Spending Cuts, Huge Range of Subsidies for Rail, Bus Lines in Connecticut

Published February 27, 2013

New public transportation projects are starting to eat up more of Connecticut’s budget, while the heavily used Metro-North Railroad is facing cuts in state support.

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget proposes to cut Metro-North $5.5 million next year and $4.4 million the year after because of recent fare increases, according to a report by the General Assembly’s budget agency.

Existing bus service will receive $4.1 million less in state support next year and an $8.1 million reduction the following year as a 2012 and proposed 2014 fare increase are implemented.

Metro-North will also receive $2 million less in each of the next two years because of reduced need for maintenance vehicles and equipment.

The New Britain to Hartford busway, branded as CT Fastrak, will cost $3.75 million in 2015 for a half year of service. Another $6.9 million over two years will go toward new plows for the Dept. of Transportation and maintenance equipment for the busway.

Responsibility for Amtrak

The DOT will also take responsibility for funding Amtrak service between New Haven and Springfield – as part of the planned commuter line connecting the two cities and which Hartford expected to open in 2016 – at a cost of $7 million next year and $9.5 million in 2015.

Shore Line East, the rail line connecting New London and New Haven, gets $1.6 million extra in the first year of Malloy’s proposed budget and $2.2 million the following year.

Subsidies Up to $42 a Ride

DOT estimates operating subsidies for public transportation range widely from a little less than $2.50 per ride all the way up to $42 dollars per ride.

These calculations do not include capital costs, such as the rail lines themselves or interest costs.

According to DOT:

  • Metro-North receives $2.40 per ride. A peak fare from New Haven to New York City costs $20.50. Stamford to New York City costs $13.75 at peak rates.
  • CT Fastrak will receive about $3.05 per ride. Existing bus lines receive about $3.20 in state subsidies per ride. Bus fares are currently $1.30.
  • Shore Line East receives $42 per ride from the state. A ticket from New London to New Haven costs $9. Shorter trips cost as little as $3.

The state subsidy for a peak New Haven to New York City ticket works out to 10 percent of the rider’s cost.

Bus subsidies amount to more than 200 percent of the rider’s cost.

The subsidy for Shore Line East is more than 450 percent the cost of the most expensive ticket.

DOT didn’t have an estimate for Amtrak subsidies readily available. One report estimates 500,000 Amtrak rides per year. At $7 million in state costs, the subsidy would amount to $14 per ride.

Zachary Janowski ([email protected]) is an investigative reporter for the Yankee Institute for Public Policy. Used with permission of RaisingHale.com, a media project of the Yankee Institute.