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Keller @ Large: Time To Face Reality - Gas Tax And Tolls

BOSTON (CBS) - The MBTA brass did the best they could with the situation they had yesterday, proposing fare hikes, a few service cuts, and a bunch of one-time revenue grabs to close the system's $161 million budget deficit.

Listen to Jon's commentary:


And to their credit, both they and the governor were candid about the fact that this fix really doesn't fix anything at all.

"I can't emphasize enough this is a one-year solution," said transportation czar Rich Davey, adding: "We will be back in the same position a year from now, looking at service cuts and potentially more fare increases."

"This is neither a permanent nor a comprehensive solution," said Gov. Patrick. "The T will be back in this situation next year."

What they didn't say, I will: they are kicking the can down the road because the legislature doesn't have the political nerve to address what's really needed to properly pay for and maintain our public transit system – some kind of mix of gas-tax increases and new highway tolls.

You'll recall that the governor, responding to a bi-partisan commission's recommendations of how to solve a $20 billion funding gap in our overall transportation infrastructure, proposed a gas tax increase in 2009 that was dead on arrival on Beacon Hill.

Why was it DOA?

Because people who don't use the T and don't want to pay more to use the roads they drive on make it clear to their legislators that they don't want them voting for tax or toll hikes.

And most of the legislators either don't get it or don't have the nerve to tell their constituents the unpleasant truth of the situation.

I don't want to pay more for gas or tolls either.

But we cannot have a viable economy without usable roads and bridges and functioning, reasonably affordable public transit.

So now our legislators – and we the people who elect them – have a year to grow up and face reality.

We'll see if we have what it takes.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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