If Connecticut learned nothing else from the blizzard that sat on the state last weekend, it should have discerned the need for transportation alternatives. When the roads are narrower, rush hour goes from bad dream to nightmare. Time and productivity are wasted, people get frazzled, driving courtesy is severely tested.
Public policy should encourage the use of buses and trains. And yet, it so often doesn't. Two examples:
Metro-North rail commuters complain that when the railroad cancels service, riders holding weekly or monthly tickets cannot get a credit or refund.
Jim Cameron of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council says his group has been trying for two years to get this straightened out, but has been told by the railroad and the state Department of Transportation that refunds or credits would be impossible to administer. C'mon. If someone has a seven-day ticket and there was no service for four days, as just happened on the Waterbury branch line, how hard would it be to honor the ticket for an additional four days? What other business doesn't offer a refund when it fails to deliver the service?
State Rep. Gail Lavielle of Wilton has introduced a bill that would extend weekly and monthly commuter passes any time train service is out for more than 48 hours. It is a shame to have to legislate good customer service, but so be it.
In his budget message, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed raising local bus fares from $1.25 to $1.50. If Mr. Malloy took the bus to work, he would notice that most of his fellow passengers were students, seniors and low-income workers, who will feel the hit. They are an easy target because they are not organized or powerful. But good policy should encourage people to use buses and charge drivers a little more for the privilege of driving. If more revenue is needed from the transportation sector, and it is, have the guts to raise the gas tax.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times