The Connecticut Department of Transportation is proposing a 5 percent fare hike for Metro-North and Shoreline East trains as a way to make up for lost state funding.
The DOT is in need of more revenue after state lawmakers slashed transportation funding by $37 million when they refused to raise taxes in their latest budget.
A 5 percent increase only adds about $1.60 to an off-peak, round trip from New Haven to Grand Central on Metro-North’s New Haven line.
Daily riders who rely on the train service to get to work might need to dig deeper into their wallets. The monthly fare from New Haven’s Union Station to Grand Central in New York City would go up $28, costing passengers an extra $336 for a year.
"Commuters understand that there was a cut to transportation however how that cut was to be achieved could have been handled much better," Jim Gildea, chairman of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council, said in an email.
The DOT should have reached out to the council before announcing the proposed fare increase, Gildea added.
In addition to the DOT proposal, which would kick in on Dec. 1, the sixth of seven consecutive 1 percent fare raises to pay for new train cars is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1.
"So much, too much, too much, can't afford it," said Annmarie Hewitt, who takes the train every week from Union Station to Grand Central.
In a letter to leaders of the General Assembly on July 22, Gov. Dannel Mallloy wrote, "These are not decisions anyone takes lightly, but are nevertheless necessary to avoid significant reductions in service."
Ray Ortiz, of Long Island, rides the train in Connecticut a couple times a week to visit family and opposed the proposed fare increase.
"It appears trains are late, they’re not always clean, and cost of living just keeps going higher and higher," Ortiz said. "Difficult to even get to your job with these increases."
Gowan Dishman, en engineer who has worked across the country since the mid-1980s, said more revenue is needed for the DOT to fix failing roads and bridges.
"While it is an onus on many people, without that, we will be facing a lot more critical infrastructure problems in the future," Dishman said.
Dishman is living in Milford while working on the new bridge replacing the Tappan Zee in New York.
"Mass transportation is going to be the way of the future, we can’t keep increasing lane widths on our highways," he said.
The CT Commuter Rail Council is encouraging riders to attend several public hearings with DOT officials in September.
Old Saybrook Town Hall
302 Main St.
Old Saybrook, CT
Tuesday, Sept. 6 – 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hartford Public Library
500 Main St.
Wednesday, Sept. 7 - 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Meriden Town Hall
142 East Main St.
Tuesday Sept. 13 – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Silas Bronson Library
267 Grand St.
Tuesday, Sept. 13 – 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
UCONN Stamford Campus Auditorium
One University Place
Wednesday, Sept. 14 – 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
New Haven Hall of Records, Room G-2
200 Orange St.
New Haven, CT
Thursday, Sept. 15 – 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.