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Officials Unveil CTFastrak Buses

by Hugh McQuaid | Aug 19, 2014 5:30am
(20) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Transportation

Hugh McQuaid Photo

CTfastrak bus

State officials unveiled the first in a fleet of new buses, which will soon carry passengers along a dedicated bus route running from Hartford to New Britain.

The project, known as CTfastrak, is expected to begin operation sometime in March and will have a fleet of about 70 new buses to compliment the state’s existing bus fleet. State Transportation Commissioner James Redeker and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman showed off the first completed bus at a press conference Monday outside the State Capitol.

The buses are electric hybrid vehicles and will range in size from 30 feet to 40 feet. The green and gray bus at Monday’s press conference was of the 40-foot variety, which Redeker said will seat 35 passengers and will have space for about 15 people to stand.

Wyman said the project is a step in the right direction for Connecticut’s public transit system and would help to ease highway gridlock and greenhouse gas emissions.

Hugh McQuaid Photo “Public transit is widely successful in so many parts of our country, but in Connecticut we haven’t yet done all the things we need to modernize and update our system. Connecticut’s first bus-rapid-transit project changes that,” Wyman said.

The 9.4-mile bus corridor will have 11 stations between the two cities and is funded by $455 million in federal funds and $112 million from the state. Proponents say the transit system will encourage economic development along its route.

Hugh McQuaid Photo Opponents say the project is a waste of money because it will be under-utilized. Early in its construction, critics labeled the project as “the busway to nowhere.” One of those critics, Sen. Joseph Markley, R-Southington, attended Monday’s press conference and spoke to reporters after officials opened the bus for attendees to board and take a look around.

“I think you’ve got more people on that bus right now than you are ever going to see once they start running it,” he said. “There’s no demand to go from New Britain to Hartford. We run a bus already, twice an hour . . . I’ve ridden that bus repeatedly. There’s a dozen people — 15 people on it. Now we’re going to be running 20 buses an hour.”

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(20) Comments

posted by: shinningstars122 | August 19, 2014  5:53am

shinningstars122

Will the buses have WiFi? I am very excited to see rapid transit finally arrive in northern CT.

The bike trail will also be very popular as well. Will these buses be able to carry bicycles as well?

posted by: Matt from CT | August 19, 2014  6:07am

>and would help to ease highway
>gridlock

Not a single bit.

Even well planned, successful mass transit systems don’t.

It’s the same reason why building additional lanes does not ease highway congestion—add the capacity, people will alter their lifestyles to fill it. 

Move some cars off I-84 to the busway, other cars will fill I-84 that would have otherwise chosen not to live/work/shop/play where they need to use it.

Mass transit, were appropriate, can provide important options.  But let’s understand the science and policy behind it.

Oh wait, these are politicians.  They’ll build a half billion dollar busway to encourage high density development simultaneously with giving Jackson Labs $300M to build at a car-dependent location that isn’t practical to service by mass transit in a nearby town.

It’s just about spending our money and green-washing it.  Not spending it wisely, coherently, and as part of an overall plan.

posted by: art vandelay | August 19, 2014  9:15am

art vandelay

Who in their right mind will ride a bus 9.4 miles with 11 stops. Senator Markley is 100% correct.  From what I’ve been told parking will NOT be free.  Is the state going to subsidize New Britain, Newington, West Hartford & Hartford for increased patrols of the parking lots?  The money would have been much better spent improving the 120 year old Metro North tracks.

posted by: jim black | August 19, 2014  9:15am

The only way there will be ridership is if they move the Hartford welfare office to New Britain and the New Britain office to Hartford. Wouldn’t be suprised if that was the plan.

posted by: Hugh McQuaid | August 19, 2014  10:07am

Hugh McQuaid

@shinningstars, Redeker said the buses will have WiFi.

