Most Yale students do not think of a daily commute as anything more than a trek up Science Hill. And while those students may have to endure wind chills and sore calves, others who reach their campus destinations via CT Transit have bigger worries.
CT Transit, the provider of public transit bus services in the greater Hartford, New Haven and Stamford metro areas, recently proposed service cutbacks that are causing anxiety among many public transit dependents.
“There is no other bus that goes to Route 80 in North Branford,” said Catherine Satula, associate administrator at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, who uses the bus service daily to get to her job. “I’ll have to start driving to work, but I don’t know where I’ll be able to park.”
Proposed cuts and service changes will affect the F, J and L routes, which serve East Haven and Branford; Cheshire, Hamden, Dixwell Avenue, and Waterbury; and North Branford and Foxon, respectively. Changes also affect the downtown commuter connection and the 26 express buses to Guilford and Madison.
At a public hearing last Thursday, many speakers rallied against the proposed elimination of the L bus that connects North Branford and East Haven’s Foxon neighborhood and New Haven’s Fair Haven Heights neighborhood to downtown New Haven.
“Why does the poor man always have to take the brunt of the cuts?” asked Mike Pylypiw of the Mount Carmel section of Hamden.
“These are basic needs,” Pylypiw said, pointing out that many bus riders depend on the buses to get to and from work. “We’re getting crumbs and now you’re trying to take those crumbs away.”
Sam Sullivan, who rides the F bus from Branford, said he objects to bus routes being cut at a time when Gov. John G. Rowland just received a raise.
“We think it’s no longer fair for you to take the buses from us,” Sullivan said. “You keep taking and taking. Hell, you’ve taken too much! Leave our buses alone. Find the cuts other places.”
Yvette Williams ’03 said she is one of several students who ride the J bus to Yale from Waterbury, where she lives. She said she hopes CT Transit will reconsider proposed cuts that would make the bus run on Saturdays only, every two hours.
“The J bus is my primary way of getting to New Haven, and the other public transportation options have very limited schedules and/or are expensive,” Williams said. “I would like to hope that this is considered before any changes are made to the J route.”
Transportation officials said the proposed cuts are the result of both the state’s tight budget this year and flagging service on some of the routes, including the L.
CT Transit General Manager David A. Lee said the L route, for instance, carries per hour only about one-third of the passengers of some of CT Transit’s other routes.
“Management will take into consideration the comments we’ve heard,” Lee said. “In each of our divisions there are changes that have gotten particular attention. Those we will give careful consideration to.”
CT Transit expects to make a recommendation to the state Department of Transportation as early as the end of this month and any changes would not be implemented before April, Lee said.
If the proposed cuts take place, Yale employees and students like Satula and Williams may have to rely on alternative transportation.
“Everyone’s really skeptical and it doesn’t look promising,” Satula said, adding that this is the second year CT Transit has threatened to make the cuts.
“I’d like to see Yale behind us,” Satula said.