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How do you get to the beach without a car? CT DOT has an answer.

Friends of Hammonasset
Creative Commons

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and with it summer travel. But without a car, it can feel like options are limited in Connecticut. That’s the case for 10% of households in the state that don’t have access to a car, according to data from National Equity Access.

State officials want people to know that a number of state parks are accessible by public transportation. They’re pushing Park Connect, a program from the departments of Transportation and Energy and Environmental Protection that helps residents understand how to get there.

The website features a series of maps that guide travelers from major Connecticut cities to the parks via train, bus, local transit, shuttles and in one instance, a trolley. Bus fare is free statewide until Dec. 1 thanks to legislation passed this session. ParkConnect takes residents the last mile from the bus station on free shuttles and local transit buses, and it claims to get all riders within a 10-minute walk of their desired endpoint. Trains in the state will still require fare.

Josh Morgan, spokesperson for the DOT, said “last year, there were over 3,000 passenger trips.” The program launched just before Memorial Day in 2021 as a way to get residents out in a COVID-safe way, he said. Only four parks were included last year.

The program carries passengers to state parks across southern Connecticut, including Sherwood Island in Westport, Osbornedale State Park in Derby, Indian Well State Park in Shelton, Silver Sands in Milford, Fort Trumbull in New London, Sleeping Giant in Hamden, and Hammonasset Beach in Madison.

“Whether you want to go to the beach or explore some trails, there’s something there for everybody,” Morgan said.

Non-white people are three times more likely to live in an area that is nature-deprived, according to theCenter for American Progress. The Transit to Trails Act,national legislation that passed the House of Representatives last year, would address this disparity in access to green space for underserved communities.

The Connecticut DOT program runs through Labor Day weekend.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She loves hearing what you thought of her stories or story ideas you have so please email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org.

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