DARIEN - In lieu of cutting bus and rail service, Connecticut's Department of Transportation (DOT) is planning to raise fares 4 percent at the start of the next three calendar years.The fare increases would come on top of a 1.25 percent hike that lawmakers had already approved to help pay for new rail cars. Commuter advocate Jim Cameron calls this latest move an unnecessary tax on riders, and he blames the DOT for piggybacking off of a proposal by the governor to increase fares when a concessions deal with the unions to balance the budget fell through. Eventually, however, the deal was reached with the unions, but the fare increase plan remained. "Raising the fares on Metro-North discourages ridership and puts more people back on I-95, and that runs counter to everything the state's been trying to do for a decade," Cameron says. The DOT says since 2005, operating expenses have increased by 12 percent, and now is the time for a modest fare increase.