The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently announced fare increases to Metro-North lines in New York. The increases are effective Sunday, Aug. 20, but these changes will not affect Metro-North prices in Connecticut — at least not for now.
Price hikes in New York do not dictate what happens in Connecticut, said state Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson Josh Morgan. But Jim Cameron, a local public transportation advocate, said historically, Connecticut has followed the MTA’s lead on fares.
“The fare increase seems inevitable,” Cameron said. “It has been several years since we have had one, and, the pace has been set by the MTA in New York.”
Any fare increase in Connecticut would be dependent on a Service and Fare Equity analysis and an annual public hearing hosted by the DOT to assess if a change should be made, Morgan said. He said the service and fare equity analysis makes sure that there’s no disparate impacts on particular communities or individuals.
“It’s a federal requirement that we have to do as part of the Civil Rights Act,” Morgan said. “So this is something that wouldn’t happen with the snap of a finger overnight.”
But Cameron thinks these hearings are ineffective.
“I’ve characterized these hearings in the past as political theater because they are seeking public comment, but I can anticipate what the public comment is going to be, and it’s basically going to have no effect on the decision,” Cameron said.
Morgan said the DOT doesn’t “hold hearings for the sake of holding hearings” and that the agency wants to “work with stakeholders, and we want to have the best projects and the best transportation system possible.”
Morgan also addressed anticipated service cuts to the New Haven and Shore Line East Metro-North lines. These cuts were reportedly in response to a decrease in ridership since the pandemic. Decisions on service cuts have also not yet been made.
“Train scheduling is complex when you have multiple operators,” Morgan said. “When you have multiple trains occupying limited space it’s not as simple as saying, ‘Oh, just take this train off and put this train on.’ Because if you bring one train down, you have to make sure that there’s a train to bring people back.”
A date on when these service changes could go into effect has not been announced.
If fare prices change, Morgan said it would most likely happen in October, after a hearing in September.