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Higher Train Fares Hit Fairfield County in 2012

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – If you’re traveling on Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line after Sunday, you can expect a potentially unwelcome change at the ticket booth. The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s new fares for the train line go into effect Jan. 1.

The cost of a trip on the rails will go up 5 percent on New Year's Day.

“This modest fare increase is the first in seven years,” Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker said in a statement. “During that time, operating expenses grew by 12 percent due to inflation. While it is never easy to raise fares in economic times such as these, the alternative would have been more difficult for Connecticut commuters.”

The total increase effective Jan. 1 will be about 5.3 percent. New Haven Line fares will increase 4 percent each year over the next three years. The price hike for 2012 will also include an extra 1.25 percent added to help pay for the new M-8 rail cars being added to the New Haven Line.

For example, monthly passes from any of the Fairfield and Westport stations to Grand Central Terminal will jump from $308 to $325. Monthly tickets from Greenwich to New York will increase from $237 to $250.

The Department of Transportation will also increase fares on the Shore Line East train line and its CTTRANSIT buses. Ticket costs on Shore Line East trains will increase the same as on the New Haven Line. The state-run bus service will add five cents to each single-ride ticket.

“The new fare structure is reasonable and will more evenly share operating costs between our passengers and taxpayers,” Redeker said.

The state first floated ideas of higher train fares over the summer. After a series of public hearings, it announced the increased rates in October. At the time, Fairfield commuter Michael Fox said he understood the state’s position and was willing to pay the increase.

“I do know that the state’s hurting for cash, so sometimes you have to do what you have to do,” Fox said. “But I’d rather see them tax visitors more so than tax residents.”

But other commuters, like Greenwich’s Maurice Jones, were less forgiving. “I do weekly and monthly [fare packages] and I mean, I’ll have to just pay it,” said Jones. “The economy is hard right now. I just don’t understand why they’d increase the fares.”

The changes have already gone into effect for monthly passes good through January. Daily and weekly fees will rise for tickets purchased Sunday or later. To see the full slate of new fares, visit the Metro-North website .

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