Democratic candidate for governor Ben Downing on Tuesday rolled out an expansive transportation agenda that includes fare-free public transit by the end of his first term, East-West rail connecting Boston to Albany and the complete electrification of the commuter rail system.

The East Boston resident and former state senator from the Berkshires said he would pay for the improvements through a bevy of new taxes and fees, including federal COVID-19 relief funding, an income surtax on millionaires, congestion pricing in Greater Boston and higher gas taxes.

“As income inequality deepens, infrastructure crumbles, traffic congestion soars, and our climate changes, we all see and pay the cost of Beacon Hill’s failure to invest in our transportation needs,” Downing said. “As Governor, I won’t kick the can any further down the road.”

Downing plans to sell the plan over the next two weeks through a series of stops around the state, beginning on Tuesday at the Blue Line station in Orient Heights followed by a ride on the 28 bus from Mattapan to Dudley Station in Roxbury. He also has events planned this week in Worcester, Lee and Springfield.

Downing said all MBTA and regional transit authority bus fares would be free by the end of his first year in office, and by the end of his first term he said all MBTA fares would be free.

“I’m prioritizing fare-free MBTA+RTA buses first because it’s an effective way to deliver equitable transit services to our most vulnerable residents,” Downing tweeted outside the Orient Heights station.

In addition to American Rescue Plan Act funds and tax revenue that would be generated by the “millionaires’ tax” on the ballot next year, Downing said he would propose a gas tax increase of between 10 cents and 15 cents, a new sales tax on Uber and Lyft rides, peak-hour congestion pricing in metro Boston and the option for regions to raise locally-assessed taxes to fund specific projects.

(Copyright (c) 2022 State House News Service.

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