Riding Metro North could cost substantially more in the near future

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FAIRFIELD --  Get ready to fork over substantially more money if you would like to climb aboard a Metro North train.

The fare hike proposal, set forth by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, includes a 10 percent increase beginning July 1, followed by five percent increases in 2020 and in 2021.

“I think it’s a huge hindrance and, if you have to pay for parking, it’s a lot,” said Alison Palermo if Newtown. “it digs into your paycheck.”

Part of the plan is to also reduce train service. The DOT said this is necessary to make up for the shortfall of money available in the state’s special transportation fund.

“I think the fares are too high, for one, and going up more for less service doesn’t make sense to me,” said Keith Crudgington of Fairfield.

“They’re talking about eliminating all but rush-hour train service on the New Canaan, Danbury, Waterbury and Shoreline East lines, said Jim Cameron, the founder of the Commuter Action Group.

He said reduced service will likely equal reduced property values. His rationale: who wants to move from New York City to Fairfield County if train service is not convenient every day of the week.

Cameron blames the state legislature for putting the special transportation fund in a position to run out of gas by next year

“They been fighting this issue and doing nothing with it actually for years,” he said.

Cameron thinks tolls or a vehicle mileage tax would be good sources of revenue to replenish the the transportation fund. The Co-Chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee said she has a better idea

“They have to take a look at how they’re spending their obligation bonds right now and stop spending it for things that are not essential,” State Senator Toni Boucher (R - Wilton)

Governor Malloy has said for years he favors a transportation fund lock box, which, theoretically, would prevent money from being raided from that account.

“Every time that proposal comes forward, though, someone finds a way to create a way out of it,” Boucher added.

It currently costs Metro North riders at least 18% more than it did in 2012, said Boucher, who added that tacking on another 10% could create even more of an exodus from a state that is losing residents rapidly.

The DOT said next week they will be releasing dates for public hearings on this proposed rate increase but Jim Cameron said those hearings don’t matter. This proposal is a done deal.