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The wheels on the bus: bus transportation serves millions across CT

The wheels on the bus: bus transportation serves millions across CT

New Haven Independent, August 28, 2019

By CCM staff

In the 2011 documentary Urbanized, former Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa said that “an advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation.”

Appearing on this week’s episode of the Municipal Voice, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) podcast in collaboration with WNHHLP 103.5 FM, was Richard Andreski, Bureau Chief for Public Transportation in the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT).

His department oversees ferries, trains, and the statewide CTtransit bus system which provide public bus transportation across every region of Connecticut and delivers over 42 million rides annual to state residents, buses in Connecticut are very much of a work horse for us as rail transportation.

“People use the bus to Connecticut daily to get work from the outer edges of their region to the central city where they work, and huge number of people use the bus to get to school, both colleges and high schools, as well as to get to medical appointments,” Andreski said  

“Buses are critical to our economy,” he noted. “Not everyone can afford a car. It also boosts local community economic development, and any stigma about public transportation – especially bus transportation -- is going away as people see the benefits, the convenience and how it is less costly and less stressful than owning and driving a car.”  

Ridership up back to top

In Connecticut bus ridership is up over 5.4% according to the American Public Transportation Association, while ridership is down in so many other states. And millennials want to live in cities and be able to easily access public transportation. 

Part of that is the success of new initiatives like CTFasTrak between New Britain and Hartford, and the 913 Buckland-Storrs Express between UConn’s main campus in Hartford and the mall.

“Public transportation in Connecticut is thriving in many respects and increases in ridership are occurring,” Andreski emphasized. “We are looking at greater frequency on some routes, which we think will drive even greater ridership going forward.”

Other initiatives emphasized by the DOT official were using transit app that allow riders waiting for the bus to see how far the bus is away from their stop at any time; and having a GoCT Card which allows you to load any level of rider fares onto it and can be purchased at a wide variety of stores. “Thriving communities across the country have robust public transportation systems,” said Andreski. “We want to be very responsive to the needs of all our Connecticut communities.”

With the advance of mobile devices and the emergence of Uber and Lift, people have different expectations Connecticut needs to be on that same curve.

Getting to a place where everyone takes the public transportation, is going to need to change a lot of minds, but also seems like an inevitable stop on the line in Connecticut and elsewhere.