State officials say federal requirements forced the end of a twelve-month pilot program, and that the state doesn’t have the funding to continue providing free fares with the end of federal assistance.

2 minute read

April 20, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

CTtransit bus driving through snowy street in Norwalk, Connecticut

Miro Vrlik Photography / CTtransit bus in Norwalk, Connecticut

“After a year of free rides, CTtransit and other public transit buses ended a yearlong fare-free transit program originally introduced to expedite boarding during the COVID pandemic and help residents financially during tough economic times.” Writing for Connecticut Public Radio, Chris Polansky investigates the reasons why.

According to the state’s governor, “the federal government forced the popular program to expire” by mandating an equity study before free fares can resume. A spokesperson for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) said “Setting fares is a local – and in this case, state – decision,” but that the equity analysis, a “routine activity,” is indeed required to continue a fare-free program past twelve months.

The article details the back-and-forth between state DOT officials, the governor’s office, and state lawmakers. While lawmakers say a fare-free program isn’t possible without federal dollars and would lead to service reductions, “advocates for free transit service point to a projected better-than-$200 million surplus in the state’s Special Transportation Fund they believe could be used to cover that cost and keep the program rolling.”

Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said “funding the program would create a ‘significant hole’ in the STF [Special Transportation Fund], leaving it in the red a few years from now.” Governor Lamont’s office says it “remains committed to working with all stakeholders to increase service and ridership in a way that is accessible and fair to all.”

Tuesday, April 18, 2023 in Connecticut Public Radio

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Close-up of maroon California 'Clean Air Vehicle' carpool lane access sticker on the back bumper of a silver Tesla vehicle.

California EV Owners To Lose Carpool Lane Privilege

A program that began in 1999 to encourage more electric car ownership is set to expire next year without Congressional and state action.

April 2, 2024 - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Google street view of grassy lot next to brick church with elevated freeway on other side in Houston, Texas.

Houston Supportive Housing Development Sparks Debate

Critics say a proposed apartment building would negatively impact the neighborhood’s walkability.

April 12 - Houston Chronicle

Closed black wrought iron gate in front of gated residential community with large palm trees along sides of street.

Friday Funny: Gated Community Doubles Down

The Onion skewers suburbia.

April 12 - The Onion

Aerial view of Chicago with river in foreground.

‘Cut the Tape’ Report Takes Aim at Inefficiencies

A set of recommendations from the Chicago mayor’s office calls for streamlining city processes to stimulate more residential and commercial development.

April 12 - Block Club Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.