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Greenwich Commuters Brace for Higher Train Fares

GREENWICH, Conn. – Daily Greenwich commuter Maurice Jones said the increases are a sign of the times as Metro-North Railroad prepares to raise its fares on the New Haven Line for the first time in seven years on Jan. 1.

“I do weekly and monthly [fare packages] and I mean, I’ll have to just pay it,” said Jones. “The economy is hard right now. I just don’t understand why they’d increase the fares.”

Ticket costs will rise 4 percent each year for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Those increases are in addition to the 1.25 percent increase in 2012 and 1 percent that will be added each year until 2018 to help pay for the upgraded M-8 rail cars now going into service.

“We have held the line on fare increases since Jan. 1, 2005,” Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said Friday. “During that time, however, operating expenses grew by 12 percent due to inflation. I believe it is now reasonable to impose some modest increases.”

For example, monthly passes from Greenwich to Grand Central will rise from $237 to $250 when the new year arrives. One-way peak prices will increase from $10.75 to $11.25. Fares at Cos Cob, Riverside and Old Greenwich will be the same.

“It’s going to affect everyone, but people are going to have to cut back on other expenses,” said Jones. “Instead of picking up that coffee in the morning, that money will go toward a train ticket.”

Occasional riders said they wouldn’t be affected by the fifty-cent increase for a single ride. “I don’t take [the train] enough, and when I do take it, it’s for work and comes at the cost of the company,” Lauren Medici said Tuesday. “I’m sure daily commuters will really be impacted though.”

Metro-North and the Department of Transportation originally planned to raise fares by 16.4 percent starting Nov. 1. But after hearing commuter complaints at a series of public hearings this summer - and with Connecticut’s budget now more secure - the state settled on a 12 percent increase over three years.

“While operating costs continue to go up, now that state budget issues have been resolved, we can live with something less from the fare box,” Redeker said. “I am also pleased that we will not have to reduce any service.”

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