“I know three cents a gallon isn’t a lot of money — people say it’s like a cup of coffee,” Peterson said. “But it has a negative impact on our economy.
Sciortino contended Republican claims that improvements could be made on the MBTA and elsewhere without raising taxes.
“The idea that there’s money floating around that we can transfer to transportation ... it’s just not real,” Sciortino said.
Minutes before debate began on the bill, about 100 protesters gathered outside the State House, calling on legislators to provide greater funding to the MBTA to make it possible to lower fares for The Ride, the T’s door-to-door car service for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Fares for the The Ride were increased from $2 to $4 last year.
“For over a year now we’ve been fighting to make sure they raise revenue — that they do that in a way that holds down increases for low- and middle-income folks,” said Carolyn Villers, executive director of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council. “Instead, they come up with a few dollars that’s going to come on our backs, and they refuse to roll back The Ride fare which has left thousands unable to access doctors and their communities.”
After chanting at the State House gates, seven of the protesters lined a crosswalk on Beacon Street, blocking traffic. Police arrested four of the protesters, including Villers.
Jim O’Sullivan contributed to this report. Martine Powers can be reached at email@example.com