Major state funding cuts could mean big changes for bus service in Middletown.
Middletown Area Transit (MAT) is preparing for funding cuts from the state that they say will change how they operate.
“If she can’t take the bus, she cannot get to work."
There are a number of people in the Middletown area who rely on MAT buses to get around, and they’re worried about the proposed service cuts.
Paige Corral is concerned her daughter soon won’t have a way to get to work. She takes two MAT buses to get to her job at the Cromwell Walmart. Her bus route could soon disappear.
“I think they better think about what they can do to help these people,” Corral said.
MAT has recently rolled out the real-world service cuts that could be implemented if its $2.1 million budget is slashed by the state, thanks to a shrinking Special Transportation Fund. Transit administrator Lisa Seymour said the cuts aren’t final, but they’re trying to prepare riders if state lawmakers don’t find a fix.
"This is not on a MAT transit level or the town of Middletown of Middletown level or even at DOT’s level. This is actually at the legislature’s level. So it’s important for the funding to be put back into the STF Fund so we can prevent these cuts from happening,” Seymour said.
Less than a year after MAT was at the brink of shutting down due to internal financial problems, the administrators say the prospect of limited state funds threatening riders is a serious blow they’re trying to work through.
“To now have a funding cut, which is an external source, which is not anything that we can prevent is extremely frustrating for me,” Seymour said.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation said the state’s Special Transportation Fund will be insolvent in a matter of years, so with no foreseeable funding improvement, cuts to smaller transit districts statewide have to happen. But Corral said those cuts shouldn’t involve the buses that are lifelines to so many.
“I understand that it’s a terrible time for us. But you have to think about what the ramifications are for these people,” Corral said.
MAT officials said they will continue to have public hearings as they try to determine what service changes they will make. If this lost funding isn’t restored, the service changes will be implemented in July.