The proposed Metro-North Railroad fare increases for travel to and from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan “threaten Westport’s ability to retain its status as a vibrant suburban ‘community of choice’,” according to Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe.
The proposal would raise Metro-North rail fares by 10 percent beginning in July, followed by additional 5 percent increases in 2020 and 2021. Bus fares would increase by 25 cents.
In a letter to the state Department of Transportation, Marpe said that the proposed monthly fare from Westport’s two Metro-North stations would cost $431, up from $391, an increase of almost $500 per year, while fares for travel within New York state would not change.
By July 2021, residents would be paying $1,000 more per year than what they currently pay, Marpe wrote. “When this higher cost of commuting is added to the increased travel time and failing infrastructure concerns, it is understandable why families might choose Westchester County, Long Island or New Jersey over Fairfield County.”
Marpe said the town of Westport was also requesting that the DOT continue to reimburse localities for the bus add-on to rail tickets. Currently Westport receives $45 per Uniticket from the state, which includes the cost of the base fare plus $12 to compensate a discounted fare. The DOT is proposing to increase Uniticket fares from $33 to $37 per month.
“We would like to see the state funding also increase by the additional $4 so that we can continue to offer our riders a discounted fare,” Marpe said. “Otherwise, this increase would impact Westport’s ability to promote public transit due to reduced support for the Westport Transit District.”
Marpe also asked for a commitment and related action plan to increase rail passenger capacity on Metro-North and to reduce Westport to New York City travel times to one hour, “with a long-term goal to reduce that time even more over the coming decade.”