Transportation
8:43 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Officials Praise New Buses for CTfastrak

A view inside the bus.
A view inside the bus.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

CTfastrak, the bus-only corridor between Hartford and New Britain, won't start running until early 2015. On Monday, state transportation officials already started showing the buses off. 

DOT Commissioner James Redeker stood in front of a big, new 40-foot hybrid-diesel-electric bus, and spoke of the new service. "We are on schedule with the delivery of our buses and our fleet," he said. "Today is an opportunity for all of you to take a look, to get inside, and to really cut the ribbon and send us on our way."

Watch CT-N's footage of the event below:

"Who's going from Hartford to New Britain? Well, not very many people. It doesn't matter. That's not the issue."
Lyle Wray

Lyle Wray, executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments, said the new line will have a lot of advantages. It will reduce traffic congestion, spur development around the bus stops, and will be good for the environment, he said.

"People always say, who's going from Hartford to New Britain? Well, not very many people," Wray said. "It doesn't matter. That's not the issue. You have a 150,000-person employment corridor between Hartford and New Britain, and it's congested... It's a mess. We have many places on that 150,000 employment corridor where transit will be very successful: getting employees to and from West Farms Mall, getting employees to and from Blue Back Square, getting employees to and from UConn Dempsey Hospital and the medical arts around it, and on, and on, and on."

State Sen. Joe Markley opposes the busway.
State Sen. Joe Markley opposes the busway.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Not everyone is as enthusiastic. Joe Markley, a state senator from Southington, said the whole thing is a waste of money. He is one of the people saying there's no demand.

"I think once they start running them, they're going to be running empty," Markley said. "I don't think there's a demand for ridership between New Britain and Hartford. We run two buses an hour currently, [at] $1.25 round trip. I've been on that bus repeatedly. I mean, there's ten, 12, 15 people on it. Now we're going to be running 20 buses an hour on a $600 million busway. I think it's going to look like a tremendous flop down the road."

Markley said there are better ways to spend money on mass transit in the state, like in Fairfield County.

Watch an older video of Markley below voicing concerns about the busway route and its proximity to homeowners: