HARTFORD – State Representative Whit Betts (R-78) testified in front of the Transportation Committee earlier this week on behalf of a House bill that would greatly reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars being used to subsidize the Hartford-New Britain Busway.
Rep. Betts and his fellow colleagues who support HB-5941, An Act Concerning the Operation of the New Britain-Hartford Busway, seek to not only reduce the $26 million in taxpayer subsidization, but also shrink the number of non-peak trips currently being offered due to a lack of ridership.
“People from Bristol and Plymouth repeatedly report seeing few, if any passengers on the CT Fast Trak and they ask me why are the buses operating so many hours if there aren’t any folks riding them and how can the state afford to pay millions of dollars for this service when CT has such serious fiscal problems,” Rep. Betts said.
For the first three years of its operation, the federal government subsidized approximately eighty-five percent of the total operating costs of Fastrak, which as of last year will now equate to approximately $26 million. At the end of March 2018, the Congestion Management and Air Quality (CMAQ) incentive program the state used for its subsidy expired. Upon expiration, Connecticut taxpayers were now required to cover the subsidized portion once covered by the federal government. This state subsidy comes in addition to the amount the state had previously been paying.
Given the upcoming multi-million dollar deficit expected, Rep. Betts asked that the Department of Transportation provide recommendations or implement program changes aimed at reducing the operating deficit and to subsequently assure Connecticut taxpayers the program is being run in a cost efficient manner.
The testimony submitted by Rep. Betts goes on to state that “in these tight fiscal times, we have to be more careful than ever with the limited resources we have. We simply cannot afford to spend money on a service that is not performing as well as it should and we have to ensure that the service isn’t expanded any further, at taxpayer cost, without legislative approval based on solid data. Unfortunately, the information that’s currently available is insufficient in making these necessary evaluations.”