FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — When Fairfield County commuters were looking at a choice of higher fares for trains and buses or cuts in service, the unpopular higher fares won out.
The previously announced fare hikes have been approved and will take effect in December, DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker announced Monday.
The train fare increase will be 6 percent, which includes a previously approved 1 percent hike, and bus fares will rise from $1.50 per ride to $1.75, or 16.7 percent for CTTransit.
“As we looked to meet our budget requirements, our primary goal was to maintain all existing bus and rail service statewide for the thousands of people who depend on them every day,” said Redeker. “Combined with other steps to reduce expenses, this fare increase allows us to meet that goal.”
Six public hearings were held around the state — including one at UConn-Stamford — on the proposed increases. Nearly 400 people commented on the proposed fares, DOT said in a statement.
"While some opposed a fare increase of any kind, there were no recommendations to cut service," the statement said. At the Stamford meeting, East Norwalk resident Terri Cronin said she rides the train less frequently due to the cost.
State Sen. Toni Boucher, ranking senator on the legislature’s Transportation Committee, blasted the increases.
“This is yet another Connecticut tax hike, yet another burden, and yet another slap in the face to Connecticut commuters," she said. “This Dec. 1 hike is on top of rates which have already been hiked over the last six years."
“Hundreds and hundreds of commuters spoke out against these fare hikes by signing the 'No Fare Increase' petition," she said. “Their voices were ignored. ... People are right to feel that this administration turned a deaf ear and that this decision was pre-determined.
"The public hearing process did not work. The DOT was just going through the motions," said Boucher, who represents Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton.
The fare hikes announced in August by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will cover $37 million in cuts in the state budget for DOT. Underused ticket windows at the Greenwich, South Norwalk and Bridgeport train stations were also closed due to the budget cuts.
The rail fare increase will apply to Metro-North's New Haven Line and Shore Line East on tickets purchased for travel to or from stations in Connecticut and will take effect Dec. 1.
Also, the current 2 percent discount on “Mail and Ride” tickets will be eliminated. The discount on the combined monthly rail ticket and unlimited-ride MetroCard will be reduced from 4 percent to 2 percent beginning with the purchase of December tickets.
The bus fare increase, effective Dec. 4, will apply to the eight CTTransit service areas, including Stamford, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, Bristol, New Britain, Wallingford and Meriden, as well as to CTFastrak.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.