The Boston Rebellion: Higher Car Taxes + Crumbling Infrastructure = Pissed-Off People


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will lose $161 million this year, and $100 million next year. As a result, subway, train, and bus fares are increasing, along with a new and unpopular state-wide proposal to add a 1-cent-per vehicle-miles-traveled in an effort to bail out the MBTA.

The city of Boston Massachusetts and the surrounding towns are the crucible of revolution in the United States. The area is home to world class universities, museums, and one of the nation’s oldest public transportation systems managed by the MBTA. Yet even with MBTA ridership hitting an all time high, the MBTA faced a $161 million budget deficit this year, and another $100 million budget deficit next year. This is very bad news in an economy that is growing slowly, or not growing at all depending on the analysis.

While questions are swirling about what doomed the MBTA financially, a few long term scenarios have been floated by the MBTA to fix the financial mess. These scenarios include raising fares up to 43% — happening in July — cutting numerous bus lines, all weekend commuter rail trips, and all ferry routes, and now a $0.01 tax on vehicle miles traveled.

The biggest mode shift that will result from the MBTA’s proposals is an increase in car trips. It has been estimated that total daily vehicle miles traveled will increase by between 430,837 to 626,060 miles if fares are increased and routes are cut. That is the equivalent of between 55,000 and 92,000 more cars on the road each day. That means more traffic congestion, lost productivity for workers sitting in traffic, and more air pollution. Carbon dioxide emissions alone will increase by approximately 50,000 tons per year.

As for the $0.01 tax on vehicle miles traveled, it is a hypothetical right now. However, Massachusetts is not the only state looking at such a tax.  States across the union are looking for new ways to procure income and replace the obsolete gas tax at the pump with a Vehicle Mileage Tax. The current Federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. However, President Obama has ordered a 40% increase by in fleet-wide fuel economy by, 2016 so now states are looking for ways to supplement the old tax without increasing the so-called “pain-at-the-pump.” A $0.01 tax on vehicle miles traveled brings up all kinds of questions; does the tax count if you drive out of state? What if someone steals your car; do you get the stolen miles back?

This is a big issue right now in Massachusetts and is really making a divide between pro MBTA folks — think pro mass transportation like rail and bus — and anti MBTA folks.  With the fair increases and sliding cost of gas many people are starting to second guess the economic value of the MBTA in the state and are considering turning back to their cars in order to do their daily commute, even with a hypothetical $0.01 tax on miles traveled. The first Revolution started over a tax on tea; will a tax on miles traveled launch a second Revolution?


Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison


About the Author

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor's Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master's Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison
  • Tem

    This makes the most sense in that it captures revenue to support the
    maintenance and repair of the infrastructure being used here, not road building in, let’s say, Afganistan.;-)
    All users of the road way will pay to use it: cng, biofuels, electric, benzine, diesel, coffee grind powered, what have you. It’s a quit yer bi$&@in’ policy.
    So long as the federal tax is repealed or modernized to resemble this mileage tax, and it should be a write off for everyone, 100%!
    The great thing is that we all have the technology built right into each and every vehicle already. It wouldn’t be worth tampering with the odometer in most cases.

  • Gas is way too cheap in the states because they externalize the military costs to protect the oil flows. Tax it like Europe and the trains will be packed and the budget balanced.


    • I Pay Yourebt

      You have no understanding of oil prices , cost basis, refinement costs and profit margin within the oil industry. You have a much lower understanding of the European Economies you mention and fail to understand that their transportation costs limit their economies growth and the gas taxes are used for supporting social programs not the military. The US military I hate to disappoint you are not the cause of the artificial low prices buti know people who never served or never lived outside the US fail to understand that the outside world is an idyllic world with the US military as the sole aggressor..
      I am a US citizen by CHOICE not by BIRTH..Everyday people like you give your freedom away – I choose to fight to keep mine.

  • I Pay Yourebt

    Take into consideration that in the wonderful state of the economy allows all employees to find work instantaneously and within walking distances to our homes…now click your heels Dorothy your not in Kansas anymore…
    The mileage tax and it’s proponents are nothing but shills for the insurance industry, parasites that dont need to commute to receive their EBT cards and trust fund divas that are living off the exploits of thei ancestors yet are too ignorant to understand that “great wealth comes from great crimes.” I don’t understand where people “forget” that the gas tax is a road tax paid by those that commute for road maintenance not for the wonderful benefits given to our illegals , our terminally unemployed or the various parasites in the public trough. Why are our taxes not used for their intended purposes? We ” forget ” that he Masspike tolls are only ” temporary” until the pike was paid in full. The pike has been paid in full for decades! Why are people from the western suburbs the only ones that pay a toll? Where’s the money going ?

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