Sen. Boucher / Fare increases, cuts to rail service will hurt shoreline economy
Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker has been traveling up and down the shoreline for the past two weeks. During these public hearings, he has told commuters that the state must increase rail and bus fares and — at the same time — reduce and eliminate some route schedules.
The proposal has enraged commuters who pay higher and higher fares without seeing improvements in service. It threatens to force these fed-up commuters back onto the highways or right out of Connecticut all together.
Another consequence is the economic impact on our shoreline communities.
I recently received a letter from the Newcomers Club of New Canaan signed by the eight past presidents of the club. It says that losing the benefit of affordable, regularly-scheduled trains will reduce the number of families and businesses that choose to make their homes in New Canaan. Reducing or eliminating weekend service will hurt businesses like The Glass House, which reports more than 25 percent of its visitors arrive via Metro-North.
Businesses already are struggling to survive under Connecticut’s harsh economy. The poorly-maintained and congested highways along the shoreline are choking the ability and desire to travel those routes. Further restricting access through higher fares and reduced schedules will pull the noose even tighter.
Legislative Republicans proposed a plan called Prioritize Progress that can start the process of repairing the state’s crumbling infrastructure without tax and fare increases and without schedule reductions. It does not solve all of the state’s transportation problems. There will be no easy or quick fix. However, continuing on the path outlined by the governor and DOT Commissioner Redeker will further deteriorate Connecticut’s economy and send more residents and businesses to other states.
State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, is co-chairman of the legislature’s Transportation Committee. She represents the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.