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Lawmakers Rip Proposed Rate Hike For Conn. Rail Riders

Connecticut officials are criticizing a proposed fare increase by Metro-North Railroad.
Connecticut officials are criticizing a proposed fare increase by Metro-North Railroad. Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- After reports that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will seek a fare increase from Connecticut's Metro-North Railroad commuters next year, Gov. Dannel Malloy is questioning the timing and the need for a hike in prices while other lawmakers blasted the plan.

Malloy expressed his concern Thursday, Aug. 14, in a letter to MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. The governor challenged the plan to increase fares, citing a financial plan released last week by the MTA that shows the quasi-public transportation agency has already incurred substantial cost savings to date.

“Our approved budget is predicated on no new fare increase in the state of Connecticut," Malloy said in a statement. "It should go without saying that Connecticut expects Metro-North to control expenses and to live within the adopted budget for 2015.

“In the financial plan released last week, the MTA touts significant expense savings but calls for fare increases in 2015 and 2017 that could impact the New Haven Line. Those points don’t seem to add up. I would like a full accounting of Connecticut’s share of the proposed savings that were reported in the budget plan.”

Malloy asked the MTA to provide the requested information to Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James Redeker as soon as possible.

“I join Gov. Malloy in strongly urging that there be no new fare increase, which would be both anti-consumer and anti-commuter – and harmful to economic growth and ultimately the railroad itself," U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a statement.

"A new fare increase would be unfair and unnecessary, and better measures are available to fund safety and reliability upgrades and improvements. For Connecticut commuters to bear the brunt of subsidizing and providing service for out-of-state railroad and transit users on the busiest transportation corridor in the United States is profoundly unjust and unwarranted. I will continue to fight for increased federal funding to fill financial gaps and needs in our nation’s railroads.”

State Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk-Darien, also spoke out about the possible fare increase next year.

“Between power outages, service disruptions and delays, Metro-North commuters have dealt with a lot over the past year. Now is not the time for the MTA to be talking about a rate increase for passengers," Duff said in a statement.

"Their focus must be on improving reliability of the New Haven Line, first and foremost. The MTA’s own financial plan from just last week cites significant expense savings. Those savings should be passed along to consumers or reinvested in the railroad’s infrastructure. There is no need for a fare hike, and the MTA should reconsider their proposal.”

Read the full letter from Malloy to the MTA here .

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