Cuts to Shoreline East slash weekday service in half, wipes out - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Cuts to Shoreline East slash weekday service in half, wipes out weekend rides

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The DOT is proposing to make cuts to Shore Line East (WFSB) The DOT is proposing to make cuts to Shore Line East (WFSB)

There is a harsh reality for thousands of commuters as the state is threatening deep cuts to Shoreline East and to buses in southeastern Connecticut.

To put it in perspective, more than half of the service is on the chopping block.

These plans were laid out on Wednesday, and seeing the impact up close was sobering.

People's daily commutes are being affected and that means jobs are hanging in the balance because they won't have a way to get to work.

“It's an easy commute, walk up State Street and I’m at work in four minutes,” said Tommy Major, of New London. He said he’s been doing every work day on Shoreline East for the last three years.

However, on July 1, his train going to New Haven in the morning will run, but the one coming home at 7:06 p.m. won't, essentially making the train pointless for him and hundreds of his fellow riders.

“There's days where this train is completely packed,” Major said.

This and seven other Shoreline East departures could be eliminated as the Department of Transportation is forced to trim $60 million out of its budget, thanks to state's own budget problems.

The cuts to Shoreline East account for $20 million.

The plan cripples weekday service, slashing trains by more than half and the weekend schedule is wiped out entirely. In addition to that, fares are going up on both trains and buses.

“Definitely, they seem to be sacrificing New London and southeastern Connecticut for the better of the state,” said New London Mayor Michael Passero.

He said this comes at a time when ridership is growing and people were moving here partly because of the commuting options.

“At least we were building a service where you could connect to New Haven and we were building that ridership and we're threatened to lose all of that,” Passero said.

At the DOT meeting on Wednesday, frustrated residents likened the rail and bus services to a lifeline.

DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker says he hears them, but says if the DOT isn't funded, his hands are tied.

“These are compelling personal life impacts, but they should contact their legislator and let them know their preference, aligned with my preference, would be to find revenue to avoid these problems,” Redeker said.

So how will the DOT get funded? Commissioner Redeker says revenue can come in the form of sales tax, gas tax, oil company tax, motor vehicle, license registration fees, and a new car sales tax.

It's up to lawmakers to decide if and how they'll bridge the $60 million gap.

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