Commuters on the Metro North railroad. CTMirror File Photo
Commuters on the Metro North railroad. CTMirror File Photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has canceled planned rail and bus fare hikes now that legislators have adopted a new budget with added resources for the Special Transportation Fund.

The governor and Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker announced that a 10 percent fare hike for rail passengers and a 14 percent increase for bus riders have been dropped.

“My administration worked tirelessly this legislative session to ensure adequate funding to keep the Special Transportation Fund solvent in the short term,” Malloy said. “I am relieved that we were able to avoid drastic fare increases and disruptive service reductions.”

“This is great news for Connecticut commuters and I commend the General Assembly for passing a budget that maintains full funding for public transportation and the Department of Transportation in general – at least in the near term,”  Redeker added.

The new budget transfers an extra $29 million in sales tax receipts next fiscal year to the Special Transportation Fund. It does not establish tolls on state highways.

In addition, the state would issue $250 million in General Obligation (GO) Bonds next fiscal year to complement another $750 million in Special Tax Obligation (STO) Bonds, all to support transportation infrastructure work.

While STO bonds are the traditional workhouse of the Special Transportation Fund, paid off with fuel tax receipts and other revenues assigned to the transportation program, GO bonds are paid off out of the General Fund — which pays for the bulk of state programs and services.

But the governor also warned Connecticut still has not stabilized its transportation program over the long haul.

“If we want to make the necessary investments to keep our transportation infrastructure in a state of good repair in future years, the state will need to find new, long-term funding sources to replace dwindling gas tax revenues,” the governor said. “This should not be seen as optional — it’s critical to Connecticut’s future.”

The administration has warned that billions of dollars in highway, bridge and rail projects planned for the coming years would be in jeopardy without a major new source of revenue.

Many legislators have said they expect the legislature will have to revisit next year the question of whether to install electronic tolls on state highways.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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