State Representative Mike Bocchino (R-150) joined fellow Republican legislators at a public hearing to voice their opposition against Metro-North and Shoreline East’s proposed 5% fare increase on Wednesday, September 14.
“Rather than receiving service improvements in return for this increase, commuters are being forced to pay for gaps in the state budget that was passed by the legislative majority this spring,” said Rep. Bocchino. “Because many commuters have no alternative to taking the train, they are essentially hostages to these increases, and the cumulative impact on their household budgets is significant.”
The fare increase, which is scheduled to take effect on December 1st, 2016, will be just one of many rate hikes implemented since 2011. Although new rail cars are being added to the fleet, revenue generated from this 5% increase will not be allocated for capital investment, but rather to compensate for a shortfall in the state budget.
“Our constituents are already faced with an unusually high cost of living here in Connecticut, and this proposal will only add to their growing financial obligations,” added Rep. Bocchino. “They will eventually ask what they are getting in return for their contributions to this state, and to be honest, it will be difficult for us to give them a good answer. This is not sustainable.”
Rep. Bocchino and his colleagues provided evidence to support their position on the issue and also provided alternatives for the rail lines that would avoid placing the burden on commuters. Alternatives included eliminating tax exemptions for ticket sales at various recreational events and on the gross earnings of gas companies.
Over the past few weeks, several Republican state representatives, including Bocchino, rode the Metro-North line collecting signatures from passengers who share their frustrations with the proposal. With more than 1,700 signatures collected, the representatives felt there was substantial dissent among their constituencies to fight the issue in a public forum, especially on behalf of those who were unable to attend due to their lengthy commutes.