To the Editor:
Recently, we and several of our Fairfield County Republican colleagues led a petition drive that collected over 1,700 signatures and testified at a public hearing regarding the proposal by the DOT to raise Metro-North and Shoreline East rail fares by 5 percent on Dec. 1, 2016.
We strongly oppose this increase on behalf of our constituents and believe that it is unnecessary. To be clear, this fare hike will NOT be used for improved service or the new M8 cars. In its announcement of the proposed increases, the DOT explicitly noted that this increase was due to an overall $37 million reduction in the agency’s budget. With no change to service or its cost, commuters will pay 5 percent more to fill the hole in the DOT budget after already being hit with a 5 percent fare hike in 2012, 2013, and 2014 as well as 1 percent last year.
We understand that the DOT has presented this increase (Tax) as a result of a deficient budget that was passed and implemented by the Governor and the majority party in Hartford. Therefore, our objections were accompanied by alternative solutions which would cancel this proposed fare hike and provide the revenues needed to fill the gap. We cited tax exemptions for public arenas like the XL Center and Webster Bank Arena as well as eliminating a tax exemption for a single gas company upstate. We also testified to the possibility of corporate sponsorship of railcars. The DOT Commissioner said he was open to this discussion, which offers some hope that they are listening to our concerns.
We are hopeful that the DOT will have the courage to suspend this proposed fare hike and call upon the Governor and Legislature to reevaluate the situation and look to implement the solutions that have been presented.
We want to thank all who took the time to sign our petition, register their concerns, and encourage us to keep up the fight on their behalf.
State Rep. Mike Bocchino
State Rep. Fred Camillo
State Rep. Livvy Floren
State Sen. Scott Frantz