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Malloy's Budget Plan Calls for 15% Metro-North Fare Hike

The increase would be the first on the New Haven Line since 2005.

Deep inside a sweeping balanced budget proposal unveiled Friday by Gov. Dannel Malloy is some potentially unwelcome news for area commuters: a fare hike.

The proposal, which is subject to approval by the Connecticut General Assembly, would raise Metro-North fares on the Connecticut section of the New Haven Line by 15 percent.

Between that increase and a 14 percent hike proposed for Shoreline East, the plan estimates savings of $14,954,666 for FY 2012 and $22,709,500 for FY 2013.

Neither set of fares has been raised since 2005, the proposal notes.

Jim Cameron, chairman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, said Friday that he hopes the hike "is really being used as leverage to try and get the unions back at the table to agree on concessions."

"This is not the first time that Gov. Malloy or before him Gov. [M. Jodi] Rell have cried fire in a crowded theater and tried to get the commuters to grab the extinguishers," Cameron said. "So I'm not worried that this 15 percent fare increase would go through at this point."

According to Cameron, any fare increase would be subject to a public hearing process, which would take a minimum of 90 days.

Full disclosure: Cameron writes a weekly column for Patch.

sebastian dangerfield July 16, 2011 at 12:05 AM
rell though actually wanted to achieve something. Malloy just wants to help the unions. This way-Im sure he reasons, he wont have to lay most of them off. I still would love to find someone to take the other side of a bet that says he will never lay off anywhere near what he has said. Malloy said he would lay off 6500-7500 union workers (publicly). I would imagine he told the union bosses-that he needs to say this--but they need have no fear---he will just add more expense to the fairfield county crowd.
max July 16, 2011 at 12:04 PM
What about charging Bombardier some fines for their failures on the M-8 project. If properly assessed that would add up to millions of dollars.
Concerned Mom July 16, 2011 at 12:26 PM
At the end of the day, Malloy is beholden to the unions that put him in office. He will squeeze Fairfield County right onto the NJ Transit Lines since Christie has the backbone needed to get his house in order.
Jim Cameron July 16, 2011 at 03:22 PM
Max... Bombardier had nothing to do with the M8 project. It's Kawasaki that's a year plus late in deliveries. They will pay millions in penalties, probably taken as "free" cars and parts at the end of the 380 car order. Money for capital expenditures cannot be used to subsidize operating costs.
Jim Cameron July 16, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Debra... If Metro-North were privatized fares would go up 25% at a minimum, because that (25%) is how much fares are already subsidized. If there was a market for a private railroad, the New Haven and Penn Central would still be in business.
John Sini July 16, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Jim, that's not reallya fair assessment without deeper anlaysis. One could imagine a non-unionized or union-light work force on a privately run rail system. I gather other effciencies could also be easily realized (think the replacement of the Waterbury Branch service with bus service, the elimination of unnecessary MTA excessive overhead, etc.) taking that figure lower.
Jim Coley July 16, 2011 at 08:53 PM
I agree with John. Plus, private enterprise would be willing to look to raise additional revenue through innovative business practices. For example, one could imagine a 2 or 3 class system where first class had more comfortable seats (lounge) and perhaps service at night. I'm sure their is a subsection of commuters that would pay more to have also say a guaranteed seat. Finally, non-union labor with relaxed work rules would make the trains much more efficient. I be willing to bet private enterprise would run it at a lower net cost to the average consumer.
Jim Cameron July 17, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Like so many thing that "seem" to have an easy answer, privatization of our commuter rails isn't that simple. My biggest argument against its potential is... it hasn't happened yet! If there was really a market for privatization, someone would have done it by now. There are a lot of smart people in the rail biz, but none of them are stupid enough to try to make a profit by moving people.
sebastian dangerfield July 17, 2011 at 07:24 AM
