CT DOT may raise Metro-North fares if ridership doesn’t increase, federal funds don’t come through

Regional News

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Department of Transportation officials are trying to figure out a way to keep Metro-North going before much-needed federal funding comes through.

CT DOT Commissioner Joseph Giulietti says they were really optimistic about a ridership bouncing back after Labor Day, but no luck.

On average, they’re seeing 20% of normal ridership riders with only 12% going all the way into New York City. Giulietti says they’re talking with businesses and many do not plan to bring people back into the office until 2021. Even then, many will be working a portion of the week from home.

RELATED: Metro-North ridership slowly coming back, effects of pandemic still keeping numbers low

Metro-North did get CARES Act funding, but how they’re running things is not sustainable. So, Giulietti says they either need more federal money, will slash schedules, or the very last resort is to increase fares.

“Being candid about it that we all want to have lots of services out there and the crews are particularly concerned that if you lower the amount of service, you’re going to increase the amount of people riding on the trains. But the other part of it is that we can’t keep paying for 100 percent of the service when you only have 20% of the ridership out there,” Giulietti.

“If you say to me ‘what happens if there isn’t any federal funding coming in, we don’t have new revenue streams coming in, and your only option is to increase fares or not keep a level of service that provides an opportunity to use the trains for your commuting?’ Then you have to be candidly honest about it. That’s what you would have to do.”

He wants riders to know the air inside the cars changes out every five minutes, conductors are handing out masks, and they are trying to hammer home masks are required. If you don’t wear one you will be fined.

Giulietti also points out Connecticut is not alone on this; New Jersey and Massachusetts are seeing similar issues.

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