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(Established in 1985 under Connecticut Public Act 85-239, now Sections 13b-212b and

13b -212c of the Connecticut General Statutes)







Present were:  Jim Cameron, Chairman; Sue Prosi, Bob Jelley, Drew Todd, Rodney Chabot, Roger Cirella, Jack Tastani, John Hartwell, Terri Cronin, Luke Schmirring, Jeff Maron and Connor Murphy, members of the Council; Gene Colonese and Jeff Parker, DOT; John Austin and Richard Stowe, members of the public. 


Chairman Jim Cameron introduced new member, Jack Tastani.  The November and December minutes were approved.  Mr. Cameron thanked the Council members who had assisted in writing sections of the annual report. 


The meeting began at 7:00 p.m.




Mr. Cameron introduced the question of whether or not we should endeavor to have the general assembly amend the definition of “commuter” in the legislation establishing the Rail Council so as to include the planned Springfield/Hartford/New Haven commuter service.  He said that it was his view that there should be a separate council for that service, because it was too hard for someone to really monitor that service and also be interested in the New Haven line.  Others suggested that it was too hard for someone living in the upper part of the State to attend meetings in Stamford.  Bob Jelley reminded the Council that in the early 1990’s, the legislature refused to establish a special rail council for Shore Line East, and instead added an additional member to the Council.  It was decided to follow the situation and to decide at a later date whether or not to push for including Springfield/Hartford/New Haven commuter service in the existing Rail Council’s service area.  Sue Prosi suggested commenting on the issue in next year’s annual report.


Jeff Parker in answer to a question about progress on commuter service to Springfield, said that the State had received some money for improving the track in Berlin and Newington for freight service, and that will improve things also for commuter service.  He also said that in March the Federal Railroad Administration would decide on high speed stimulus money, which might provide additional funds for the Springfield line. 




Roger Cirella said there were not enough trains on weekends and holidays on the Waterbury branch.. 


Mr. Jelley suggested the importance of having all Shore Line East trains stop at State Street Station.  Gene Colonese said that the new timetable added some stops at State Street, and additional stops were being studied.  He also said, in response to a suggestion by Mr. Jelley, that it was not possible to make the 3:20 p.m. train from New Haven to Old Saybrook a few minutes earlier in order to permit stops at Guilford and State Street on the return trip, because people who regularly took the 3:20 p.m. train complained when it was a few minutes earlier during construction work last summer.


Mr. Parker said that he hoped for one or two additional roundtrip trains to New London beginning in February. He also said that there would be additional tie work and bridge work this summer.    


Mr. Colonese reported that the signal system for the Danbury line would probably be finished in 2011-12.  He said that Metro North was already putting out bids for long-lead items.  He also said there was need for an additional substation on the Danbury line.  Drew Todd asked about construction of the signal system interrupting regular train service.  Mr. Colonese said that there would be midday service interruption on about 80 weekdays and there would also be some weekend service interruption. 




Richard Stowe suggested that all Metro North trains should stop at State Street in addition to Union Station in New Haven.  He also wanted more of the express trains to stop in Greenwich.  He then went on to suggest that rather than the existing complete timetables for the New Haven line, there ought to be a complete New York to Stamford timetable and a separate complete Stamford to New Haven timetable.  Mr. Colonese said that timetables will, in any case, have to be done differently, because the existing timetable format is now at maximum size. 


John Hartwell asked about making schedule changes so that there were better connections between the New Haven line and Amtrak at New Haven, Bridgeport, and Stamford.  Mr. Colonese said that those connections were not a high priority. 


In answer to a question about automated train boards, Mr. Colonese said that White Plains Station was the model that Metro North hoped could be extended to other stations. 




Mr. Colonese said that he had talked with Mark Mannix at Metro North about the Rail Council’s December resolution asking for better service alerts.  In addition, Mr. Parker had spoken to Metro North President, Howard Permut, about the subject.  He said that there still appeared to be a philosophical difference with the approach of the Long Island Railroad.  There was then some discussion of the new “TrainTime” website service, which recently had come on line.  Some people reported that they had trouble getting TrainTime on their blackberries.  Jeff Maron said that he was more interested in the exceptions than the trains that were on time. 


With respect to the Monthly Operations Report, Mr. Colonese said that November ridership was down less than in prior months, and he thought maybe the decrease in ridership had leveled off.


Terri Cronin complimented the Railroad on good on-time performance.  She asked about the rehabilitation of bar cars, and Mr. Colonese said that only 8 of the existing bar cars, not 10, will be rehabilitated.


Mr. Cameron mentioned the two new M-8 cars that were on display in New Haven on December 24th.  Mr. Parker said another pair was on its way to New Haven and a third pair was on a ship to Baltimore. 




Mr. Parker said that there was nothing new to report to the Council. 




In response to a question from Mr. Cameron, the Council agreed that the February 24 meeting will be held in Stamford, not New Haven. 




Mr. Cameron said that following his “Talking Transportation” article last fall, Mr. Jelley had suggested that the fare structure be discussed in detail at a Council meeting.  In advance of the meeting, Mr. Jelley had distributed a description of the current fare structure to Council members and DOT officials.  At the meeting, Mr. Colonese made some corrections in Mr. Jelley’s description.  The following is the corrected description of the current fare structure:






Here’s some info for our general discussion of fairness of the longstanding Metro North/Shore Line East fare structure at our Wednesday meeting.  A lot of this simply expands on Jim’s talking transportation article from October 5, 2009.


