WILTON, Conn. -- In an effort to stop a 5 percent fare increase for all Metro-North and Shoreline East trains, State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) is circulating a petition to commuters.
For Metro-North commuters, the fare hike, which would take effect Dec. 1, would be combined with a previously scheduled 1 percent increase, making the increase 6 percent in total.
The proposed fare increase is a direct result of $37 million in cuts imposed on the Connecticut Department of Transportation by the administration as part of the 2016-17 revised state budget passed by legislators last May.
In its announcement of the proposed increase, the DOT said it expected the higher fares to generate $5.9 million.
“I will not let this go forward without a fight,” Lavielle said. “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 five-percent increases in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and one-percent 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."
Lavielle said that's why she is working with several other members of her 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 .
To help rail passengers make their voices heard, Lavielle and her colleagues will be riding the trains in the coming days to collect signatures from concerned commuters.
The petition also is accessible online .
The state has announced public hearings will be conducted this month in six communities, including Stamford, New Haven and Waterbury.
Lavielle will attend at least one of the scheduled public hearings and present the signed petitions on behalf of those Metro-North and Shoreline East commuters opposed to the fare hikes, along with a letter to DOT Commissioner James Redeker, the governor and legislative leaders proposing alternative budgetary solutions for avoiding the fare increase.
The DOT also is accepting public comment via e-mail through Sept. 15 at email@example.com.