To paraphrase Mark Twain, news of our victory is greatly exaggerated. Although it appeared from
the article in last Wednesday’s (March 12) New Haven Register that the Governor was conceding defeat
in his biennual battle to eliminate rail service in Connecticut, the fact is that there is no money
in the current budget for the three commuter lines. Although it is probable that the trains will be
funded, we need to keep working to insure that this happens. So, in summary, the only verifiable
thing Rowland said last week was TRAFFIC DOWN HERE IS BRUTAL.
PUBLIC HEARING MARCH 11 A HUGE SUCCESS
We would like to thank the nearly 400 people who turned out Tuesday, the 11th for the Field Hearing
in Guilford. The testimony was very impressive, well-researched and obviously of great interest to
the nine legislators present. The hearing, before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation,
was hosted by Rep. Pat Widlitz of Guilford, a loyal SLE supporter. The testimony demonstrated how
much we have all learned in the past two years about the positive value of every aspect of public
transportation. Thanks to all who testified and those who cheered them on. The hearing is being
broadcast on public access channels along the shoreline. Check your local listings for time and place.
MEETINGS ON WATERBURY AND DANBURY LINES
Two meetings were held on Thursday, March 20th. One is the monthly meeting of the Metro-North Commuter
Council and is billed as a pep rally to garner support for the Waterbury branch line. This meeting
will be held at 7 PM in the Naugatuck Hall which is about 30 minutes from New Haven. The second meeting
is a Field Hearing in Danbury at 6 pm at the Danbury Railroad Museum and sponsored by the Appropriations
Subcommittee on Transportation.
1. Increasing Ridership
In his recent New Haven Register interview, the Governor wished aloud that more people would ride the
trains and we heartily agree. Maybe this will help. SLERA is planning mailings to offer free monthly
passes to Yale and SNET employees who will try the train for the month of April or May. Other employers
will also be targeted. If you know of any we should talk to, let us know as soon as you can. Our goal
is to get 200 new riders to try the train before the Legislature votes on the budget in May so encourage
your colleagues to give the train a chance. More riders, even first time experimenters, can only strenghten our hand.
2. Postcard Project
On Tuesday, March 25 at 7:00 PM, we will gather in the Green Room of the Clinton Town Hall to stamp,
label and package postcards for mailing to legislators. It’s an assembly line project and should proceed
apace if there are lots of you to help. This time we will be appealing to the Appropriations, Transportation,
Environment, Public Safety and Public Health Committees. Please save the date. And grantful thanks to
the generous donor who supplies our elegant letterhead, envelopes and postcards.
3. Spring Clean-Up Tag Sale
We are exploring the possibilit y of running a Spring Clean-Up Tag Sale on Saturday, April 5 from 9:00 AM
until 1:00 PM at the Madison Train Station. The purpose would be to raise the postage money for the postcards.
Those of you who have volunteered to help, plus any other hardy folks, would be asked to bring a card table
and treasures turfed out in their Spring Clean-Ups and sell them for the benefit SLERA Postage Fund. More on this when the plans are finalized.
Speaking of raising money, you should know what we have raised to date and how we have spent it. Memberships
and contributions have totalled to $1200 to date. The money has spent on SLERA buttons ($155.00),
paper ($193.17), copying ($136.00), bus rentals ($210.00), Ideas Forum ($35.07), annual Post Office box rent ($8.00)
and, finally a $20.00 gift certificate at Bradley and Wall to the bus driver who drove folks to Old Saybrook
after the Pep Rally when the train left without them! This leaves a balance of $442.76 and we think we will
need another $600 to complete the postcard mailing and close out this campaign. Speaking of which, if any
of you want SLE buttons and memberships (selling for $5.00), they’re available on most trains. Just ask your train representatives.
DANBURY LINE SAVED? FIGHT FOR MASS TRANSIT CONTINUES
(Darien - Thurs. March 20, 1997): "News reports that Danbury area politicians have 'saved' their line from elimination under the Rowland budget are premature, parochial politics at their worst," says Jim Cameron, Vice Chair of the Commuter Council.
"While GOP Representatives Boucher, Capiello and Scalzo say they have 'saved the Danbury branch' trains from the budget axe, they miss the bigger issue of preserving all three of the lines under attack by the Rowland administration. The council has asked them to support Waterbury and Shore Line East service as well as their local lines, and they have been reluctant to voice that support."
"Of greatest concern is the timing of their self-serving announcement. It comes just hours before this evening's public hearing in Danbury ( 6pm at the Danbury Railway Museum ) because it may give commuters false hope and discourage their attendance at this important Legislative public hearing."
"The Commuter Council will testify tonight, both in Danbury and in Naugatuck ( Town Hall 7pm ), in support of all three threatened lines. If Rep.'s Boucher, Capiello and Scalzo really believe in mass transit, we'd love to hear them persuade their Governor to not only preserve, but expand, rail service."