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Major Funding Cuts Proposed to Bus Service

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In December we published the newsletter and podcast Community Engagement, Part 1. This month, we bring you Part 2, along with critical information about transportation funding in Connecticut and information about how to contact your legislator.

 

 

Podcast #2 – Community Engagement, Part 2

Creating a Community of Advocates

In this podcast, GBT CEO Doug Holcomb discusses how people in the community can stay engaged with and help inform public transit planning in the Greater Bridgeport Region.

 

 

NOTE: Podcast available in English only.

 

Save Our Special Transportation Fund

Major Funding Cuts Proposed to Bus Service

 

GBT Bus Station


Connecticut’s transportation system is dependent upon the State’s Special Transportation Fund (STF). Without funding from the STF, bus and rail operations diminish, then stop. At the same time, investment in modernization and repairs ends, deepening the problem and extending it far into the future. Today, the STF is nearly out of money and the future of transit looks grim. This creates serious problems for anyone who depends on the bus in Connecticut. If you, your family and friends, your employees, your students, your clients or customers use the bus, read on.

 

We need to restore funding to the STF quickly. One important source of revenue used to sustain the STF is the gas tax. Funding from the STF is invested in operations and infrastructure improvements of all kinds — bus, rail, highway and ports — things we all depend on. Whatever the reason for the insolvency — a decline in vehicle miles traveled, the increasing fuel efficiency of our passenger cars or the reduction in the State’s gasoline tax in the 1990s — it doesn’t matter anymore. Revenue is needed now to keep the systems running.

GBT Bus Station

 

Budget cuts will hurt transportation throughout the State. In the Bridgeport region alone, it equates to a budget cut of $1.8 million to the bus service beginning in July. The impact of the cut will be swift and harmful to many residents, businesses and institutions in the region. It will lead to the wholesale elimination of bus routes and erase decades of progress toward improving the Region’s bus service and mobility options for our residents. With the elimination of routes will come the abandonment of areas currently served by transit and a cut to services for seniors and riders with disabilities. We will see deep cuts in services from Milford to Norwalk and from Bridgeport to Shelton, Derby and the Valley — reduced frequencies, shortened service days and a much smaller service area. This would begin in July and to make matters worse, these cuts would follow a fare increase. Similar cuts and fare increases are being planned across the State.

 

The importance of public transit in Connecticut should not be underestimated. Buses and trains serve more than 80 million customers every year in Connecticut. In the Bridgeport Region, there are over 18,000 bus boardings daily. Public transit is essential to countless employers and institutions — thousands of people take the bus to get to work each day. The bus and train service is a critical part of reducing highway congestion, especially here in Fairfield County. The bus also provides independence for seniors and riders with disabilities. It is a key to getting an education and a job for many people; it is a path toward economic freedom. These are some of the reasons that public transportation is essential for a strong economy and healthy communities.

I-95 in Fairfield County

 

While the debate on the long-term fix continues, we must restore funding to the STF to meet the immediate needs of all modes of transportation in Connecticut. I am advocating for an immediate increase in the gas tax because it is needed now to continue existing transit services. There are a number of other options being discussed publicly, including the early implementation of a new car sales tax to help fund the STF and, in the longer term, tolls. In the end, we will likely need a combination of these and other methods to provide for predictable funding at proper levels. In any case, action is needed now.

 

Doing nothing is not an option. Waiting another year — or even another month — for a new innovative funding solution is an unacceptable gamble. A fix is needed quickly. If you would like to keep the system moving, and I am guessing you do, now is the time to say so.

 

If you or someone you know would like to see public transit in Connecticut grow, if you would like to stop planned fare increases and service cuts, contact your legislator and let them know the importance of the services to you and your family or business — and ask your fellow riders to do the same.


Doug Holcomb, AICP
CEO/General Manager
Greater Bridgeport Transit
February 12, 2018

 

 

“We’ve recognized from the outset that an effective, forward-looking transportation system is absolutely key to economic growth.”

