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Environment

Hartford-New Britain Busway Launches, Seeking to Nudge Drivers Toward Transit

State officials say the busway will be a quick, reliable alternative to cars.

CTfastrack begins service this weekend. The 9.4 mile bus-only roadway runs from New Britain to Hartford, looking to lure some driving commuters to consider mass transit.

Governor Dannel Malloy, speaking at the CTfastrak opening ceremony on Friday in New Britain, said the busway marks the beginning of the 30-year, $100 billion transportation overhaul his administration is proposing for the state.

"What we’re doing today is marking not simply the build-out of this wonderful program, that quite frankly probably took too long to get built -- but I’m happy we got it built in our administration," Malloy said "But it is, as well, a down payment in what we need to do in the future across the state of Connecticut."

Malloy's office provided video below of officials gathering for Friday's event and riding the bus.

"This project is a breakthrough on faster jobs access for many in the region."<br><em>Lyle Wray</em>

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is estimating that the CTfastrak system will provide 16,000 rides a day by 2030, bringing commuters to universities, schools, and shopping centers. The cost for the project has been about $567 million.

State officials say the busway will be a quick, reliable and environmentally-friendly alternative to cars using I-84 and local roads. The route includes eleven stops, new bridges and streetscaping, and a multi-use trail alongside it.

Lyle Wray, executive director of Capitol Region Council of Governments, said in a statement that CTfastrak bypasses 60 percent of the congestion on I-84 West. "A half-mile walk or a short shuttle ride to the route will connect commuters to 116,000 jobs from New Britain to downtown Hartford," he said. "This project is a breakthrough on faster jobs access for many in the region."

Joe Gorczyca, eager to take the busway this weekend, said it will give him a chance to avoid the hassle of downtown Hartford parking. Listen to his comments below:

Critics call it a boondoggle that's taking money away from more important transportation projects. The federal government is shouldering most of the cost, with about $112 million funded by the state.

Supporters say the busway will also boost the state economy by spurring commercial and residential growth along the route.

IMG_9886.jpg
Credit Ryan King / WNPR
Spectators visit the New Britain CTfastrak station at the busway's opening ceremony on Friday.

CTfastrak opens for public ridership on Saturday, March 28, with the weekday commuter schedule beginning on Monday, March 30.

For nine days, riders will be able to try the new service for free. Regular fares start on April 6.

Information about service schedules, fares, and parking is at CTfastrak.com.

Ryan King is an intern at WNPR. This report includes information from The Associated Press.

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