Senate Transportation Leaders Oppose Bus and Rail Fare Hikes

September 30, 2011

HARTFORD – State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) and State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) a ranking member on the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, today strongly opposed the Malloy administration’s 4% annual increase in rail and bus fares over the next three years.

“Less than five months after passing the largest tax increase and most expensive budget in state history, the Malloy administration is already demanding more money from our beleaguered commuters to cover expenses that should have been anticipated during the budget setting process,” said Senator McKinney. “Tax hikes, fee hikes and fare hikes will continue until the Governor and Democrat legislature finally confront our problem by shrinking the size and cost of state government.”

The DOT announced today that bus fares will increase 4% on January 1, 2012 and will increase another 4% in 2013 and another 4% in 2014. Rail fares will also increase 4% in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The increase in rail fares is over and above an already scheduled increase of 1.25% in January of 2012 and 1% each year from 2013 until 2018 for New Haven Rail Line commuters to help pay for new M-8 rail cars.

Senator Boucher said, “While I commend the Department of Transportation for not cutting services for those who desperately need them, I am concerned that a fare hike of more than 15% over three years is being instituted during a time of such financial distress. The increase of more than 5% during each of the next three years may seem better than the potential 16% in the first year that was proposed, but this fare hike was not suggested during the normal budget process and was only later threatened as a response to a concession package that was in jeopardy. Once the concession package was accepted this increase should have been taken off the table. After all, these are the same commuters that just received the largest tax increase in Connecticut history.”

Rail fare increases were originally proposed by the Malloy administration as part of its “Plan B Budget” that would have been implemented if SEBAC failed to approve an agreement on union savings. Since the SEBAC agreement was approved, Senator McKinney is questioning why the additional fare increases are being implemented. “The Governor clearly does not have the state’s fiscal house in order if additional revenues are needed to cover state expenses at this time,” he said.

Senator McKinney said a possible motive for fare increases is the tenuous balance of the state’s Special Transportation Fund (STF) in FY 2012. Enacted revenues to the STF are $1,262.5 million while expenditures from the fund are only $600,000 less ($1,261.9 million).

Despite relatively stable revenues in the STF, the Governor and the Democratic controlled legislature still approved a spending package in the STF that was $95.3 million, an 8.2% increase over actual expenditures from the previous fiscal year.