As our Connecticut legislators wrap up their “short session” this week, it’s time to assess their work: things accomplished, mixed messages sent and issues left unresolved.
Transportation is responsible for almost 30% of all air pollution in the US, more than half of that spewed by cars and trucks. The EPA cays Connecticut is in “severe non-compliance” with Federal clean air rules, especially Fairfield, New Haven and Middlesex counties. Our air literally stinks.
So while I’m happy the state
has finally committed to a Clean
Air Act, it will take until 2040 for many of its
provisions to take effect. That’s far
too long to keep endangering the health of our residents.
But while lawmakers do one
right thing, albeit too slowly, they send a very different message in the short
term. As I
predicted, they have continued a cut in
the gasoline tax until December 1st, shortly
after the November elections. What a
While commuters can save money
by driving, bus riders and rail commuters are losing their discounts: the free bus rides program will expire at the
end of June. Ridership on one busy
transit system jumped 17% when the free-fare plan was launched, taking cars and
their pollution off the road.
And if you mistakenly bought a
peak ticket on Metro-North during the many months when only off-peak fares were
required, good luck getting a refund.
Why did the railroad keep selling peak tickets during the pandemic? They said they couldn’t reprogram their
ticket machines. Really.
As legislators congratulate
themselves for cleaning up our state’s air (by 2040) they encourage further
driving, worsening our air pollution, while discouraging use of mass transit.
Yes, Connecticut still can’t
pass a law banning “open
containers” in cars despite an increase in deadly
accidents on our highways. Why? Because sports fans want to be able to
tailgate at stadium events.
Pandering to that vocal
minority has cost Connecticut $132 million in lost Federal aid over the last 20
years. Apparently, Washington is smarter
than we are and doesn’t want to subsidize stupidity.
What other weighty matters did
lawmakers find time to address while delaying air quality and ignoring public
safety? Well, they voted to name the
lollipop as our state’s official candy, answering a
petition by third-graders from Fairfield.
Yep, that’s quite a civics
lesson for the kids, wheezing from asthma as they enjoy their lollies.
Finally, a get-well greeting
to Stamford mayor Caroline Simmons who, along with her husband, has come
down with COVID.
She says she’s feeling well but I think she’s delirious. In her pre-recorded State of the City address
she said her team is studying the idea of a ferry
service to New York City.
Madame Mayor: As I
have written since 2005, that idea has been “studied”
over and over again and found wanting.
Why waste time and taxpayers’ money on a “fuelish” transportation plan
long ago rejected by industry experts.
Please apply cold compresses
to your fevered brow. And have a