HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell today announced that she has directed state Department of Transportation Commissioner Jeffrey A. Parker to tell the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – the operator of the Metro-North commuter railroad – that Connecticut is ardently opposed to its plans to eliminate discounts for mail- and Internet-based ticket purchases and other changes related to validity periods and redemption fees.
The MTA plans public hearings in Connecticut on Wednesday and Thursday on proposals that would eliminate the current 4 percent discount on tickets purchased by mail and 5 percent discount on “WebTickets” while making 10-trip tickets valid for just three months rather than the current 12 months.
Other changes would make single-trip tickets valid for one week rather than 30 days and introduce a $15 fee to redeem any valid, unused ticket.
“Since taking office six years ago, and in cooperation with federal, state and local partners, I have made unprecedented investments in Connecticut’s public transportation system,” Rell said. “One of our primary goals throughout this process has been to encourage ever greater use of mass transit by improving the service and customer experience while maintaining affordable and attractive fares. These proposals will have the effect of turning away passengers at the very time we are doing our best to make public transportation options more attractive.
“I ask that you and your Department make this position clear to the MTA: Connecticut cannot and will not support the elimination of discounts on mail- and web-based ticket sales and changes related to the validity periods and redemption fees for Connecticut riders,” Rell said in a letter to Commissioner Parker. “Eliminating a discount has the same effect as a fare increase. The price paid by the commuter will go up – it is as plain and simple as that.”
Connecticut officials must agree to fare increases – and Governor Rell refused to do so earlier this year when MTA proposed to increase fares on the New Haven Line. However, Connecticut cannot unilaterally reject administrative changes such as the current MTA proposals. MTA will make a final decision after hearing from Connecticut officials and the public.
“While I recognize that the Department cannot ‘veto’ policy changes on such things as validity periods and redemption fees, we can make it clear we do not support these proposed changes,” Rell said. “The changes proposed by the MTA are, simply stated, inconsistent with everything we have tried to accomplish in the public transportation arena and should not be permitted to move forward.”
The public hearings in Connecticut are scheduled for:
Wednesday, September 29, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Gen Re Auditorium on the Stamford campus of the University of Connecticut, 1 University Place, Stamford
- Thursday, September 30, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the DOT Office of Rail Operations, Union Station, 4th Floor West, 50 Union Avenue, New Haven