Editorial: Train robbery

Train robberies are the stuff of movies — from the Old West to the 1963 heist of the Royal Mail train in Great Britain. Wilton commuters will be excused if they feel a connection every time they buy a monthly commutation ticket.

Rail fares are going up again, 6% in a few weeks — Dec. 1, to be exact. This is the fifth year in a row they have been raised. Monthly commuters are paying hundreds more per year than they paid five years ago. What will commuters get for shelling out more money?

One percent of the increase will pay for new M8 cars. That’s OK. But the other 5% is to fill a hole in the state Department of Transportation budget caused by the general, dire situation the entire state budget is in. That’s not OK. Service presumably will not be any faster or more reliable.

In fact, in a press release issued by the DOT, Commissioner James Redeker seemed to say the choice was between higher fares or a cut in service. There was nothing said about the funding alternative presented by Republican members of the legislature. One of those alternatives was to impose a sales tax on tickets to events at certain entertainment venues. No one likes a tax, but why not impose a sales tax on such tickets? These are optional, voluntary purchases made, presumably, with discretionary income. Paying to get to work is not. You pay tax on a pair of socks. Why not tickets to a concert?

The more expensive it is to take the train, the less likely people are to use it, which means more cars on overcrowded roads. Already, if two or more people travel together and pay the peak fare in and out of Grand Central, it is more expensive than driving into New York City and parking for a day.

The situation is made all the more vexing by a video released Tuesday (https://vimeo.com/186350019). The governor was touting a behemoth of a machine that is laying track to improve the rail line connecting New Haven, Hartford and Springfield. But there is no money for the New Haven line that is the busiest — and most expensive — rail line in the nation.