More money is coming to Connecticut to help improve our public transit.
This is an entirely separate batch of funding from the federal infrastructure bill. This is emergency relief funding from the Coronavirus Response and Rescue Plan Act.
Connecticut, New York and New Jersey were given about $14 billion to split. After a few months of negotiations, this is the breakdown:
- $10.85 billion to New York
- $2.66 billion to New Jersey
- $474 million to Connecticut
Gov. Ned Lamont said this is great news for the region.
In a statement he said the money will "support the recovery of our states’ public transportation systems that suffered tremendous financial losses resulting from the pandemic."
Garret Eucalitto, the deputy commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, sat down with NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran to discuss where the money will go.
Dan: "Garrett, thanks for taking some time to talk with us about this new funding. First of all, how was the breakdown for the monetary amounts between the states decided? Did Connecticut get what it wanted?"
Eucalitto: "Yes, we did, actually. So this is a traditional process that has occurred every year, for the past couple dozen decades where Federal Transit Administration funds would be split among states via a formula. So Connecticut's position was we did not want to change that formula, we wanted the formula to remain the same, to ensure that we received our fair share of funding."
Dan: "Digging a little deeper into this money, where will all of it go? is this just for rails, or will buses and other forms of transit get some too?"
Eucalitto: "So it's going to be used to support CTtransit, local transit districts in Connecticut, as well as Metro-North services, in shoreline services, the operations as well as any capital needs on those systems, if they need to make repairs, do some more intensive cleaning, it can be used for that, too."
Dan: "What is the big picture goal of the DOT and the state to spend this money? it's a lot of money./;
Eucalitto: "It is and what we've been trying to do is be really responsible fiscal stewards. So we did receive some previous funding under the Cares Act. What at the outset of the pandemic, and what we've been trying to do is ensure that this is being used as a gap filler. So as we saw transit ridership drop, we didn't want to have to go back to the legislature to ask for additional funds to continue to run service. So these funds have been plugging that hole, which the hole is getting smaller every month because ridership is returning. But this will allow us to continue to operate services at the at the levels that we think is appropriate based on ridership, without having to ask for increased funding from the governor and the legislature."
Dan: "Why is this money so important? How will this impact Connecticut commuters?"
Eucalitto: "Well, if this money hadn't come through, we would have had to radically ratchet back service on our rail system, as well as our bus systems across the state, which would have severely impacted daily commutes for hundreds of thousands of residents who rely on public transit every single day. So it's gonna allow us to continue to make those investments to keep running the services that people need to get to work, to get to the hospital to get to the doctors to get to school, and to go visit family members. So it really is a lifeline. And we know you saw that during Covid.