—Robert Patricelli, co-chair of Connecticut's Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth

 


 

What is the STF and Why Does It Matter?What is the STF and Why Does It Matter?


The Special Transportation Fund (STF) is a part of the State of Connecticut’s budget. A major funding source for the STF is gasoline tax. Those dollars are meant to fund all transportation projects in the state, from highways and bridges to buses, trains and ports.

 

The fund is running out of money for many reasons including:

  • a reduction of the gasoline tax in the 1990’s to a level that has not provided enough funding to keep pace with the needed budget for infrastructure and services
  • more fuel efficient and electric vehicles on the road mean less gasoline tax revenue coming in to the state
  • no “lock box” on the STF which means money from the STF can be used for other purposes

The fact is that the STF is projected to begin running a deficit in July 2018 and that means that there will be major budget cuts in the state to all transportation infrastructure and services — highways, bridges, roads, bus and train service, and ports — unless something is done now to restore funds to the STF.

 

 

“Something has to be done, and tolls are still several years out,” Rojas said. “We have an immediate need for revenue.”

—State Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford

 

 

What Does This Mean for Bus Riders?

 

Bus operations are funded from three sources: State funding (the STF), fares, and financial contributions from municipalities. The largest part of the budget comes from state funding. When this is cut, it means bus service providers must make cuts.

Transit Funding Sources

 

Here at GBT, the funding has been reduced since 2015. We have spent the last four years making the system as efficient as possible while maintaining a balanced budget. At this point any further reductions to the budget will result in a cut to bus services that are used by thousands of people every day.

 

What Can You Do?

 

Your Thoughts are Important 

 

Public bus service is just that. It’s public. It is yours. By becoming involved in the planning process, you can help create the bus service that you need and want. Your participation in this process is vital to shaping not only bus service, but the community you live in. We hope that you will become involved and share your thoughts and ideas.

 

Some ways you can get involved are:

  • Come to one of our Quarterly Passenger Advisory Committee (PAC) Meetings. SEE CALENDAR>>
  • Come to one of our Open Houses. We have several each year and publish information about when they are in this newsletter, on our website, and on Facebook and twitter.
  • Talk with your legislator. A call or email to your legislator is a powerful way to let him or her know what is important to you. Legislators who hear from you can help make decisions at the state level that represent your needs.


 

Connecticut General Assembly

How to Contact Your Legislator

 

Here’s where you can find your legislator and share your thoughts>>

 

Once you find your representative, make sure you click on his or her title to send an email or you can click on your legislator’s name to go to his or her webpage where you can find a phone number to call to share your thoughts.

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Rider Alerts

Dec 3, 2018

Detours on CL, 6, 9, 10, 13, 15, 23 on 12/4/18 in Bridgeport. More Info>>

Desvíos en las Rutas CL, 6, 9, 10, 13, 15, 23 en el 4 de diciembre. Más información>>



More info »

STF in the News

CT Mirror 1/23/18

Rojas to propose 4-cent hike in CT gasoline tax

“Something has to be done, and tolls are still several years out,” Rojas said. “We have an immediate need for revenue.”

 

CT Mirror 1/22/18

Goal of latest group to study Connecticut: ‘Go big, or go home’

“We’ve recognized from the outset that an effective, forward-looking transportation system is absolutely key to economic growth,” he said. 
—Robert Patricelli, co-chair of Connecticut's Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth

 

CT Post 1/31/18

Commuter Action Group Hails Governor Malloy’s Call for Tolls & Gas Taxes to Fund Transportation

“Metro-North riders have been paying more than their fair share for using mass transit,” said CAG Founder Jim Cameron. “Now it’s time for motorists to help pay for the maintenance of the roads they drive on.”

 

Hartford Courant 1/9/18

Business Leaders Say State Economy is in Crisis

"Loree called transportation “the backbone of the economy,” and said the commission viewed the near-depleted fund, plundered over the years for stopgap projects, as a priority.”