First selectman, fellow leaders appeal to DOT on train service reductions
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson has joined with Mayor David Martin of Stamford and First Selectman Kevin Moynihan of New Canaan in objecting to the suspending of New Canaan branch service on Metro-North.
In a letter dated March 2, signed by all three, to Department of Transportation Commissioner John Redeker, they said “Suspending New Canaan branchline service as proposed by the DOT will have an immediate adverse impact on the economies of our communities.
Rail rates may be hiked in Connecticut by 10% as early as July, and $6.5 million would be cut from planned improvements that would impact Darien as part of Malloy’s threat to cut $4.3 billion from the state’s transportation budget. He outlined the cuts in transportation projects on Jan. 10.
“These changes are contingent on action by the legislature. If they have an adequate plan in place by July 1, nothing should change. The Connecticut DOT does not make recommendations on additional revenues for the General Assembly to act on. It is up to the governor and the legislature to make those recommendations and then implement them,” Connecticut Department of Transportation Director of Communication Judd Everhart said in an email to the New Canaan Advertiser in mid-January.
In addition to the rail hike, the state proposed cuts to off-peak rail service on the New Canaan, Danbury, Waterbury and Shore Line East rail lines.
The town leaders pointed out that “our workforce does not conform to a historic Monday thru Friday work-model and now relies on branch rail service for weekend commuting to work as well.”
“Failure to provide reliable commuter rail service will result in increased traffic congestion during periods when our region already experiences record high traffic volumes,” they said.
They also pointed out that the reduction is proposed during a period “when our home values have stagnated and the rate of home sales have declined” and said the reductions “will exacerbate our housing market challenges.”
“Reliable, safe rail service is a key selling point for many prospective new home buyers,” they said.
In response to fixing the economic condition of the state, they said, the right response is “not to contract and reduce rail service in growth regions of the state.”
“Let’s not enter an endless negative spiral. The answer for our state is that we must grow our way out of the situation we find ourselves in,” they said.
“We must make bold moves and set priorities to stay competitive with cities and towns we compete with in the tri-state region by offering residents the services they need and demand,” they concluded.
The Department of Transportation has not yet responded to request for a response. The DOT recently held public hearings throughout the state on the increase of Metro-North fares.