Gov. Rell Keeps Transit Riders on the Hook for Fare Hikes

Connecticut’s budget continues to frustrate transit advocates. In the latest twist in the protracted process, Gov. Rell has vetoed a bill that would have staved off bus and rail fare increases. This isn’t the first time she’s kept transit riders on the hook. To recap:

The year started off with a bang. In Governor Rell’s first iteration of the budget she proposed to raise bus and rail fares by 40% and 10% respectively.

This led to transit advocates fighting to prevent fare increases and the General Assembly passing a budget that ensured rail and bus funding was sufficient enough to stave off hikes.  That bill was subsequently vetoed by the governor.

The General Assembly was poised to pass another budget with no fare hikes and service cuts, but slashed operating funds by $8 million in the eleventh hour, which would have led to fare hikes or service cuts.  Governor Rell didn’t sign that budget, but allowed it to become law without her signature.

In light of the last minute cuts, Assembly leaders vowed to find a way to fill the operating funds gap during the special “implementer” session held this week.  They did so by voting to increase fees for the Department of Motor Vehicles which, in addition to preventing fare hikes, also would provide a disincentive to drive.

However, as if transit riders hadn’t been hanging in the balance long enough, Governor Rell vetoed the DMV fee increases on Friday.


2 Comments on "Gov. Rell Keeps Transit Riders on the Hook for Fare Hikes"

  1. Lukas Herbert | September 30, 2009 at 3:26 pm |

    To put CT rail fares in perspective, if my wife and I decide to visit friends in Stratford, CT, depending on the day, it may actually be more cost effective to rent a car, fill it with gas and drive it there than it would be for both of us to take Metro North to Stratford round-trip from NYC. While transit fares in NY (and now CT) have gone up in recent years, rental prices at Enterprise Rent-A-Car have stayed flat…and even gone down in certain situations.

    It used to be that higher transit fares or inconvenient service kept people in their cars. Now the situation may become one where higher transit fares and less transit service push non-car owning transit riders into rental cars (for discretionary trips) because rental cars are a better value. I don’t think this is the mobility model that anybody had intended.

  2. Clark Morris | October 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm |

    What is being done to reduce the cost of providing transit? How does the MTA farebox recovery compare with the suburban service of the SBB out of Zurich or the various providers in other major European cities? Do FRA equipment rules make North American operations less cost effective and slower (in particular the body strength rules that add weight to our cars)? Are there better ways of staffing and collecting fares? Would scheduling for and encouraging more suburb/satellite city to suburb/satellite city travel help? How about truly integrating bus and rail both fare and schedule wise?

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