It’s been an interesting week for the transportation scene in Connecticut, with good news and bad. See if you can figure out which is which.
BED BUGS: The ornate waiting room at the New Haven Union Station had to be closed the other day as the Parking Authority undertook a cleaning after bed bugs were discovered. Though it’s a very busy station and any passenger might have brought the critters into the space, it’s the people who are “unhoused” (the new euphemism for homeless) who are the likely source. This is what happens when the city treats a public transit facility as a solution for those lacking access to shelter.
STAMFORD STATION: Like New Haven’s station, the Stamford Transportation Center also has a lot of homeless lingering at all hours. But how do they tolerate the noise from all the construction work? In the 30-plus years I’ve been riding Metro-North, I can’t remember a time when the station was NOT under construction. The latest work is not expected to end until the fall of 2024, more than a year behind schedule. What is moving faster is the new parking structure just west of the station. That should be done by Labor Day… this year.
TWITTER BLINKS: When Twitter told the MTA it would have to pay $50,000 a month to keep access to its code to send tweets to riders about delays, the agency refused, threatening to leave Twitter completely. After less than a week, Twitter reconsidered its demand and will allow the agency continued free access to its millions of users.
BACK FROM THE FISCAL CLIFF: Continued reduced ridership and dwindling Federal bailout money had seen the MTA (parent agency for Metro-North and NYC subways and buses) heading toward what it described as a “fiscal cliff” that might have meant layoffs and service cuts.
But the crisis seems to have been averted as New York Gov. Kathy Hochul reached a deal with lawmakers in Albany to plug the MTA’s $600 million budget gap this year and $1 billion each of the years to come. The can-kicking-solution this time is tax hikes for NYC businesses and a smaller-than-feared subway fare increase to just under $3 a ride. Mind you, the MTA also admits it loses $500 million a year to fare evasion.
THE REVOLVING DOOR: What do you do when you leave a $281,000 a year job as Connecticut Commissioner of Transportation? Why, you become a consultant… again! Former CDOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti has just done it, re-joining the consulting firm TYLin.
You’ll remember that when he last worked for TYLin he did a study proposing “30-30-30” train running times between Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and NYC… an idea endorsed by Gov Lamont that, as commissioner of DOT, Giulietti was never able to deliver on.
But don’t expect Giulietti to be doing any high priced consulting for CDOT, at least not for a while. Under the state’s ethics laws, ex-state employees can’t take any consulting work from their old agency for one year, locking the “revolving door” from state jobs to consulting for your old employer.