Over the next four years, Connecticut will welcome two new transit systems, the CTfastrak bus rapid transit system connecting New Britain and Hartford (set to open in 2014), and the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail line (set to open in 2016). The new lines will run through many areas that currently lack public transit other than local buses. For both systems to succeed, it will be critical that the areas around stations are oriented around transit — with zoning for mixed-use development and quality pedestrian and bicycle routes that connect the stations and surrounding neighborhoods.
The City of Hartford’s efforts, which benefited from a federal TIGER grant awarded last month, offer a good model. The grant will fund complete street improvements, including bus lanes, bike lanes, and pedestrian safety improvements on streets near Hartford’s Union Station, where both new services will stop. The city will also realign local bus routes to improve transfers and expand pedestrian wayfinding. The grant application notes that city, regional, and state leaders “are committed to bringing as many as 4,000 additional [housing] units downtown with an emphasis on transit orientation.”
State Rep. Sandy Nafis, D-Newington, says she won’t comment on the controversial CTfastrak busway project because her employer works on the project, a position that her GOP opponent in the 27th Assembly District race is calling “ridiculous.”