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Connecticut's Transportation Systems Lost Riders, But The Rest Of New England Was Worse

empty bus
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Public transit in Connecticut maintained higher ridership and smaller revenue loss during the pandemic compared to the rest of New England, according to a study released this week by The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Riley Sullivan, the author of the study, said federal stimulus funding offset the loss of riders in Connecticut and the rest of the region.

“The gaps that existed, that became apparent throughout the pandemic, were not quite as bad in Connecticut as they were in other states, but obviously any gap in revenue in such a system run on tight strings could have been fatal had their not been such large stimulus funding,” Sullivan said.

Stamford and Hartford only lost about 40% of riders compared to a nearly 75% loss on Boston’s MBTA — the largest transportation system in New England.

The study shows Connecticut’s Bridgeport to Stamford line received a combined stimulus of $200 million. Hartford received over $166 million.

“New England has really mirrored the rest of the country, commuter rates of ridership were down slightly more in the region than they were nationally, but they really have moved in sync with each other,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said if the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes through Congress, public transit in New England will be able to add improvements to entice riders.

In other parts of the region, a rail line in Maine saw the most dramatic drop in use — nearly 90%. The Green Mountain Transit Authority in Vermont lost over 1.9 million riders — a 50% decline. A bus system in New Hampshire lost 68% of its riders.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.