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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

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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