posted by: ASTANVET | August 19, 2014  12:04pm

I dare anyone to just check out normal ridership on busses traveling around Connecticut - I have - What I see (mostly) are two and three people on busses that drive along all day.  That doesn’t seem to be the cost effective utopian commuting dream that is presented in boondoggles like this.  20 busses an hour, with an employee cost alone of usually around 20 per hour, plus the employer cost of that, so double it 40 per hour, plus maintenance, fuel, roadway maintenance - I wonder what the break-even point is for the project.  How many people need to ride the bus (ALL THE STATE BUSSES) in order to make them cost effective?  A question that will undoubtedly go unanswered by the “investigative” reporting we have in the state.  Does anyone care if mass transit works in this state or how to make it work, or do they just not care because it is a liberal platform?

posted by: dano860 | August 19, 2014  12:06pm

Matt, the new UCONN Technology Park is creating the same situation. The sad part there is that Rt 195 can’t handle the traffic volume today.
The easiest traffic calming thing to do would be to eliminate the ‘choke’ effect caused by narrow bridges and the sports car section through Hartford. The old beltway plan should be dragged out and implemented. Rt.s 291, 691, 9, 91, 3 and 84 are all set for connecting.
Traveling the highways within Ct’s borders is a travesty. Route 84 from Vernon to Danbury is awful. When you return from a trip through Pa. N.J. and N.Y. getting into Ct causes angst and grief at certain times of the day. I must admit that I plan my trips so that I leave in the early A.M. and return in the later P.M.
I never travel Rt 95 unless it’s after 9 P.M. and before 5 A.M.
This busway will be fun to watch. Let’s hope it works, we waste enough money in this State. You would think we are the USPS, losing billions every 6 months.

posted by: art vandelay | August 19, 2014  12:46pm

art vandelay

@Dano860,
I don’t see how the busway will ever work or become profitable. Pay parking lots (no E-Z Pass) Eleven stops and a final drop off in a remote section of Hartford.
In the 50’s and early 60’s busses were operated by private sector companies. CR&L was an offshoot of the old trolly system. By the 60’s they were all loosing money and ceased operations.  Gengris of the automobile dealership destination purchased the most profitable routes. He then bundled them and sold his company to the state at a huge profit.  It’s how the state got into the bus business.  It’s been a looser ever since.  Unionized drivers, unprofitable routes, you get the gist.  Now the taxpayers are stuck with it.
Traffic on 84 could be eliminated through Hartford if Rt 9 in Farmington could be connected to I-291 in Windsor. It was the original plan but the “greenies” in Farmington & West Hartford tied it up in the courts.  You’re correct.  Money from the Busway would have been better spent building new roads.

posted by: wmwallace | August 19, 2014  9:39pm

another waste of taxpayers dollars. I would have preferred light rail but not from New Britain to Hartford only

posted by: shinningstars122 | August 20, 2014  6:04am

shinningstars122

I think most poster here are not considering the preferences of ” millennials.”

First many prefer to live in an urban environment and NOT own a car.

Along this area there is plenty of opportunities, especially in hard hittin’ New Britain and Park Rd in Elmwood, for young entrepreneurial start ups to be seeded.

The busway will give you easy and quick access to many areas fast.

Plus many kids from CCSU will be able to use it to go hang out in Hartford.

Their web site is pretty good and I think the key to making this a success is promoting it to the right demographics of riders, both workers and folks who will come to Hartford for entertainment as well as areas like Westfarms etc.

http://www.ctfastrak.com/faqs

I am sorry @ArtVandelay but continuing RT. 9 will not solve the problem.

The reason you also cite why small private bus and trolley companies failed was due to the powerful automobile lobby.

They got what we they wanted and enjoy 50 years of dominance. It is time the US become more like Europe and now China in developing mass transit in it urban areas.

CT has to entice business to start up in high traffic areas…the suburb will not be the place most people moving forward will choose to live.

