MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — Middletown Area Transit (MAT) plans to cut back some bus services because of budget issues. Many residents rely on public transportation and are not happy.
Those impacted include the disabled, working families and senior citizens. MAT is looking to cut two routes as well as its night owl service.
“They cut that run which means now if I want to do something or go someplace I can’t go,” said Mary Ann Lawrence, who uses the bus service. “I’m stuck in the house, no way to get around.”
Many who ride the bus gathered for a rally outside MAT on Wednesday afternoon, along with state and local leaders.
Later on, they spoke out at a meeting for the public to give MAT input on the cuts. The room was so full people were standing. They also heard from MAT.
“That this was not an easy decision to make,” said MAT administrator Andy Chiaravallo. “Where we are now, and we don’t want to throw stones, but the bottom line is dollars.”
Those cuts will go into effect on July 1 if MAT doesn’t get more funding. It gets funding from the city, the state, plus federal funding; however, it is a separate corporate organization. State and local leaders have been meeting with MAT administrators to try to figure out what to do.
“The challenge for us is figuring out how we can help because we don’t have the ability to step in and say you’re doing this and you’re doing this,” said Middletown Mayor Dan Drew.
MAT says it lost needed funding from the Department of Transportation and that it is proposing these cuts so it does not have to cut all its services. However, riders say even if it just cuts those routes it will make their lives harder.
“A lot of people are going to be out of work. We’re going to have more people on welfare,” said Lawrence. “We’re going to have more people robbing. You’re going to have more people going hungry.”
Drew says he typically signs a contract with MAT at the beginning of the fiscal year. He is not signing it – and is withholding the city subsidy – until he is sure MAT has a good plan to move forward.