and $1 per cigarette pack — start Wednesday.
-MBTA fares: No more budget-busting fare hikes. Because of the new law, the MBTA can raise ticket prices only once every two years, and can increase prices no more than 5 percent each time.
-Dunkin’ Donuts Station? By Jan. 1, MassDOT will have to solicit a proposal for companies interested in buying or leasing the naming rights to subway, bus, or commuter rail stations.
-Tolls: MassDOT has 90 days to come up with a plan to reinstitute tolls between Exits 1 and 6 on the western end of the Pike, which haven’t existed since 1996.
-Tolls, part two: Transportation officials must also study whether it would be feasible to establish tolls along the state’s borders.
-Premium parking: The T must institute a premium parking program at three high-traffic lots, where a maximum of 10 percent of parking spots will be reserved for people willing to pay a little extra for an assigned spot.
-Return of the Night Owl? The T must issue a request for proposals from businesses and organizations willing to sponsor late-night T service.Martine Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.