FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — The Connecticut Department of Transportation is proposing hikes in train and bus fares to deal with state budget cuts of about $37 million.
Do you agree with the state's plan to raise train and bus fares to help balance the DOT budget?
Yes, we all have to help
No, this fare hike 'came out of nowhere'
The state announced the cuts in a statement posted at the DOT website.
CTDOT's plan for the new fiscal year, which began July 1, makes cuts across the boards while increasing fares for both trains and buses to balance its budget.
CTDOT’s plan impacts both highway and public transportation elements of the budget. Road and bridge program reductions total $19 million and public transportation program reductions total $18 million.
The proposal calls a 5 percent fare increase on Metro-North's New Haven Line, including on the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branches, and Shore Line East.
The hikes would be effective Dec. 1 and would generate about $5.9 million in new revenue.
On the New Haven Line, the increase on Dec. 1 would be combined with a 1 percent previously scheduled fare increase for the purchase of the new M-8 rail cars.
Another $7.2 million would be saved by closing under-used ticket windows at the Greenwich, South Norwalk and Bridgeport stations; savings on fuel for Shore Line East fuel savings, and reducing overtime costs through reduced after-hours maintenance.
At the New Haven station, two ticket windows will be open on weekday mornings, down from the current three.
The standard one-way fare on the statewide CTTransit bus service would go up 25 cents, from $1.50 to $1.75, and the express bus fares and other pre-paid fare types would rise a proportional percentage – generating an estimated $2.3 million.
About $1 million will be saved through subsidy reductions to local transit district operations and other reductions.
A series of hearings to discuss the proposed rail and bus fare increases will be held in September.
Gov. Dannel Malloy has written a letter about the reductions, which can be found here.
Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker said the proposal ensures a balanced budget in this fiscal year and positions CTDOT for the new economic realities in the upcoming biennial budget.
The highway and bridge reductions would include decreasing maintenance work related to items such as tree cutting, joint and crack sealing, and drainage work.
Additional plan savings include delays in hiring personnel, anticipated fuel savings and anticipated reduced salt purchases based on larger than normal starting inventories resulting from last year’s mild winter.
CTDOT also plans to cut staffed hours at seven highway rest areas and to close the Westbrook welcome center. The seven staffed rest areas will be closed overnight, but truck parking will be permitted.
The only hearing in Fairfield County on the fare hikes will be Wednesday Sept. 14 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the UConn-Stamford Campus Auditorium.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.