A Connecticut DMV survivor tells all

I recently have returned from more than three solid hours at the Old Saybrook office of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. At the end of my long half-day’s journey into trauma, I came within an eyelash of having to come back another day. Warning: this tragicomic tale is not for the faint of heart.

Mileage tax study: Why pay for something CT doesn’t want or need?

There has been quite a lot of coverage lately about Connecticut’s interest in a mileage tax. Most of it focuses on how bad a mileage tax would be for the state. I agree, it would. People in Connecticut just can’t take on one more tax, and on top of that, a mileage tax raises too many privacy issues. But I don’t think that’s what the real story is. The story is really about trust, transparency, and inappropriate use of scarce resources.

Ferries are not the answer for Connecticut commuters

Recently, New York City Mayor DeBlasio announced a $325 million plan to re-introduce ferry boat service to the five boroughs, charging the same fare as subways. The mayor says these boats could carry 4.5 million passengers a year.

So why don’t we have ferries in Connecticut? There are several reasons:

Connecticut’s infrastructure dangling by a thread

The recent fire under the Park Avenue viaduct in Harlem, which disrupted commutes of a quarter million Metro-North riders, got me thinking: our aging, crumbling and vulnerable transportation infrastructure is close to collapse, and the effects of such failure could be catastrophic. Consider this track-record:

Connecticut’s ‘lockbox’ is log jammed at the Capitol

I hope you’ve been following CT-N to watch our dysfunctional legislature in recent weeks as they struggle to fill a $900 million budget gap. Not only could they not get a new budget together before adjourning (only to be summoned back this week for a special session), but the legislative logjam left several important measures in limbo. Among them, the long debated “lock box” for special transportation funding.

No Wi-Fi on Metro North, and here’s why

Discount bus lines like Megabus have free Wi-Fi. Even Connecticut’s new CTfastrak commuter bus system to Hartford gives its passengers free Wi-Fi.
But there is no Wi-Fi on Metro-North. And the railroad says none is planned, even though the new M8 railcars are ready for the needed gear. And therein lies a story.

Is Uber really a bargain for Connecticut riders?

In the almost two years since Uber rolled into Connecticut, the state’s car/taxi service business has been rocked to its core. But is Uber competing on the same level as taxis and car service companies? Of course not, which is why it’s so successful. I spoke with Uber’s Connecticut Manager Matt Powers and Drivers Unlimited (a Darien car and limo company) owner Randy Klein to try to get an objective comparison of the services. (Full disclosure: I have been a customer of both firms.)

CT transportation funding: Something for everyone to hate

I hate to say “I told you so,” but… just as I’d predicted, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s hand-picked Transportation Finance Panel has finally issued its recommendations for paying for the governor’s 30-year, $100 billion transportation “plan.” Interestingly, as it began work last summer, the Transportation Finance Panel wasn’t allowed to debate the merits of anything in the governor’s “plan,” so all they could do was suggest how to fund the whole thing.

Don’t blame trucks for Connecticut traffic congestion

Driving to Hartford the other day (no, you cannot really get there by train) I saw a beautiful sight: hundreds of trucks! Yet, motorists hate trucks and mistakenly blame them for traffic congestion and accidents that cause hours of delays. Readers of this column know I’m a “rail guy” and would love to see freight trains replace trucks, but that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. But as motorists we should not blame truckers for traffic woes of our own creation.