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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

CT advocates want public transit investments in state budget

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Monday, February 5, 2024   

In honor of Rosa Parks' birthday, Transit Equity Day is today.

Connecticut advocates are calling for greater investment in public transit. In particular, they want the General Assembly to allocate $3 million dollars in the state budget to make public buses free for K-12 students. Eligible students would need to show their student ID to receive a free fare.

Jay Stange, coordinator for Transport Hartford Academy, said it could help children who rely on public transit. He noted the pandemic highlighted the pressing issue.

"One of the things that we learned during the pandemic is that fare equity does make a big difference to ridership," Stange explained. "We'd like to see more people on the buses in Connecticut, and reducing fares -- or making fares free for the folks that need them most -- makes sense for increasing ridership."

He added fare equity goes hand in hand with increasing service on weekends and evenings, better bus stop infrastructure, and adding rapid routes. A free-fare pilot program during the pandemic boosted ridership for the year it was active. While advocates and many residents wanted to keep the program around, it ended last April. Not long after, ridership saw a steep decline and took some time to bounce back.

Along with helping Connecticut riders, these proposals can benefit the state's climate goals. The state aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030. Since the transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Connecticut, Stange emphasized it is an incentive for more people to ride buses.

"If we can get less people traveling through our cities in truck traffic, less people in single occupancy cars driving through our urban areas, then that will improve air quality for our residents who suffer from asthma," Stange pointed out.

Hartford residents are almost 2.5 times more likely to go to the emergency room for asthma compared to residents of nearby towns, according to Data Haven's 2023 Community Well-Being Index.


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