Blumenthal, Shore Line Commuters Celebrate Amtrak Decision To Continue Important Transit Program

Amtrak Had Unilaterally Imposed Fees on the State as a Condition to Continuing Program; Blumenthal Personally Intervened to Urge Amtrak to Continue Cross-Honoring Shore Line East Tickets on Acela Without Payment from ConnDOT

(Hartford, CT) –U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Shore Line commuters celebrated today Amtrak’s recent decision to continue to cross-honor Shore Line East tickets on its Acela trains.  

Currently, Amtrak accepts Shore Line East commuter tickets on both its Northeast Regional trains and Acela Express trains from New London to New Haven, a program that has provided affordable, flexible transit options for Shoreline commuters. Amtrak had informed commuters that it will no longer accept commuter tickets on its Acela train after September, a move strongly opposed by Blumenthal and the commuters who rely on this service.

 Shore Line East monthly passes from New London to New Haven cost $204 per month, and the standard single ticket price for the ride is $9.75. In contrast, the cheapest one-way ticket on the Acela is $55.

Blumenthal met with Shore Line commuters last week to discuss their concerns with the changes and to urge Amtrak to reverse its course. Less than a week later, Amtrak announced that it would continue the program “with proper reimbursement” from the Connecticut Department of Transportation—funding ConnDOT did not have. Arguing that Amtrak was not losing any revenue by allowing Shore Line commuters to ride in otherwise empty seats, Blumenthal convinced Amtrak to continue the program without additional compensation from ConnDOT.  Any additional fees on the state for this service would be subject to negotiations between Amtrak and ConnDOT without any loss of service.

"This welcome result is a victory for common sense and commuters.  Amtrak has commendably heeded our message that this commuting option is vital to eastern Connecticut residents who rely on it to reach work and return.   It's a critical transit lifeline, not a luxury.  I appreciate especially Amtrak President Joseph Boardman's personal involvement in response to my involvement.  Using rail rather than roads, commuters can save time, cut congestion, conserve energy, and raise quality of life,” Blumenthal said.

“I am very pleased for our Shore Line East monthly commuters who have been utilizing Acela train 2151 since 2003 for their daily commute.  AMTRAK's agreement to continue their original cross honoring program rather than terminate it in October is a win-win for everyone,” said Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James Redeker.

“We thank Senator Blumenthal for his commitment to and ongoing support for Amtrak, the Northeast Corridor and passenger rail,” said Mike DeCataldo, Amtrak General Manager of Northeast Corridor Operations.  “In partnership with the State of Connecticut and as proud operators of the Shore Line East commuter service, we appreciate the opportunity to provide such an important service to this community and continue to work with Commissioner Redeker and his team at ConnDOT on this issue.”

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Elizabeth Benton