Advocates joined Gov. Malloy, state officials, and national guests to discuss Connecticut’s public transportation future
Hartford, Conn.—On December 3, transportation advocates joined Governor Dannel P. Malloy and state officials at a public forum entitled “Getting to Work: Transportation and Jobs Access for the 21st Century.” Discussion focused on how public transportation can expand access to jobs and how technologies such as GPS bus trackers and smartphone apps can attract new riders.
Keynote speaker Robert Puentes, of the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution, kicked off the conversation about barriers and opportunities in public transit, both in Connecticut and nationwide. He was followed by two panel discussions with representatives from the public, private, and non-profit sectors around the region. Speakers included Christof Spieler of Reimagining Houston’s Bus Service, Anna M. Barry and Mike Sanders of ConnDOT, Don Shubert of the State of Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, Doug Hausladen of the City of New Haven, Anne I. Hayes of Travelers, Doug Holcomb of Greater Bridgeport Transit, Bill Villano of Workforce Alliance, and Lyle Wray of Capitol Region Council of Governments.
“Thanks to Governor Malloy and the State Legislature, Connecticut is on the cusp of an unprecedented transit transformation,” said Veronica Vanterpool, executive director for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “With CTfastrak, the tri-state region’s first bus rapid transit system with a dedicated busway, launching in spring 2015, and the Hartford Line commuter rail launch in 2016, residents, employees, businesses, and visitors will have more options beyond the car. Continued transit investment and increased support for mixed-use/income development and walkability around existing and new bus and rail hubs in places such as Stamford or Hartford are also essential to creating job and housing options for all.”
“Bus transportation is undergoing a revolution, with millennials now opting for transit and new technology transforming the reliability and quality of rides,” said Amanda Kennedy, Connecticut director of the Regional Plan Association.
“Innovative technologies like smartphone apps showing real-time bus and train locations help to get more drivers off our congested roads and into public transit,” said Roger Reynolds, director of climate, transportation, and land protection programs at Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “Increasing public transportation use has environmental benefits like decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing smog, as well. The joint environmental and economic benefits of public transportation are a powerful tool to bring more jobs and residents to our great state.”
“Connecticut faces many challenges, but one of the most urgent is the need for increased and sustainable transportation funding. Buses, railroads, bridges and roads are the lifeblood of our economy, and failure to adequately maintain the infrastructure and operations will have significant consequences in the future,” said Mary Tomolonius, executive director of Connecticut Association for Community Transportation. “CTfastrak is one of the most innovative projects Connecticut has developed. The linkages it creates will provide additional transit options which are vital to Connecticut’s growth.”
“Transit and jobs go hand-in-hand,” said Karen Burnaska, coordinator of the Transit for Connecticut Coalition. “Not only does investment in transit create jobs, but transit gets people to their jobs and gives employers a larger labor pool from which to choose. As Connecticut looks to improve its economy and increase its workforce, investment in transit is a critical piece of the overall puzzle.”
Sponsoring organizations included Capitol Region Council of Governments, Connecticut Association for Community Transportation, Connecticut Construction Industries Association, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Regional Plan Association, Transit for Connecticut, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign.