CFE and other transit advocates joined CT Department of Transportation for behind-the-scenes tour of new busway.
Last week, staff from Connecticut Fund for the Environment joined Transit for Connecticut, other transit advocates, and the Connecticut Department of Transportation on a bus tour of the new CTfastrak line from Hartford to New Britain. Tour guides Mike Sanders and Maureen Lawrence of CT DOT’s Transit division narrated each station, still in various stages of construction. Members of the media met before the tour and joined participants at designated stops along the route. FOX CT and the Waterbury Republican-American (behind paywall) covered the story.
The plan for CTfastrak began in 1999, with the design completed in 2006. Construction began in May 2012 and the service is expected to open next March. More than just a “roadway that takes people from point A to point B,” it’s a system that will link to other bus routes and train services in the region. Using transit reduces congestion, harmful air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, and supports responsible growth.
But the main focus of the tour was CTfastrak’s potential to bring transit oriented development (TOD) to the route. Participants saw the terraced Parkville station, designed with community input to serve as a community space—only one example of the potential for TOD. CTfastrak is just part of a wider network that will allow people to have faster and easier rides from as far away as Waterbury into the capital, with the added goal of spurring business and development along the way.
TOD is a strategy that combines economic growth and environmental protection by focusing housing, employment, amenities, and recreational opportunities within close proximity to transit stations, like those for CTfastrak. This would allow Connecticut to take advantage of the unparalleled opportunity to create jobs and develop our communities while preserving the remaining green New England landscape.
CTfastrak has lots of cool features—check some of them out below, and be sure to stay tuned for more updates on the busway!
- New Britain stop will be powered by solar panels
- Bikes will be allowed inside the bus, not just on front racks (this helps protect them from the elements!)
- All buses will have wireless internet available, and USB ports and charging stations will be on the longer-distance buses
- Stations will have LED signs to show when upcoming buses are due to arrive
- It’s projected that about 30% of riders will be former car users, helping to reduce road congestion and fossil fuel use
- Stations at Flatbush and Newington Junction can be connected to rail stations in the future
- At Flatbush, eight acres of wetlands will be restored
- For safety and security purposes, closed circuit TV surveillance will be at each station and along the route
- To speed up boarding, tickets must be purchased on the platform and then validated on the bus
- DOT is considering using existing buildings along the route to feature “official public art” and reduce graffiti
- “One seat rides” will let riders transfer from CTfastrak to many local and connecting routes; several routes will go from CTfastrak to places like shopping malls and medical facilities
Posted by Sarah Ganong, Media Coordinator at Connecticut Fund for the Environment