Here is the basic scheme on the main line:


1.               The New Haven line is divided into zones, or groups of stations, that all have the same fares.  The mileage portion of the fare is the arithmetic average of all stations in the zone.

2.               The peak one-way fare to GCT is 18.17 cents per mile to GCT plus $5.45 additional for going to Harlem or GCT, but not to Fordham.

3.               The off-peak, one-way fare is 75% of the peak one-way fare.

4.               The monthly fare is 48-49.5% of forty-two times the peak one-way fare.  So if one commutes five days a week to NYC, in an average month, one pays about 50% of the peak one-way fare for each ride.

5.               The senior/disabled fare is 50% of the peak one-way fare, but is not valid on morning peak trains to GCT.  It is valid on morning and evening peak trains out of GCT.

6.               Peak ten-trip tickets are ten times the peak one-way ticket.  Off-peak ten-trip tickets are 85% of ten times the off-peak one-way ticket.  Senior ten-trip tickets are ten times the senior one-way ticket.

7.               One-way fares within Connecticut are called intermediate fares, and are not divided into peak and off-peak.  They are not based on a formula, but are somewhere between peak and off-peak fares.  Ten trip intermediate tickets are 85% of ten times the intermediate one-way fare.

8.               One-way fares are rounded to the nearest 25 cents.  Some fares like off-peak one way and senior fares, are rounded twice.

9.               Branch line fares are a morass.  New Canaan to GCT is the same peak one-way fare as Stamford to GCT, $12.25.  Danbury to GCT is $14.25, $1.25 more than the $13.00 from South Norwalk to GCT for the additional 24 miles!  Waterbury to GCT is $16.50, $1.00 more than the $15.50 from Bridgeport for the additional 33 miles!  (The one-way fare on each of the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branches to its junction with the main line is $2.25, the minimum Metro North fare).  On the other hand, Shore Line East’s fares are $2.42, plus 14.6 cents for all miles over ten.


So here are some of the fairness questions:


A)             Should monthly commuters pay only half-fare?

B)              Should senior/disabled riders pay only half-fare?

C)              Why are there no off-peak fares for travel within Connecticut?

D)             What’s the reason for the different multiples for the different ten-trip tickets?

E)              Are the fares for the four branch lines fair?  Why is Shore Line East so out-of-step with the other three branch lines?

F)              Does rounding of fares to the nearest 25 cents continue to make any sense, since ticket machines can make change in nickels and dimes?  Taking fares to the nearest nickel would make the 1% fare increase a lot fairer and easier.

G)             Are fares by zone fair?  Why should Stamford be lumped with Darien and New Canaan and pay fares based on an average distance from GCT of 37 miles, rather than its actual 33 miles?


* * * * * * * * * *

The first item discussed was the question of monthly fares.  Mr. Cameron said that he thought that there was something basically wrong with giving riders on peak trains such a fare advantage, when they were using the trains when they were most crowded.  There was general discussion of the fact that those with monthly tickets frequently worked late and take off peak trains home, the fact that many people nowadays go into their offices fewer than 5 days per week, but work at home instead, and the fact of longer vacations.  At the end of the discussion, there seemed to be a general view that the monthly fare was probably not something that ought to be changed. 


With respect to senior/disabled fares, Mr. Colonese said that he thought it was required by federal legislation that seniors and disabled people be able to ride at a 50% discount.  He said that he was sure that was true of the disabled, and would check as to whether it was also true for seniors. 


There was considerable discussion about intermediate fares within Connecticut, and the question of why there was no off-peak fare in Connecticut.  Mr. Colonese said that intermediate fares even at peak times were somewhat below the 18.17 cents per mile fares to GCT. 


There was also discussion of the inconsistency of pricing of ten trip tickets with some at 10 times the price of a single ticket and others at 8.5 times the price of a single ticket.  Mr. Colonese said that the reduced price of a ten trip off-peak ticket was a further incentive to discretionary travel. 


Mr. Cameron raised the question of the reason for the $5.45 add-on for tickets to Harlem and GCT.  Mr. Jelley said that the Long Island Railroad also had an add-on for tickets from Long Island to Brooklyn and Queens and a further add-on for tickets to Penn Station.  Mr. Parker suggested that one reason for the add-on is to discourage use of the Railroad when subways were also available. 


There was discussion of the use of zones rather than differing pricing for each station.  Mr. Colonese said that zoning came into use in the 1970’s.  He also said that with the introduction of new stations on the New Haven line, the whole question of zoning was being discussed. 


There was also some discussion of rounding to the nearest 25 cents, and the fact that with many fewer tickets being sold on trains, and the general use of credit cards for buying tickets, much of the need for rounding no longer exists. 


At the end of the discussion, Mr. Jelley suggested that the two obvious pieces of the fare structure that seemed unfair were:  (1) the differing discounts on ten-trip tickets, and (2) failure to have all off-peak fare for travel within Connecticut.




There was some discussion of the closing of ticket booths at stations.  It was mentioned that student tickets cannot be purchased at machines.  Mr. Colonese said that problem was being studied. 


There was discussion of the financial problems of the Fairfield Metro Center.  Mr. Parker said that the State had money to construct the station, but not enough to do the station and the parking as originally designed.  He expected it to be completed in late 2011. 


The meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.  The next meeting will take place on February 24, 2010 at SWRPA in Stamford.


Bob Jelley


Phone:  (203) 498-4306