Sunday, April 22, 2018

Heard on Main: Big Cuts, Less Service for Area Buses

The Evening Stroll

Our after-dinner walk on Main Street is usually punctuated by nods and hellos to the locals we pass, and the occasional "Good Evening".   Sometimes we chat with Anne Marie if she's standing outside the Buttonwood Tree greeting patrons arriving for a show, or with Rob at Tschudin Chocolates if he's got a break between customers.  Fred Carroll might be out sweeping sidewalks or dispensing art (he's our local Cartoonist Laureate, and lately, he frequents Perk on Main, if you want a dose of philosophy and humor about this tiny town.) 

Last night, a Main Street regular - Mark Barcomb -  pulled me aside and asked if I knew about the changes coming up at Middletown Area Transit.  There's a proposal to raise bus fares and cut services and there's a city meeting coming up - could I let people know?

I said I would.

Cuts to Bus Service

Last year, Middletown Area Transit proposed a big cut in services, and the city stepped in, nixing the service cuts and prompting a forced turnover in leadership at MAT (The Courant wrote about it here).  There's now a new proposal - to raise bus fare from $1.75 to $2 and make cuts to night and Saturday service, and reducing service to Westlake, Portland/East Hampton, Walmart in Cromwell, and the Meriden Train Station.  There's a public hearing on Wednesday, April 25 from 5 to 6 pm at the Council Chambers at City Hall.   The flyer, posted on MAT's facebook page, is below. 

File this one under "I" for Irony

One of the proposed cuts is to the MLink line, which is the bus between Middletown and the Meriden Train Station.  Currently the station only serves Amtrak lines, but that's about to change.  On June 16, 2018, the long-awaited Hartford Line will begin offering more frequent and speedier train service from Springfield to New Haven. This will be a huge increase in convenience for people who want to get from Middletown to New York or Boston - and also a reduction in price from current methods. The new train station in Meriden includes lots of parking but for folks who don't drive, the MLink bus is the cheapest alternative.   So the proposed cuts to the bus service come right when demand should be increasing.  (The new train has drawn at least one proposal to expand the MLink - not cut it.)

Will someone please write about this?!

The Middletown Eye would welcome input from anyone who wants to look into all this and do a piece on how things are going under new leadership at Middletown Area Transit and what prompted these proposals.  Heck, we'd be glad to read more about it in the Hartford Courant or Middletown Press too - or even the Middletown Insider.

Even though our current bus service is less than it could be, it's a vital service for people who don't or can't drive.  Just last month it seemed like DOT had plenty of money for projects in Middletown...maybe they could use some of that for the bus system!

Click on the image to see a bigger version of the flyer about the meeting:


Todd Berch said...

This seems to be a continuation of the issues from last year yet still unresolved.
Perhaps the board can elaborate on all the shortcomings stemming from last year and the plan going forward and hopefully prior meting minutes could be reflective of the boards awareness/direction to resolve issues.

Anonymous said...

I suspect state level cuts and not local leadership is the culprit. As of a December 2017 CT Mirror article, state subsidies were being cut by a minimum of 5 percent and have likely grown

Anonymous said...

I've never seen any of the MAT buses even half full. Perhaps we need to consider using shuttle size buses

Anonymous said...

Totally and fully agree......Anonymous said...
I've never seen any of the MAT buses even half full. Perhaps we need to consider using shuttle size buses

April 23, 2018 at 8:52 PM

Mr. Fixit said...

Are there any statistics re the utilization (efficiency) of MAT Bus services? Something along the lines of seating-capacity times miles on a given route per day vs actual seats used times the miles on a given route per day.

I suspect 16 passenger vans would be more efficient transports than these large and seemingly underutilized buses; operating costs would be reduced significantly (IMHO)

Anonymous said...

Buses should be replaced with bicycles and electric vehicles people can borrow for free.