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Commuters Slam Proposed Fare Hikes in Norwalk

NORWALK, Conn. — Fairfield County residents protested proposed New Haven Line rail fare increases and CTTransit bus service cuts at two public hearings in Stamford on Tuesday evening.

Sheila Williams Brown, a Stamford resident and bus driver, argued a sentiment echoed by others: to reduce service, you would have to first be providing a service.

“If you have ridden a bus, you know that bus is crowded,” said Brown. “What you are saying is you want each bus to be overcrowded to the point where they will be unsafe. … People are standing, where do you want them to go? You need to see what is happening.”

Rick Roseman, a Connecticut resident for 13 years, described the trains as “deplorable.” Tim Beeble, a Bethel resident, said that if fares were increased, riders would give up on the rails. “When gasoline prices rose, ridership increased,” Beeble said. “When gasoline prices fell, so did ridership. … An increase in rail fares is going to push riders back into their cars.”

Gov. Dannel Malloy introduced the proposed fare hikes as part of state budget cuts. New Haven Line fares have not been raised since 2005.

Under the plan, Metro-North New Haven Line tickets would increase by 16.4 percent. Commuters from South Norwalk or East Norwalk to New York City would face a ticket price increase from $284 per month to $331 per month. Weekly commuters would see a price raise from $91 to $106. For commuters from Merrit 7, Wilton and Cannondale, the monthly ticket would go from $292 to $341 and the weekly ticket from $93 to $109. For a full list, see the Department of Transportation’s website .

Ryan Lynch, senior planner and Connecticut coordinator for a nonprofit transportation policy organization called the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said ridership is up 3 percent from last year and Metro-North ridership is up 2.7 percent.

“Cutting bus service and raising fares is a primes example of transportation inequity,” said Lynch. “This is particularly true in Connecticut where bus riders make less than half of those who drive to work alone.”

The base local bus fare is proposed to increase from $1.25 to $1.35; senior and disabled fare would increase from 60 cents to 65 cents; and paratransit fares would increase from $2.50 to $2.70.

The transportation department created a website to allow comments to be submitted and to provide further information, including other public hearing dates. The final date for comments is Sept. 15.

What do you think of the fare hikes and service cutbacks in your area? Comment below or email ahelhoski@mainstreetconnect.us.

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