Some Seniors Don't Want Free Rides

<p>Free off-peak transportation on buses and trains in Connecticut has generated interest and support, but some seniors would prefer that greater funding be devoted to existing dial-a-ride services that are already in place across the state.</p>
May 14, 2007, 5am PDT | davarnado
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"Senator Donald E. Williams, the president pro tem of the Connecticut State Senate, introduced a measure now before the state's General Assembly that would let elderly residents ride free on trains and buses during off-peak hours."

"Yet the Connecticut chapter of AARP is not lobbying for the free ride - "It wasn't our proposal," said John Erlingheuser, the group's advocacy director - preferring that the money to go toward shoring up a different program already in place."

"That, and the opposition of a statewide commuter organization, has not stopped Mr. Williams...from pressing ahead on the measure which would cost the state an estimated $9.7 million a year."

"For now, Senator Williams shows little sign of retreating. In his view, offering the state's 480,000 elderly residents a powerful incentive to board buses and trains is "a natural idea" that helps maintain the independence of people who have given up driving and eases traffic congestion."

"In addition, he said that by having more elderly residents using the trains and buses, "We build a stronger and more powerful constituency for improvement and expansion of public transportation."

Thanks to D. A. Varnado, AICP

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Published on Sunday, May 13, 2007 in The New York Times
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