ISSUES

Transportation for All

Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure is crumbling, inefficient, unsustainable and exclusionary. Our patchwork public transportation system shuts low-income residents out of jobs, economic opportunity and crucial services like healthcare. Connecticut’s economy is stifled by the immense effort it takes to move from place to place without a car. Transportation is the largest contributor to Connecticut’s carbon footprint, a figure which can’t be separated from the fact that in Connecticut, 4 out of 5 adults commute to work by car. Transportation inequity is also an under-discussed aspect of residential segregation. If by some miracle a poor resident finds an affordable home in a wealthy suburb, they will still be burdened by the lack of transit options. Residential segregation will only end once transit is universal.

 

For decades, Connecticut’s transportation policy has propped up this inefficient, inequitable and polluting car-based system. In Governor Lamont’s CT2030 plan, he proposed more money to go to a single lane-widening project on I-95 in Bridgeport than to all buses in Connecticut. The same deference to driving is present in long-range plans put forward by the regional Council of Governments (COGs). In the Valley, the Waterbury Line has been neglected for far too long.

 

Justin believes in a different vision: a transportation system that is equally useful, accessible and affordable to every person in Connecticut; that is zero-carbon; and that creates thriving, economically dynamic regions.

 

Justin will:

1. Invest in modernizing and expanding service on the Waterbury Branch Line

  • The Waterbury Branch Line of Metro-North should be the public transportation spine of the Naugatuck Valley. Almost all of its stations are located within the 17th District. However, the line is plagued by infrequent, unreliable and ancient service. Even when the line is due for repairs, like this past spring, it is often left behind due to shifting political priorities. 

  • Justin knows that the Waterbury Line is crucial to the economic vibrancy and mobility of the Valley. Justin will fight to expand frequency of service in line with community needs, and ensure that non-traditional commuting hours are also serviced well. Justin will also make sure that the Waterbury Branch Line receives much needed, much faster, and often cheaper, new trains.

 

2. Prioritize public transportation

  • Transportation policy in CT focuses heavily on relieving highway congestion through highway repairs and expansion and to a certain extent, high-traffic trains like the New Haven Line. The 2018 Department of Transportation (DOT) capital budget proposed 62% of its funding for highways and just 36% for public transportation.

  • This thinking leaves out many low-income residents who rely on buses (the original CT2030 proposal only allocated 2.4% of its budget to buses) and less popular rail lines, while entrenching a high-consumption, car-based system.

  • It is widely understood by transportation experts that residents use the transportation system they are presented with. Justin believes in pivoting towards a public-transit dominated vision, rather than continue side-by-side investment in transit and highways. He will fight attempts to expand highways, and ensure that transportation spending is directed toward public transit.

 

3. Fully fund and expand bus service throughout the state

  • While buses are not as sexy as rail lines, they are the key to our transportation system. For context, the Hartford Line moves just under 2,000 people a day, while there are seven bus lines in New Haven alone that move that many people or more. Justin will fight to fully fund CT Transit bus service and add new routes. Justin also supports democratic, participatory planning processes for transportation planning.

  • Justin understands that frequency (under 15 minutes between buses at the minimum), reliability and coordination between other modes of transit are key to increasing ridership and improving quality of life. Many of these fixes can be made at low or no cost.

 

4. Modernize and expand rail service

  • Until recently, federal regulations prevented states from buying cheaper, more efficient and faster electric trains. Justin will ensure that new trains bought by the state are modern electric trains, not old (and often more expensive) push-pull diesel locomotives (which was proposed in CT2030).

  • Justin will initiate a study into CT’s, and more generally, the United States’, extraordinarily high rail construction costs. Compared to other countries, rail can cost several times more to construct, which severely hampers the fiscal viability of rail and light rail expansions.

  • Justin supports a New York - New Haven - Hartford - Boston regional commuter line. This line could reduce the current reliance on highways like I-95 and I-91. 

  • Justin will push for the creation of new rail, light rail and Bus Rapid Transit routes, such as a Manchester - East Hartford - Hartford light rail line and a Waterbury - New Britain - Berlin light rail line. These routes can be built on existing, abandoned rail tracks.

 

5. Build social housing near transit hubs and encourage transit-oriented development

  • When homes, stores and critical services are disconnected from transit, people usually have no option but to drive. Justin believes in the principle of transit-oriented development (TOD), which is locating housing and commercial districts near transit stops. Justin believes in building mixed-income social housing near transit hubs and essential services like grocery stores and pharmacies. You can find more on Justin’s plan for housing here.

  • To incentivize TOD, Justin will amend the affordable housing appeals list law (8-30g), to take transportation into account when calculating affordability.

 

6. Fund sustainable urbanism and complete streets projects.

  • For able-bodied residents, the most convenient and lowest carbon form of transportation is walking. Justin will provide funding for local communities to embrace walkable urban design and complete streets projects.

  • Justin is committed to developing bike, pedestrian and transit connections to bus and train stations, so that residents can more easily access the train and further reduce their carbon footprint. These connections are especially important for low-income residents who do not have access to a car.

  • Sustainable urbanism can often lead to rising real estate values and gentrification. Therefore, Justin believes we need to pair sustainable urbanism with permanently affordable, non-speculative models of housing like social housing and Community Land Trusts. You can find more on Justin’s plan for housing here.

 

7. Electrify the state’s fleet of buses, trains and cars

  • Justin supports current state efforts to electrify the state fleet of vehicles. Justin also believes that electric buses should be deployed in communities first in need and of color, which have been historically polluted by fossil fuel burning vehicles.

  • Justin believes that the electrification of vehicles needs to be accompanied by a Green New Deal, which invests in a just transition to a renewable energy grid.

 

8. Support the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI).

 

9. Require carbon to be priced as part of any state environmental impact evaluation

  • Transportation projects incur environmental costs, both through their embodied carbon and future expected carbon output. To account for these costs, Justin believes all infrastructure projects should be required to account for the social cost of carbon in their environmental impact evaluations. 

  • In this way, we can clearly identify environmentally destructive transportation projects — usually highway expansions— as well as environmentally friendly alternatives — like Bus Rapid Transit routes.

 

10. Eliminate fares for all public transit

  • Like libraries, museums and the postal service, public transportation is a public good that should be accessible to all. However, rising fares prevent many low-income people from being able to use public transit.

  • Justin strongly believes that all residents have a fundamental human right to transportation, regardless of whether they are poor or rich. Therefore, in the long term, Justin believes that all public transportation should be fare-free. 

  • Fare-free transit has been implemented successfully around the world, from Kansas City to Luxembourg. Justin also believes that a fare-free system will only improve access if it is implemented alongside the modernization and expansion of Connecticut’s public transportation system.

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Approved by Justin Farmer.

Paid for by JustinforCT, Laurie Sweet, Treasurer.

4 Prospect Ct
Hamden, CT 06517

JustinforCT@gmail.com

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