Murphy calls for long-term investment in transportation

By:  Scott Whipple
New Britain Herald

HARTFORD — One day after riding the new CTfastrak bus to New Britain, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy called on Congress to pass a long-term transportation funding bill before the current one expires next month.

With U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, Gov. Dannel Malloy and other state officials by his side at Union Station in Hartford on Thursday, Murphy said a multiyear investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure would “create immeasurable opportunities for economic development and job creation throughout Connecticut.”

His announcement came on National Stand Up 4 Transportation Day. Murphy has led several efforts to pass a new transportation financing plan. The measure would increase the amount of federal support Connecticut gets to improve its roads, bridges and rail lines.

During the last Congress, Murphy unveiled the first bipartisan proposal to shore up the Highway Trust Fund and improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure. He said his latest proposal would modernize decades-old transportation funding mechanisms and enact tax relief for American families and businesses.

“We can save Connecticut’s economy, address our liabilities and put a couple thousand people back on the job that desperately need work here in Connecticut,” he said.

Murphy added that needs across the Interstate 95 and Metro-North corridors can’t be met under current funding levels.

“We can’t afford to run a 2015 transportation system on 1993 dollars. If you want a 2015 transportation system, then you have to allocate 2015 tax dollars to solve the problem.”

On Wednesday he held a “Congress-on-your-bus” event on CTfastrak. Murphy chatted with commuters and got their comments about the new busway.

He was scheduled to ride the 4:15 p.m. bus roundtrip from the downtown New Britain station to Hartford but got caught in traffic and could only make it one-way from Hartford to New Britain. He rode with Michael Sanders, the state’s transportation transit and ridesharing administrator.

“I’m proud of the investment the federal government has made in this project, so I wanted to experience it for myself,” Murphy said. “It’s working wonderfully. People I talked to had positive reviews.”

Murphy said he spoke with a woman who used to get stuck in traffic and wasn’t able to see her son’s baseball games. Now CTfastrak gets her home to Hartford half an hour earlier in time to watch him play.
The rapid transit bus service, he said, is changing people’s lives.

“I talked to another woman who lives near the Newington station. She told me she is saving money because her employer subsidizes her bus pass. Now she doesn’t need to drive her car to and from work. Everybody I talked to was pleased with the busway. It may take three to five years to reach peak ridership, so we’re going to have to be patient for this to happen.”