August 3, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
A downtown circulator bus is likely to be running for two of the
convention center's busiest months this fall, an effort that could
be a jump-start to a permanent bus service, state and federal officials
"We're going to get these things running for those two months
where we need it, and at the same time work on the permanent funding
for the operating budget," said Dean Pagani, spokesman for the
Capital City Economic Development Authority.
The downtown Hartford circulator would be a free service and would
hit the city's major cultural and hospitality sites. Under a tentative
plan, the route would include stops at the Connecticut Convention
Center, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the Civic Center, the
Goodwin Hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, Union Station, the Church
Street parking garage, the Hartford Hilton, the MAT Garage, the Crowne
Plaza Hotel, the Morgan Street Garage, the Marriott Downtown and
the convention center.
Although state legislators made the goal of a year-round circulator
a hard one to reach this year when they did not give CCEDA the funding
it requested, federal legislators secured $3.4 million for buses
and bus-related facilities for the circulator program in the recently
passed transportation bill.
So, now that the money for the equipment is lined up, state officials
wanted to come up with the money to make the equipment run.
"We didn't get money to do this," said Michael Sanders,
the transit administrator for the Department of Transportation. "We're
looking to absorb it within our existing budget."
The bus service will run a route that is still being finalized,
and it will do so every day but Sunday, from about 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.,
Sanders said. With three buses, the goal is to have riders wait no
longer than 10 minutes for a bus, he said.
This "demonstration" service
will operate in September and October at a total cost of $77,000,
Sanders said. Over the course of a year, this same level of service
would cost about $500,000, Sanders said.
"We're going to put this out, see what happens, and see what
comments we get back," he said. "We'll see what the demands
are, what the market is really asking for."
Lizabeth Hall, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st
District, said the congressman has been pushing for the federal funding
and is looking for the service to succeed.
"They had done a lot of work getting the federal funding and
they wanted to make sure that this actually happened," Pagani
said, referring to the work of Larson's office.
In September and October, the
city will host several "city-wide" conventions,
the type that bring roughly 1,000 people and that use several downtown
hotels. They include conventions of the following organizations:
the Federal Highway Administration-Eastern Snow and Ice Expo; the
International Christian Association; the National Council of Teachers
of Mathematics; the National Science Teachers; the Connecticut Conference
of Municipalities; and a medical, pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers
conference called Beacon Medi 2005.
"The circulator will enable attendees to meetings and conventions
to see the rest of the city," said H. Scott Phelps, executive
director of the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau. "This
is a way for ... delegate spending to reach out throughout the downtown
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at