Sen. McKinney Calls for Increased Funding for New Rail Cars

April 2, 2004

State Senator John McKinney, R-Fairfield, is calling upon legislative leaders to double the amount of funding currently being proposed for the purchase of new rail cars for Metro-North Commuter Railroad. Under an amendment offered by Sen. McKinney in the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, an additional $55 million would have been added to the $60 million already proposed by Governor John G. Rowland.

“This is about setting priorities,” said Sen. McKinney. “If we are serious about addressing the transportation problems of lower Fairfield County, then we need to invest in Metro-North, it’s that simple. The Finance Committee has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars in bonding for science labs and community colleges, and while these projects are important they lack the urgency of a deteriorating transportation system.”

Under Sen. McKinney’s amendment, an additional $55 million would go directly towards the purchase of new rail cars and another $5 million would have been used to establish a high-speed ferry service to transport people to and from New York City.

“Metro-North commuters have sacrificed long enough. Aging rail cars have led to numerous delays, cancellations and overcrowded cars,” said Sen. McKinney who pointed out that up to 40% of Metro-North’s rail cars were out of service during one month last winter. “If our priority is get people out of their cars and into different modes of transportation then we must make a significant investment into our commuter rail system.”

Although Sen. McKinney’s amendment was defeated, he said he would continue to press the issue of adding more cars to the Metro-North fleet. “Fairfield County is responsible for approximately 40% of all sales and income tax receipts in Connecticut making the region the engine that drives the state’s economy,” said Sen. McKinney. “Transportation congestion threatens our quality of life, that is why this issue is so important and it’s not going away until conditions improve and reliability is restored.”