Who speaks for commuters?

“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).

Is zone pricing on gasoline fair?

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.

The Hudson River tunnels should have been done by now

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.

Repay the diverted transportation funds before raising fares and taxes

Response to Jim Cameron: Jim, as a person who really does know the truth, it would benefit us all for you to tell the whole truth, so we can really learn from the past and fix the problem.  Past administrations on both sides of the aisle have raided the Special Transportation Fund to the tune of $1.5 billion and counting as raids continue today. If you really want our roads and bridges fixed, first we must stop the raiding.

Infrastructure needs are obvious; funding for them not so much

Once again Connecticut legislators are scouring every crevice for new sources to cover our over-budgeted projects. Monday multiple House Democrats yet again purpose the installation of tolls. State rep. Tony Guerrera , House chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, states “I promise you if we do this, this state will thrive.”

Tolls: A slap in face to taxpayers, motorists whose funds were diverted

Recent reports of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s desire to erect electronic tolling on select state roads is a slap in the face to those who pay taxes in Connecticut and purchase gasoline or diesel fuel for use in their vehicles and equipment. For decades, funds that were legislated to be collected for transportation development and maintenance have been diverted to the General Fund to be used for non-transportation purposes.

A transportation funding crisis years in the making

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.

A disappearing act: Connecticut’s transportation funding

In news that shouldn’t surprise anybody, Hartford politicians and bureaucrats have spent this past month declaring the state “desperately” needs more money. By now, Connecticut residents attuned to this rhetoric realize that “new revenue sources” just means “more taxes.”  The proposed remedy in this case: tolls. DOT Commissioner James Redeker recently toured the state proclaiming that the Special Transportation Fund (STF), money that is funded by one of the highest gas taxes in the country and purportedly reserved solely for transportation, is out of money and only tolls can save it. 

Connecticut’s transportation Armageddon

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…

How will the Real ID Act affect you?

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.

Some analysis, please, on tolls versus higher gasoline tax

We need a serious comparison of the costs and benefits of tolls vs. higher gas taxes.  Some obvious issues are…
Costs: It should cost next to nothing to raise gas taxes, while tolls might involve significant capital and operating costs.
Equity: It would seem fair that all drivers pay a share of maintaining and improving roads, not just ones using particular highways.
Contribution from drivers from out-of-state: How would the two options compare?

Congestion pricing: Would a toll system really be put at locations that enable effective congestion pricing?  Border tolls would not do so.  Could congestion pricing really be fair and effective in a state with limited alternative transportation options and limited number of lanes on highways?

Feeling sorry for Dannel Malloy; more sorry for us

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.