I mean even Dallas Texas is supporting it!
http://res.dallasnews.com/interactives/dart-orange-line/

posted by: ASTANVET | August 20, 2014  10:01am

Shinningstars122 - what will the unsubsidized cost need to be per rider (one way) to keep this enterprise solvent?  Or should the good tax payers of putnam pay to keep this thing running out of benevolence?

posted by: CTfastrak | August 20, 2014  10:15am

@shinningstars122:

Thanks for your questions! All CTfastrak buses will have WiFi on board, and all buses will be able to accommodate bicycles, both inside the bus and outside on bike racks. The stations will have bike racks, too.

posted by: Joebigjoe | August 20, 2014  10:33am

Wow Shiningstars, are you on something legal because I would like some. I’ve never seen the world through glasses so rose colored.

I’m 53, grew up in Hartford mostly and know the people, the behaviors, and the area like the back of my hand. This busway won’t work. It might be exciting in the beginning but after reality sets in forget it. In inclement weather you’ll see an uptick for sure but this will fail by all reasonable measures.

posted by: windsorct111 | August 20, 2014  11:42am

You know what’s cool about this new bus transit system? I went on these types of buses in other cities. and for this new central Connecticut you will be able to ride your bike right into the buses. its level platform boarding. also these ctfaastrack buses will have wifi so I can do work on the bus. finally this will be a good way to go to work. I will be commuting from Hartford to Waterbury for a while.

posted by: GuilfordResident | August 20, 2014  11:58am

I spent a very short period of time working in Vancouver. They have bikeways all over the place. I can count the number of bikers I saw using them on my fairy-unicorn’s horn. I did have to leave my car at the shop and by luck took a shoreline bus from Branford to Guilford. There were 5 people on it. I paid $1.50 I think. I don’t see how these bus routes ever break even. If people want to mass-commute, try Uber or something else that won’t cost me higher taxes.

posted by: art vandelay | August 20, 2014  12:01pm

art vandelay

Another factor critical to the success of CTFastTrack is ridership to and from Civic Center events.  Are people willing to walk with their families from the Hartford train station to the Civic Center?  I doubt it. It’s still easier to drive & park.  Same scenario got for daily commuters to the Hartford, Aetna & Trumbull St. The situation compounds itself once winter sets in.

posted by: art vandelay | August 20, 2014  12:08pm

art vandelay

@Shiningstar122,
I agree.  The automobile lobby was a factor to the demise of the trolly system in Connecticut & elsewhere.  LA ‘s Freeway System is a perfect example.
The main factor however was mass production and making the automobile affordable to the masses. Personal transportation be it horse, buggy or whatever is far superior to mass transit unless you live in a large metropolitan city like New York or Boston.
My suggestion to you is that if you admire what Europe & China have done with there transportation systems, why don’t you move there.  Mass transit works in major cities.  It does not work in small cities like the ones in Connecticut.

posted by: windsorct111 | August 20, 2014  12:30pm

I just looked at the ctfastrack web site and saw the regular price is $1.50 for travel. I think that’s the cheapest price I have ever seen for travel on a train or bus. I also saw on the website how its all prepaid so you do not need to wait in a line. all of these things will be great for travel. I think people in Connecticut just need to try and once and they will like it.

posted by: GBear423 | August 20, 2014  1:06pm

GBear423

Honestly hope there is a reasonable demand for this.  the tech is good, it has conveniences for our modern times and the bike racks are great idea.  I do not want to see it fail. fingers crossed!  I do agree with Winter demand, nobody wants to drive then, make sure to treat the drivers with kindness, its a tough job!

posted by: shinningstars122 | August 22, 2014  10:54am

shinningstars122

@ArtVandelay OMG!! When is the last time you were even in Hartford proper?

To walk from Union Station to the Civic Center is easier than trying to cross New Britain Avenue at Westfarms.

Granted the majority of that short 3 minute walk is past parking lots but believe it or not it is safe…even for grumpy old men.