HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Beginning on Nov. 1, riding the rails in Connecticut will cost more. For the first time in over five years, fares will increase along the New Haven, Hartford and Shore Line East commuter rail lines.
For frequent riders like Merlin Lima, it will cost more to get home from college.
“I think they’re already enough; $8 is a lot for a one-way train ticket,” Lima said.
“They’re not really thinking about everybody,” Stamford resident Jim Dorisman said.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) finalized a plan to increase fares while cutting 21 trains from service, mainly from Shoreline East. CTDOT is blaming the increase in fares on rising operation costs, including equipment and labor.
Josh Morgan, CTDOT’s spokesperson, said fare increases are happening across the country, and a 4.5% increase puts Connecticut in line with MTA prices in New York.
“It will vary depending on the ticket type,” Morgan said. “It could maybe be a 25-cent increase for a one-way ticket, maybe three or four bucks for a monthly pass.”
CTDOT officials said they received and considered over 170 public comments during numerous public meetings, even changing proposed arrival times to New Haven in the last few weeks.
Morgan said service cuts are inevitable. Metro North’s New Haven line will lose two trains Monday through Thursday and seven on Fridays due to fewer commuters.
The Hartford line will not see any cuts to service.
Shoreline East will take the biggest hit, now with only 16 trains running every day due to low ridership. That’s at 44% percent of what service was pre-pandemic.
“It’s about 33% recovering in terms of ridership compared to where we were before the pandemic hit, so we are providing 44% train service,” Morgan said. “We try to propose something we think is in the best interest of the public and how it’s going to serve them,” Morgan said.
State Sen. Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield), who is a member of the Transportation Committee, said the state is once again forcing commuters to reach deeper into their pockets.
“This is how you kill a railroad. Cut service. Raise fares. Discourage ridership. Then, ridership drops. That scenario then provides more excuses for further cuts. The state is now asking commuters to pay more for less service,” Hwang said.
The new train schedules will all take effect by the end of the year.