Report by Paula Antolini
March 8, 2018 7:18PM EDT
Bethel Legislators Applaud DOT Commissioner, Commuters for Productive Multi-Town Community Forum
DANBURY–On Tuesday night, State Reps. State Representatives Will Duff (R-2), Stephen Harding (R-107) and Senator Michael McLachlan (R-24) along with area drivers, bus and train commuters, and had a chance to voice their frustrations with the conditions of Connecticut’s transportation system, proposed fares hikes and offer ideas for improvements at a forum with the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT) James Redeker.
The forum was sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators from the Route 7 corridor who are concerned that in the last few months, the state DOT has proposed raising rail and bus fares 21.28 percent over the next 3 years, significantly reducing rail service on the Danbury and Waterbury Lines. Additionally, the governor has cancelled over $4 billion in transportation projects state-wide and introduced a proposal to bring tolls back to the state, raise the gas tax 7 cents over 4 years and implement a new ‘tire tax’.
The forum was held in the Council Chambers at Danbury City Hall. State legislators in attendance were: State Representatives Mitch Bolinsky (R-Newtown), Will Duff (R-Bethel), Adam Dunsby (R-Easton), Michael Ferguson (R-Danbury), Steve Harding (R-Brookfield), Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton), Fred Wilms (R-Norwalk), David Arconti (D-Danbury), Bob Godfrey (D-Danbury) and Senator Michael McLachlan (R-Danbury).
“We need to be cognizant that many people rely on public bus transportation as their only means of transportation, and without it some could not get to and from work,” said Rep. Will Duff. “I want to thank the riders HARTransit for attending our transportation forum. A 15 percent cut to state subsidies for HARTransit in Danbury proposed for July 1st, by the state DOT, will threaten much needed bus routes and services for disabled people. It is my hope Commissioner Redeker listened to those who spoke and need the bus service.”
Rep. Harding said, “It is readily apparent that Gov. Malloy’s cuts to our local transportation system will be devastating to our entire community. I stand strong with our residents against these proposed cuts and will continue to fight for proper funding to our local transportation.”
Sen. McLachlan said, “I hope Commissioner Redeker was listening to all the people who took the time to attend this forum and share the enormous negative impact the administration’s proposals will have on businesses, commuters, and the entire community. The Connecticut economy is suffering from the already high taxes and fees imposed by Governor Malloy’s administration. Reduced schedules, increased fares, tolls, an increase in the gas tax, and all the other ways that have been proposed to suck more money out of taxpayers’ pockets; these will further cripple the economy and drive even more businesses and residents out of state.”
Sen. McLachlan along with Reps. Duff and Harding said they will work for other bi-partisan solutions to the state’s transportation problems.