How are we going to get riders back on the trains and save Metro-North from ballooning deficits, potential service cuts or fare hikes? That’s the question I crowd-sourced on social media recently and found dozens of great answers!
The governor’s proposed biennial budget for transportation just doesn’t add up. Thanks to reduced rail ridership he’s projecting cost savings in the CDOT budget of $82 million over the next two years but promises no further cuts in service beyond those already taken during the pandemic. But how does that jibe with Metro-North parent MTA’s projected $8 billion operating deficit through 2024?
Anyone who follows this column knows I’m a “train guy.” I’ve always been a supporter of mass transit and continue to be. But sometimes I wonder just where the state’s priorities are when they chose to waste $1 million on yet another crazy study.
Why is transportation construction so expensive in our area? What kind of honor was it when New York City recently surpassed Zurich (one of the most expensive cities in the world) as No. 1 on the most-expensive-place-to-do-underground-construction dishonor roll?
I have one belated prediction for the new year and you’re not going to like it: After we all get vaccinated and things ‘return to normal,’ regular weekday commuters on Metro-North will not be coming back as hoped.
Early in our parenting my wife and I taught our daughter about the difference between wanting something and needing something. She might want a pony but did she need one? And most importantly, what was she willing to do to get that pony. “Ponies aren’t free,” we would remind her. The same things are true for transportation, our climate and our health.
Notice anything missing on your store shelves? Maybe paper products or your favorite canned soup? Given that the pandemic has been raging for over nine months, why aren’t the shelves full again? Why isn’t the stuff we want “getting there?” Well one of the reasons is because a Japanese engineer visited an American supermarket in the 1950s and noticed something he thought was wrong… and we’re still paying for his astute observations.
Are you nostalgic for the “good old days” on Metro-North… the crowded trains, the inevitable delays, your often-times crazy fellow passengers? If so, you’ll want to check out former conductor Michael Shaw’s great new book, “My Rail Life.”
My argument is that price of the fuel we use (gasoline) doesn’t cover the real cost to our environment (or each other) when we drive. Gasoline is too cheap.
The headline a few days ago was encouraging: “CT gets $400K grant to study improvements to Metro-North lines.” But what’s $400,000 going to tell us that we don’t already know?
Any rider of Metro-North knows the infrastructure is crumbling, the station parking and seating on trains (until COVID) are inadequate and, on the branch lines, the service is terrible. So why another study? Turns out, this federal grant is different…
Here’s a possible solution to Connecticut’s transportation and infrastructure problems and the state’s current unemployment woes: a WPA style building project. You do remember the Works Progress Administration, right?
When it comes to COVID’s impact on transportation in our state, we are in the eye of the hurricane. That’s been the theme of my recent virtual talk to various Connecticut’s libraries and civic groups, comparing the calm eye of an intense storm to how we’ve become complacent about our transportation future. We kid ourselves if we think the winds have passed. The worst is yet to come.
When you think of the AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, you probably conjure up thoughts of senior discounts, health insurance and retirement. So it might surprise you to learn that they’re also actively engaged in driver safety and promoting access to mass transit.
There’s another part of our transportation network being seriously affected by COVID-19 beyond our roads and rails: parking lots.
Welcome to Connecticut, the home of third world infrastructure. Tropical storm Isaias has shown, once again, that we don’t want to invest in our state’s physical plant and we don’t learn from our mistakes. But we are all so ready to blame somebody else when stuff goes wrong.