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Norwalk Commuters: Train Fare Hike is 'Ridiculous'

NORWALK, Conn. – It costs Yanitza Wilburn only $3 to go from Bridgeport to New Haven on Metro-North Railroad. "Sometimes they don't even take the tickets," she said, frustrated. "In a way, I'm happy. It is a free pass."

She isn't spending much money, so she wasn't concerned to hear that Gov. Dannel Malloy is proposing a 15 percent fare hike on the New Haven Line, part of a long list of possible measures to balance the state budget and eradicate a $1.6 billion deficit. But she knew other people would be upset. "If I was a commuter, like every day, I wouldn't like it," she said.

Indeed, commuters on their way to and from the South Norwalk train station Friday evening had a favorite word for the situation: ridiculous.

"It shouldn't go up — it's ridiculous," said Shayla Jackson, who was going to Bridgeport. "It's already expensive as it is."

"Ridiculous," said Marcella Castro, who was on her way to Grand Central. "Really, it's expensive enough." The attorney lives in New York City and works in Norwalk. Her return peak ticket was $26, which would go up to $29.90 under the proposal. "It will make me think about other options," she said. "Maybe think of driving. But there's a million tolls, and there's traffic."

A woman who commutes to the city had taken the day off but was headed in anyway for the Paul McCartney concert. She said gnats had bothered her on the train last week. "It was really disgusting," she said, adding that the trains are dirty.

"It's too bad there's not a competitor for the MTA because I would surely take it," she said. "The trains are late every day. It's dirty and they're cancelled all the time. I have to stand for 60 minutes and they want me to pay more? It's ridiculous."

Cathy Gorman of Milford was philosophical. "I think it's a lot," she said. "But I guess if you compare it to the gas prices it's not bad. ... Nobody wants to see any increases now on anything, it's just too hard to do anything."

She didn't know the last time the fare had increased. According to Malloy, that was 2005. It "won't be horrible" for Gorman, who works in South Norwalk and makes the short trip to Milford. But she expressed annoyance on the idea of increasing fares for mass transit. Like others, she had a complaint, saying, "The problem is the trains are so crappy."

Do you ride on the New Haven Line? What do you think of a possible increase?

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