Senator McKinney Blasts Metro-North Increase

April 30, 2004

Budget bill allows for 5.5% increase in fares

State Senator John McKinney, R-Fairfield, today voted against a $14.3 billion adjusted budget bill that includes a 5.5% fare hike for Metro-North commuters. The bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 25-9, is troubling to Sen. McKinney because of the lack of concern it gives towards Fairfield County Commuters. Calling it “a defeat for Fairfield commuters,” Sen. McKinney offered an amendment to prevent a Metro-North increase but the measure failed along party lines.

“The amendment I offered today would have ensured thousands of commuters in my district and throughout Fairfield County would not have to suffer another fare increase,” said Sen. McKinney. “This budget process gave us an opportunity to address what should be one of the state’s biggest priorities: transportation. Unfortunately, there are still many people in Hartford who do not believe that transportation congestion is a problem in Fairfield County.”

Sen. McKinney said that the adopted budget adds approximately $261 million to last year’s biennial budget. Because the special transportation account currently has a $14 million surplus, preventing a fare increase would have no impact on the budget.

“It’s all very ironic. The people who take the train to work are doing exactly what we want them to do. They are getting out their cars, which make our roads less congested and safer and our air cleaner, and this is how we thank them with yet another fare increase? It’s outrageous and unacceptable,” said Sen. McKinney.

Sen. McKinney, who was influential in the state’s recent purchase of 20 new rail cars, said improvements to Metro-North must become a priority. “I understand that many people in other parts of the state do not realize the severity of the transportation problems occurring in Fairfield County,” said Sen. McKinney. “Metro-North commuters are herded like cattle and must endure the worst service, the worst conditions of any rail line in the country and it continues to get worse every year. The fare increase is a slap in the face to the commuters of our state.”