Dems Rally Over Rail, Bus Hikes

Some legislative leaders are rallying Wednesday at the New Haven Green to tell Gov. M. Jodi Rell to take a hike on rail and bus fare hikes.

Rell’s two-year budget proposes a 10-percent fare increase on Metro North trains and a 20 to 40 percent bus fare increase in CT Transit and those hikes could generate an additional $45 million to help close a projected $8 billion budget deficit.

But Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and some other lawmakers say these increases will further add to the burdens of poor and working families across Connecticut who depend on bus and rail transportation.

It will also force some rail and bus commuters back onto already congested roads and highways, they say.

"Fare increases are always a last resort, especially in these economic times. But the simple fact of the matter is that both Metro-North and CT Transit are running deficits and the money is needed to keep the Special Transportation Fund balanced," Rich Harris, a spokesman for the governor, told the Hartford Courant.

Lawmakers have a sort of rolling rally against Rell’s proposals. Tuesday, Democratic leaders rallied at William Backus Hospital in Norwich against the governor's proposed cut in a $1.4 million subsidy for the state's LIFE STAR helicopter program.

A group called Transit for Connecticut sent a letter last week to elected officials, asking them to oppose the governor’s proposal.

The transportation rally is scheduled to start at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday at the corner of Chapel and Temple Streets.

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