Whether you’re a daily commuter, an occasional day-tripper or have friends visiting from out of town, everyone can save money when you go into NYC on Metro-North by following this time-tested advice:…
In recent weeks I’ve been criss-crossing the state talking to folks about our transportation crisis: the proposed fare hikes on trains and buses coupled with service cuts on the branch lines, and the multi-billion dollar spending cuts at the Connecticut Department of Transportation. I call it the “Winter of our discontent” magical misery tour. From Woodbridge to New Canaan, from Old Lyme to West Haven, I’ve talked to crowds large and small, explaining what’s going to happen July 1 and why. Most folks knew something about our impending doom, but they all left unhappy about the cuts’ specific impact on their lives.
Don’t look now, but someone is joining your travels: Big Brother. You assume you’re alone, traveling in your car to and from work? No, you are being watched. All along I-95 TV cameras are looking for accidents and slow downs. Though there are specific state laws prohibiting the use of those cameras to write speeding tickets, they can follow […]
Am I the only person in the state who thinks Gov. Dannel Malloy’s plan for tolls and gas taxes makes sense? Probably. But let me try once again to overcome the usual objections and explain why Malloy’s plan is fair and necessary. Tolls are taxes: No, tolls are users fees. Train fares aren’t taxes, are they? If you don’t want to pay a few pennies a gallon more for gasoline, don’t drive. Join us on the train and pay the highest commuter rail fares in the US. There is no free ride. …
Though maybe not the most glamorous means of mass transit, Connecticut’s 12,000+ local and commuter buses form a vital link in our transportation network. “We’re not just a service for the needy few,” says Greater Bridgeport Transit’s CEO Doug Holcomb, the feisty young leader of one of the state’s largest and most successful bus systems. In other words, single-occupancy car drivers’ perceptions notwithstanding, it’s not just poor folks and the car-less who must rely on the bus. According to Holcomb, 90 percent of GBT’s ridership is either going to school or work. Like rail commuters, some bus passengers own cars but prefer to take the bus for any number of reasons.
“Commuting on Metro-North is like getting hit with a two-by-four. Service is getting worse and now you’re hitting us with a 10% fare hike.”
Those comments came from Jeffrey Maron, Vice-Chairman of the official Connecticut Commuter Rail Council (CCCR), a usually mild mannered, two-compliments-before-any-complaint kind of guy. (Maron and I both served on the predecessor Metro-North Commuter Council).
Why does gasoline cost 52 cents a gallon more in Greenwich than Bridgeport? Is it because folks in Greenwich are richer and can afford it? Or is it because it costs gasoline station owners more to operate in that tony ZIP code? While both factors are probably true, the reason gasoline costs more in some towns than in others is because of something called “zone pricing,” an industry practice that does all but set the price for the commodity that is charged by distributors and passed along to their customers.
It should have been done by now. 2018 was the expected completion date of the new railroad tunnels under the Hudson River first proposed in 2009. At the time the $9 billion project was the biggest infrastructure project in the country. Now it’s just a footnote to history. Why do rail tunnels from New York’s Penn Station to New Jersey matter to us here in Connecticut? Because they are the weakest but most crucial link in the northeast corridor, the $50 billion heart of the US economy. Imagine trying to get to Philadelphia or Washington without Amtrak running through our state, into those tunnels and to points south.
Fare hikes, rail service cuts and a freeze on transportation projects. As he promised in December, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced them all last month. Rail commuters and highway drivers are justifiably outraged, but they should direct their anger not at the Governor or Connecticut Department of Transportation but at the legislature.
Fare increases, reduced train service, less highway snow plowing, postponed construction. All of these and more are on the horizon, say Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut DOT because our Special Transportation Fund (STF) is running dry. I hate to say I told you so, but…
Something like 1.73 million Americans board airplanes ever day. And each of them must go through a very necessary screening by the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration. But beginning late this month, a lot of passengers will be denied boarding because they don’t have the right kind of ID. You can thank (or blame) the Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 after 9/11 to make sure people really are who they claim to be. As any teen can tell you, it’s too easy to obtain a fake ID. And if teens can do it, terrorists can also.
Six words I never thought I’d write: “I feel sorry for Dannel Malloy.”
Sure, we’ve had our differences. And yeah, the governor does have the personality of a porcupine and the disposition of a bully, sometimes. But the man is not evil and he doesn’t deserve what’s happening to him now. Nor do we. Our governor is a lame duck. Because he’s announced he’s not running for re-election, he has the political clout of a used teabag. And even though he’s our state’s leader for another 11 months, nobody cares about him or his ideas any longer.
A few updates on some recent items: HYPERLOOP: In July I wrote about tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s idea to build a 700-plus mph tube system to whisk passengers from Washington D.C. to New York City in 29 minutes using a combination of a near-vacuum and linear induction motors. I noted that Musk has yet to build a working full-scale prototype, and called him “the PT Barnum of technology” offering “more hype than hope.”
At the time, Musk had just gone public after a meeting at the White House saying he’d been given “approval” to start boring giant tunnels for his project. I scoffed at the notion, but have been proven wrong.
Tired of driving on potholed roads? Who isn’t? We may not (yet) have tolls, but the terrible condition of our highways takes its toll on our vehicles with bent rims, alignments and other repairs. There are more than 10,000 lane-miles of state highways in Connecticut, of which only 300 are repaved each year. But that work involves more than just slapping a new layer of asphalt on those roads.
“Why don’t they build a monorail down the middle of I-95?”
So began the latest in a series of well-intended emails I regularly receive from readers, anxious to offer what seem like smart solutions to our transportation crisis in Connecticut.
Why no monorail? Because we don’t have the money.
So let me ask — and answer — a few questions: