Commuters opposed to rail fare hikes may sign petition

Metro-North commuters, including those on the Danbury branch line and Shoreline East trains, may sign a petition opposing the proposed 5% fare increase scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1. For Metro-North commuters, the fare hike would be combined with a previously scheduled 1% increase, making the increase 6% in total.

The petition is being circulated by Republican lawmakers. The state Department of Transportation, which announced the fare hike in late July, said it expects the increase will generate $5.9 million. The DOT’s budget was cut by $37 million as part of the 2016-2017 revised state budget.  

“I will not let this go forward without a fight,” Wilton state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) said in a press release. “Commuters are not getting any improvement in their transit service in return for this increase. Instead, they’re being forced to pay for problems created by irresponsible management of the state budget. Metro-North passengers in particular already had to swallow 5% increases in 2012, 2013, and 2014, and 1% increases in 2015 and 2016. Because many commuters have no alternative for getting to work, they are hostages to these increases, and this is a hard hit to their household budgets. This isn’t right, and it isn’t fair.

“It’s not enough, however, just to protest. That’s why I am working together with several other members of my caucus to go the extra distance to help commuters voice their concerns and to propose other feasible ways for the state to address its budget issues that will not impose yet another unfair sacrifice on hardworking people who must use the trains every day,” she added.

Lavielle said she and some of her colleagues will be riding the trains over the coming days to collect signatures from concerned commuters. The petition is also accessible online at nofareincrease.com.

Public hearings on the increase will take place this month and Lavielle said she plans to attend at least one and present the petition, along with a letter to DOT Commissioner James Redeker, the governor, and legislative leaders proposing alternative budgetary solutions for avoiding the fare increase.

The nearest public hearing is Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 4 to 6 and then 7 to 9 p.m. at the University of Connecticut Stamford campus. A complete list of hearing locations is at http://bit.ly/2bIc1UE.

The DOT is also accepting public comment by email through Sept. 15 at [email protected].

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