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Opposes MTA Plans To Change Metro-North Ticket Policies

Expresses Opposition In Letter To State DOT Commissioner Jeffrey Parker & MTA Chairman Jay Walder

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26), ranking member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, formally expressed her opposition to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to make changes to Metro North ticket policies that she said would unfairly burden Connecticut commuters.

Senator Boucher formally expressed her disapproval in a letter submitted as testimony to State Department of Transportation Commissioner Jeffrey A. Parker and MTA Chairman Jay Walder. Governor M. Jodi Rell has directed Commissioner Parker to oppose the MTA’s plans to eliminate discounts for mail- and Internet-based ticket purchases and other changes related to validity periods and redemption fees, and asked for the public to be heard on the issue.

In her letter to Chairman Walder and the state DOT Commissioner, Senator Boucher wrote: “All of these changes would make Connecticut taxpayers responsible for closing the MTA’s $800 million deficit, which is properly the responsibility of New York. Though the MTA expects these changes to benefit its finances, it will actually turn Connecticut residents away from mass transit.”

Senator Boucher said that it is both unfair and unreasonable to expect Connecticut taxpayers and commuters to help shoulder the burden of MTA financial problems that are the responsibility of New York.

“Connecticut pays nearly 65% of Metro North expenses on the New Haven Line and has invested a great deal in both effort and money to improving public transportation infrastructure. It will be counterproductive if the MTA imposes policies that discourage commuters from using Metro North, and if the MTA does indeed impose these policy changes, people who ride the trains now will be looking for new ways to get to and from work. Those who have no other choice will have to pay more to ride the trains. In the end, the MTA will create a situation that is not good for Connecticut or New York,” said Senator Boucher.

Among other things, the MTA wants to eliminate the current four percent discount on tickets purchased by mail and five percent discount on “WebTickets” while making 10-trip tickets valid for just three months rather than the current 12 months. Other changes would make single-trip tickets valid for one week rather than 180 days and introduce a $15 fee to redeem any valid, unused ticket.

Please see text of Senator Boucher’s letter to State DOT Commissioner Jeffrey A. Parker and MTA Chairman Walder below:

October 1, 2010

Dear Chairman Walder and Commissioner Parker,

The MTA’s plan to increase revenue and close their deficit unfairly burdens commuters in our state. The proposed changes include eliminating discounts for tickets acquired through the internet and the mail, a new $15 fee required to redeem unused tickets, and the shortening of validity periods. All of these changes would make Connecticut taxpayers responsible for closing the MTA’s $800 million deficit, which is properly the responsibility of New York. Though the MTA expects these changes to benefit its finances, it will actually turn Connecticut residents away from mass transit.

Throughout my time as a legislator, and now as a ranking member on the Transportation Committee, I have worked to promote and expand mass transit in Connecticut, recognizing the potential it holds for business. I also commend the extraordinary efforts of Governor Rell, who has been instrumental in securing funding for public transportation and making many necessary improvements to our infrastructure. Since our state has already invested a great deal of time and money to make public transportation more convenient for its residents, it saddens me to think that the MTA would undertake measures that would ultimately decrease ridership. Neither they nor we would benefit from this result, and many years spent encouraging the use of mass transit among Connecticut residents will have gone to waste.

At a time when families are more sensitive than ever to the demands placed on their finances, the effect of the MTA’s proposals will be the opposite of what they intend. Rather than increase revenue, they will cause our residents to take their money elsewhere, leaving those who chose to remain as customers with higher fares, which they will pay to no purpose. I hope the Department of Transportation will make it clear to the MTA that Connecticut opposes this change in policy, which is both unfair to our taxpayers and contrary to everything we have worked to accomplish.

Sincerely,

Toni Boucher
State Senator