Jim, I believe that the Boston metro rail is a public private partnership. I have heard lots of good things in the financial aspect of the project as well as riders virews of service. When ticket takers on metro north get 100k a year, and retire earlier than most in the private sector, the idea of the railroads being "subsidized" is only partially correct. If these guys didn't have politicians negotiating sweetheart deals, then the govt. Wouldn't have to subsidize. If bolt Bus can get me from point a to point b for a couple of bucks, then packed commuter trains at all hours, can get me from point a to b for more than a couple of bucks. Just like all things with govt these days, it's not a revenue problem...it's an expense problem. 100,000 a year is more than university professors. It has to stop.
Jim Cameron July 17, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Luca... The MBTA commuter trains are NOT run by a "private public partnership". They used to be run by Amtrak, but the operating agency is now a combo made up of rail car manufacturer Bombardier and a bus company. The MBTA's own report card shows them achieving dismal ratings compared to our MTA: http://mbta.com/about_the_mbta/scorecard/
Jim Cameron July 17, 2011 at 04:08 PM
Barriers to entry? The state of Illinois sold a crucial skyway to Indiana to a foreign firm. NJ almost privatized the NJ Turnpike. Make Malloy an offer... he'd go for it.
max July 17, 2011 at 05:00 PM
Privatization always leads to higher prices for consumers. Always.
William sherman August 24, 2011 at 05:46 PM
CT is already being tagged by the media as one of the only states to raise taxes and is not a business friendly state.That is a fact. Yes the Kawasaki cars are late, but again it is manufacturing done in another country. On the other hand, what company would , if they could, want to build the cars in CT and pay the excessive union costs.Probably the only thing we are making in CT are the exit signs. Also I am sure the "reported" 20 million in tax breaks that we paid to keep UBS will come out of our pockets.That amount didn't do anything to help UBS employees. On top of that the Times reported today that UBS will be cutting jobs anyway! The reverse commuters (NY to Stamford) will be paying higher fares and already are paying higher CT income taxes because they earn money, but do they spend here? Malloy and your fellow democratic legislators, wake up. You are sinking the ship.
Jim Cameron August 24, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Walter... All but 36 of the 405 car order for new M8s will be built in Lincoln Nebraska. Everybody was welcome to bid on those cars (including CT companies) but only Bombardier and Kawasaki did so.
sebastian dangerfield August 25, 2011 at 02:38 AM
"will be built". 1) How many Ct companies would be qualified to build a train car. 2) I think in 2002 these cars were intended to be on the tracks by 2008. IN 2005 it became 2009. In 2009 I think it became 2011. In august 2011 they are being built. Speaking of Democrats--this is why they want bigger government. So incredibly efficient. And with respect to Malloyand the 20 mio dollar tax incentive.....where are the Democrats now talking about "tax breaks for the rich bankers?" Are these tax breaks only anathema when doled out by Republicans? Im thinking that we wont hear any objection. It's a strange country we live in. Guantanamo was a problem --until Obama said it was ok. Wars were wrong--until Obama enlisted our military without congressional approval to engage Libya. For that matter, integrity and following rules (phone taps for example) were categorically wrong, until Obama skirted congress, and heightened his ability to ...tap phones. Here we have tax breaks for 'the rich." Who is the first Democrat to register some outrage? Anyone?? Is it ever the issue? Or is it just a cheerleading squad?
William sherman August 26, 2011 at 10:17 PM
I don't know who Cameron is, but CT used to build WW2 airplanes, make guns, and was known as a manufacturing state. It would seem with this type of history, they could get some investment to build a train car! Obviously however, as I noted before, the cost, and then the skills to do that have left the state over the years. So now we are left with an over taxed public, because in part we do not make anything. We do however support a rather large unionized public service work force, who probably leave the state when they get their pensions. It really is a sad situation when this great state has become known as a very expensive place to live, and not business friendly. We need to do more with less so we don't have to scare away companies and potential residents because of our cost of living. Speaking of living, don't die here, it will cost your family their inheritance.If you have anything left to leave !

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