NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — If you take public transportation, you may soon be paying more for your train and bus tickets. Thursday night was the public’s last chance to speak out against the Department of Transportation’s proposed fare hikes. The DOT held public hearings in New Haven.
If the fare hikes go into effect, commuters who take Metro-North would pay 5% more for their tickets. That would bump the cost of a monthly pass from Union Station in New Haven to Grand Central Terminal in New York to almost $500.
Dawn Bliesener lives in New Haven and takes the bus to get where she needs to go. If the DOT’s proposed fare hikes go into effect, her tickets will cost more. The price of a one way ticket will go up a quarter.
“I know what a financial impact this will be to all of us,” she said. “I know it seems like a pittance to these people, but it isn’t.”
The people at the meeting weren’t the only ones who spoke out against the proposed fare hikes. The organization New Haven Climate Movement put inflatable aliens with signs outside the meeting to get people’s attention.
“More greenhouse gases and more climate pollution creates an alien planet,” said organizer Sarah Ganong.
The group was protesting the higher costs of public transportation – for the environment and for the people who use it.
“It’s kind of ridiculous to expect people who are already unable to pay for buses and trains to continue shouldering the burden when the government should be supporting those services,” said Ganong.
The DOT has a multi-million dollar hole in its budget. It’s considering raising fares for commuters who use the New Haven, New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury lines as well as Shore Line East. The agency is open to other options besides raising ticket prices, but says its other main option will also be hard on commuters.
“We did not want to remove service for people because then they’re really disconnected, so this is one of the last resort type mechanisms for us,” said Jim Redeker, DOT Commissioner.
The DOT will listen to people’s feedback and then decide whether or not to go forward with the proposed fare hikes. The agency held several public hearings all over the state. It now has to decide whether or not fares will go up in early December.
“I hope that they are legitimately and honestly and fairly going to take a look at the people who ride and really do us some justice,” said Bliesener.
If you missed the meetings you can still email the DOT at email@example.com by midnight Thursday.
Wilton State Representative Gail Lavielle is also circulating a petition against the proposed fare increases here.