Statement to the CT Public Transportation Commission, May 19, 2009

May 20, 2009

State Senator Toni Boucher, Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee

I would like to thank the CT Public Transportation Commission for providing residents and commuters with an opportunity to share our thoughts regarding the need for efficient and convenient mass transportation in Fairfield County.

As the State Senate’s Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, I am very interested in learning more about the views expressed at this public forum. I would also like to take the liberty of making just a few brief comments.

As many of you know, I am a long-time advocate of updating and expanding our train service and train stations, dating back to my years on my local Board of Selectmen and, later, in the State House. Despite the tough times we are living through, we must continue to plan for and fund necessary improvements and upgrades. Not only is this a good investment, there is an economic imperative to do so. As our economy is revived, Connecticut needs to be prepared to take advantage of the new opportunities that will come our way.

That means knowing if – and where – light rail would be feasible. It means newer, faster trains; better, more convenient schedules; modern rail stations with adequate parking; and good bus service. The benefits are clear. An integrated multi- modal transportation system will encourage hubs of business, retail and residential development. We will also alleviate highway traffic by encouraging more commuters to use the trains, help our environment by making more efficient use of energy, and make our state more attractive.

No public hearing on transportation would be complete without addressing the subject of the reintroduction of tolls. I believe a cautious approach is prudent. Several public hearings on this subject have shown the complexity of this proposal. Great concern has been expressed that highway drivers would take detours through nearby towns in order to avoid paying tolls, on roads that are already too congested. That would benefit no one, and would cause a great deal of harm to municipalities that are not equipped to handle the increased traffic. There is also the possible loss of federal funds and the impact on Connecticut’s economy and mass transit to consider. The preponderance of public feedback has led me to request a study on the legal and financial implications of such a course of action.

I look forward to putting some of the suggestions presented this evening into action as we work to improve mass transportation in our state.

Again, thank you for holding this public forum. If there are any questions and concerns you would like to share directly, I can be reached at my legislative office at 1-800-842-1421, or via e-mail to [email protected].