A 62-foot CTfastrak bus at Downtown New Britain station in November 2015
|Service type||Bus rapid transit|
|Routes||5 local routes
4 express routes
|Daily ridership||12,081 (September 2016)|
|Fuel type||hybrid diesel-electric|
CTfastrak (constructed as the New Britain-Hartford Busway) is a regional bus rapid transit system currently operating between Union Station in Hartford and Downtown New Britain station in New Britain in central Connecticut. Operated by Connecticut Transit, it is the first bus rapid transit system in Connecticut and the second in New England after the MBTA Silver Line. CTfastrak opened on March 28, 2015 after fifteen years of planning and three years of construction.
CTfastrak services run on a 9.4-mile (15.1 km) dedicated busway which runs on an abandoned railroad right-of-way from Downtown New Britain to Newington Junction and alongside the active New Haven-Springfield Line from Newington Junction to downtown Hartford. Five local and four express routes operate along the busway and over on-street loops in downtown Hartford.
The CTfastrak busway is built on current and former railroad rights-of-way owned by the state and Amtrak, which allowed for the busway to be constructed with minimal taking of private land. From its north end in downtown Hartford to Newington Junction station, the busway occupies the north side of Amtrak's New Haven-Springfield Line right of way. That section of the line was once 4 tracks (shared by two separate railroads) and is now two tracks, with the busway occupying the third and fourth track slots. From Newington Junction to its south end at Downtown New Britain station, the busway follows the former Newington Secondary rail line.
Along much of its length, CTfastrak is constructed as a grade-separated limited-access highway. There are three at-grade crossings of local roads in New Britain, one in the Elmwood section of West Hartford, and one in Hartford (the latter two shared with the New Haven-Springfield Line). Buses can additionally enter and leave the busway via access roads at Downtown New Britain, East Street, Cedar Street, Newington Junction, and Sigourney Street stations and at the north end of the busway at Asylum Street in Hartford. A lengthy bridge was constructed over East Street (CT-175) and Allen Street in New Britain to eliminate former grade crossings.
From New Britain to Newington Junction, a fenced multi-use trail was constructed alongside the busway. Such a trail was not possible on the northern section, where all available room was needed for an access road for Amtrak maintenance vehicles.
The busway has ten stations of varying size. Downtown New Britain is a sprawling complex with numerous bus bays and large shelters to support transfers between CTfastrak services and local CT Transit services. Flatbush Avenue and Sigourney Street have large island platforms and off-busway loops. The remaining seven stations have basic side platforms and small shelters, with ramps to street level. All stations except East Main Street have center passing lanes to allow express buses to pass stopped local buses.
As of October 2015[update], nine CT Transit routes use the CTfastrak busway with a variety of stopping patterns. Eight of the nine routes terminate in three different on-street loops in downtown Hartford, while one runs through downtown to Manchester Community College.
The 101 Hartford/New Britain route provides high-frequency all-stops base service between New Britain and downtown Hartford, with headways of 7.5 minutes at peak, 12 minutes off-peak, and 20 minutes during the evening.
Four additional routes provide local stopping service on various sections of the busway:
- 102 Hartford/New Britain/Bristol
- 121 MCC / Hartford / UConn Health
- 128 Hartford / Westfarms-New Britain via Stanley Street
- 140 CCSU Shuttle
The 102 makes the same stops as the 101 at lower frequency and extends past New Britain to Bristol, Connecticut. The 121 uses the busway from Cedar Street to Sigourney Street, while the 128 uses the busway from Elmwood to Union Station. The 140 uses the busway from Cedar Street to East Street, with some trips additionally using the busway southbound from Newington Junction to East Street.
Four routes run express on the busway from Downtown New Britain to Sigourney Street, making no intermediate stops:
- 923 Bristol Express
- 924 Southington-Cheshire Express
- 925 Cheshire -Waterbury Express
- 928 Southington-Cheshire-Waterbury Express
Three additional routes - the 144, 153, and 161 - act as feeder services. They make stops at CTfastrak station platforms but do not run on the busway.
In 2001, a dedicated busway transit project was judged to be the most cost-effective way of relieving congestion on Interstate 84 between Hartford, West Hartford, Newington and New Britain. The 9.4-mile line was projected to cost $570 million, of which $400 million was funded by federal grants.
Preliminary work estimated a $10 million annual cost of running the various CTfastrak routes and new feeder services. In September 2015, CT Transit released that the yearly cost would be substantially higher at $17.5 million.
The Hartford Line will open commuter rail service between New Haven, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts via Hartford in early 2018. It will initially connect to CTfastrak at Union Station. Hartford Line stations adjacent to the CTfastrak stops at West Hartford (Flatbush Avenue) and Newington Junction are planned to open later.
The 2012 environmental assessment for the Hartford Line included preliminary plans for four infill stations including West Hartford and Newington Junction; although they were not yet funded, this would allow future planning and construction to be expedited. On January 12, 2015, the state announced that $5.75 million in funding would be made available for environmental mitigation and design at ten Hartford Line and New Haven Line stations, including design funding for Hartford Line platforms at West Hartford and Newington Junction.
Planning began in early 2016 for extending CTfastrak service to communities east of Hartford. The expansion would incorporate many of the BRT features of the existing system, including branded buses, large shelters, real-time information, and frequent all-day service. However, it would run on existing HOV lanes on I-84 and I-384 rather than a dedicated busway.
- "CTfastrak Ridership". Connecticut Bureau of Public Transportation. September 2016.
- "Greening the Community" (PDF). CTfastrak. 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "Despite Snow, Thousands of Riders, Many First-Timers, Experience CTfastrak on First Day of Service" (Press release). Connecticut Department of Transportation. 28 March 2015. Archived from the original on 11 September 2015.
- "CTfastrak Routes". CT Transit. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
- Simpson, Stan (30 June 2014). "DOT officials bullish on CTfastrak's future". Hartford Business Journal. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- "Station Site Plans". Connecticut Department of Transportation. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
- "CTfastrak System Map" (PDF). CT Transit. 2015. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
- U.S. Department Of Transportation Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Connecticut Department of Transportation. Executive Summary, New Britain-Hartford Busway. Dec 2001.
- "Busway: After More Than 12 Years, Work Starts In Earnest On Busway". tribunedigital-thecourant.
- "What Is CTfastrak". State of Connecticut. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
- LaPorte, Mike (5 November 2014). "The Busway to the Future: Insider to CTfastrak before Opening to Public". The Live Wire. Manchester Community College. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- "Fare Enforcement Begins on CTfastrak Bus Rapid Transit System: Riders Can Be Fined $75 Without Valid Proof Of Fare Payment" (Press release). Connecticut Department of Transportation. 23 June 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
- Stacom, Don; Kauffman, Matthew (28 September 2015). "Yearly Taxpayer Cost To Operate CTfastrak Jumps 75 Percent From Original Estimate". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
- CDM Smith. "Section 1.3: Station and Layover Site Concept Plans" (PDF). NEW HAVEN-HARTFORD-SPRINGFIELD LINE HIGH SPEED INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL PROJECT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT/ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT EVALUATION: Volume II Concept Design Drawings and Environmental Resource Graphics. Connecticut Department of Transportation. pp. 36,37. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- "GOV. MALLOY, BOND COMMISSION APPROVE DESIGN OF RAIL STATIONS ON HARTFORD AND NEW HAVEN LINES" (Press release). State of Connecticut. 12 January 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- "CTfastrak System Expansion" (PDF). CTfastrak. November 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- STACOM, DON. "DOT: Hartford To UConn Bus Route Could Cost $1.4 Million A Year". courant.com. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
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