Sen. Murphy Seeks Feedback From "Fed Up" Car Commuters

Sen. Murphy used Periscope to livestream his car ride on I-95 from Milford to Norwalk.

By:  Ryan Caron King
WNPR

Getting around by car is the most common way people get to work and back in Connecticut -- and the state's infrastructure isn't set up as well as it could be to support the volume. For many drivers, that means a challenging commute every day.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy announced this week he’s launching a campaign to gather feedback from commuters around the state about their daily ride to work.

The initiative is called "Fed Up," and asks car and rail commuters why they’re frustrated with Connecticut’s traffic and transportation infrastructure.

On Thursday, Murphy used Periscope to livestream his car ride on I-95 from Milford to Norwalk. The trip took about an hour, and he used the extra time in traffic to answer questions from Twitter users and share some of the commuter stories his office has received.

From the passenger seat, Murphy addressed issues that fuel highway congestion, such as cost of living and highway freight transportation.

One Periscope viewer asked, using an analogy often cited by critics of highway widening, “Isn’t widening highways like buying bigger pants to take care of obesity?”

Murphy responded that highway widening would only be effective when combined with other initiatives, such as moving freight off of the highway and onto trains and ships on Long Island Sound.

“A highway that was built for 50,000 cars has to be widened in order to deal with what today is 150,000,” Murphy said.

Decreasing highway freight traffic will be challenging, Murphy said, because right now, most trains are used for commuting, and there is a limited number of deep water ports for freight transport on the Sound.

The senator suggested that raising the federal gas tax would help fund these projects, and said that Connecticut gets back more from the tax than the state sends to Washington.

“1993 was the last time we raised the gas tax…So we’re collecting the same amount of money to run our transportation system as we did 22 years ago,” Murphy said.

Murphy also voiced support for improving and expanding Metro-North branch lines in the state. Last month, he launched a survey asking Metro-North passengers to share their experiences along the Waterbury Branch Rail Line.

As his Periscope session ended, Murphy said he was probably going to be late for his next appointment at a school in Norwalk. The senator’s car ended up sitting in traffic for 30 minutes only one town over from his destination.