Malloy Rolls Out Million-Dollar Bus Expansion Amid Budget CrisisAugust 11, 2017
Dan Malloy proudly announced a new Hartford-to-Storrs bus line, even as the state operates without a budget and faces a $3.5 billion two-year deficit.
Budget crisis? What budget crisis?
Connecticut is well into month two without a budget, and even after a concession deal with state employee unions faces a two-year deficit of around $3.5 billion.
Despite these problems, Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.) took the time on Thursday to roll out … a new bus line running from Hartford to Storrs and back.
Malloy proudly announced the news in a press release, with no mention of the cost.
“An investment in our transportation system is an investment in our economic development, and it makes great sense to considerably improve connections between campuses within our state’s flagship university,” Governor Malloy said. “By linking these three campuses together via public transit, in addition to the ability to connect to other destinations in Central Connecticut, including the upcoming Hartford Line rail commuter system with convenient connections to Bradley International Airport, we are making smart investments in our economy.”
The CT Mirror reported that student fees will contribute at least $800,000 to the cost of running the service, while the Department of Transportation will pay another $1.1 million:
The service is an element of a new U-pass system. UConn students have agreed to a $20 monthly fee that will give them unlimited access to CT Transit buses and state-funded rail service. The student fees will produce $800,000 a year to partly offset the cost of the new Hartford-Storrs service, with the state paying another $1.1 million through the DOT’s budget.
It’s unclear how much the system may cost in the long run, but a CT fastrak estimate, from last year, put a UConn Storrs-Hartford service at $1.4 million per year to operate, and three “Park & Ride” stations at another $1.4 million.
The key question: can Connecticut afford such investments with a massive budget deficit?
UPDATE: In a statement sent to Reclaim Connecticut, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby) called on Malloy to “reconsider” the expansion.
““This is a highly subsidized bus line that, even if the rosy rider participation estimates prove reasonably accurate, will cost the DOT at least $1 million to operate,” Klarides said. “If the Governor decides to go ahead with this plan we will then appeal to our Democrat colleagues to reconsider this issue as we implement budget language.”
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