Budget Cuts End Free Ride Program in East Hartford

East Hartford is the only town in the entire Greater Hartford Transit District that provides free rides to anyone who wants one. It's been that way for more than a decade since the program started, but the program is coming to an end thanks to budget cuts.

The free rides will be replaced with a ticket system for passengers.

“Just by moving to the ticket system we receive a discount for moving to that system so $72,000 will be saved by the town of East Hartford," Mayor Marcia Leclerc said.

The ticket system will be put in place starting July 1 and the town will subsidize tickets for people with disabilities to a certain point.

Qualifying riders will be able to purchase 120 rides at a cost of $1.20 per ride, but after that, the price will then jump to $24 for 10 rides.

Robert Granger, an East Hartford resident uses the buses.

“If I ain’t got no money how am I going to get there?" he asked.

Granger said he wants to see the town work something out where the rides could remain free.

East Hartford provides rides all over the region to towns like West Hartford, Bloomfield, Hartford, and Farmington and all of those rides are entirely paid for by East Hartford.

In 2005, the town paid for $31,360 rides at a cost of $62,721. This year, the town has already paid for 117,976 rides, at a cost of $353,928 to local taxpayers. Mayor Leclerc describes this solution, that was approved by the town council, as the best decision for riders and taxpayers.

“Let’s face it, the town of East Hartford is looking to cut back all of the expenses it can,” she said.

Rides within the town will continue to be free for ADA customers.

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