CTfastrak, the state’s first bus rapid transit, is transforming Connecticut by offering residents a convenient way to move between cities, attracting millennials and baby boomers, and stimulating millions of dollars in private investment around future stations. That’s why it was chosen for a 2015 Award of Excellence:
Starting a Revolution: Integration of Land Use and Transit
Recipients: State of Connecticut Department of Transportation, Capitol Region Council of Governments, Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency, Federal Transit Administration.
“The more convenient public transportation is, the more people will take advantage of it. Livable, walkable and ‘bike-able’ community development around and near transit stops and stations is what we are trying to achieve. Easy access means increasing ridership.”
James P. Redeker, Commissioner, CT Dept of Transportation
There is a strong and growing demand among millennials and baby boomers to live, work, learn and play in communities that are vibrant and walkable – where they can choose to not use a car. Mixed-use Main Street development around transit answers this demand. Unfortunately, the Hartford region is almost entirely dependent on automobiles, trucks, and highways for goods and passenger transport. The goal then, is to reduce our dependency by developing alternatives such as a good regional rapid transit network.
CTfastrak is the first and most important piece of a planned network, which will include the CTRail expansion between New Haven and Springfield, and future phases of CTfastrak to the east of Hartford. Funded with 80% federal funds, 20% state funds, CTfastrak’s total costs are expected to be $567 million. In addition to $454 million from the federal government ($275 million allocated by the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program), Connecticut’s contribution is $112 million. It has been estimated that the project has created 4,000 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs.
CTfastrak functions much like a rail line. The buses travel on their own road (guideway), separate from all other traffic. However, this system is more flexible than rail because buses can get on or off the guideway at intermediate points, or at the end of the line, and continue directly to other destinations away from the guideway itself.
The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system provides fast, reliable travel times in the corridor, regardless of traffic congestion on I-84. The system allows CTfastrak to transport riders from doorstep to destination, including express service from origins well beyond the limits of the exclusive 9.4 mile-long guideway that links Central Connecticut communities.
A total of 11 transit stations and approximately 28 new state-of-the-art environmentally-friendly buses serve CTfastrak. Vehicles are clean diesel-electric hybrids and the transit service replaces the need for thousands of daily automobile trips on Connecticut roads and highways. As a result, the CTfastrak system helps achieve better air quality and positive environmental goals. A new 5 mile multi-use trail runs along the southern half of the dedicated guideway, enabling residents to bike, run or walk to local destinations, as well as use the trail for recreation.
Major Accomplishments of CTfastrak:
- CTfastrak provides a projected bus city-to-city travel time of 20 minutes, compared with the existing CTTransit bus which takes between 42 and 52 minutes depending upon time of day. With a projected ridership of 16,000 daily, it increases peak hour highway travel speeds by 10% in the heavily congested New Britain-Hartford I-84 corridor. CTfastrak incorporates a circulator shuttle service from stations to the Central CT State University campus, and will improve access to Elmwood, WestFarms Mall and the UConn Health Center via additional services.
- Interest by developers in capitalizing on development opportunities along the CTfastrak route has stimulated millions of dollars in private investment around future stations. In downtown Hartford, major residential and mixed-use developments will help bring new residents downtown. In New Britain, a new Streetscape Master Plan, expected to get underway later this year, will help transform the areas around CTfastrak stations to make them more pedestrian and bike-friendly – and better connect riders with the city’s downtown. And West Hartford is expected to review TOD applications adjacent to its Elmwood and Flatbush stations.