Transportation
7:44 am
Wed February 23, 2011

Debate Over Busway Heats Up

Connecticut’s Transportation Committee is considering a proposal to take funds designated for a New Britain to Hartford bus project and spend it on reinvigorating train service from Waterbury to Hartford. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports.

The “busway” project, as it’s known, is designed to reduce the congestion on Interstate 84 by building a separate 9.4 mile road just for busses. There would be elevated platforms, similar to a train station with service every three to six minutes during peak commuter hours.

But Michael Nicastro President and C.E.O. of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce says if the $570 million for a busway was spent on rail service it would include more communities and engage more commuters.

“Why would we just want these nine miles? Why wouldn’t we want to just extend the Waterbury line that exists today, from Bridgeport to Waterbury? Why not just reextend that again back to Hartford through Bristol and New Britain?"

Busway supporters say the busway and rail service should not be seen as mutually exclusive. Lyle Wray, Executive Director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments, who supports the bus project,says it’s designed to be expanded to other communities

“We expect twelve-minute service for express buses to Bristol, express busses to Waterbury, buses can loop out to events at C.C.S.U. and elsewhere.”

The Hartford City Council supports the project, as does Aetna, one of  the businesses where the bus would stop. Newington, which is included on the bus route, passed a resolution opposing the project, as did the Transportation Commission in Bristol.

For WNPR, I’m Nancy Cohen.