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Bristol Residents Still Doubtful About Busway, But Plymouth Wants To Get On Board


March 12, 2013

BRISTOL Skeptics showed up to deliver criticism at a CTfastrak informational forum Monday, but the session also drew praise from two or three bus riders and even a pitch from Plymouth to get in on the project.

Several speakers warned that busway stations will become dangerous if they're not policed, and resident Mary Alford said the 9.4-mile busway will be expensive to clear after snowstorms.

CTfastrak engineers replied that details about security, maintenance, operations and schedules will be settled before service begins in February 2015.

They said that even though Bristol isn't on the busway's New Britain to Hartford route, commuters from the city will benefit. CT Transit buses from Cheshire, Waterbury, Southington, Bristol and Plainville will use it to get off congested I-84 and finish the journey to Hartford free of traffic jams.

That will save time on the Bristol Express run between downtown Hartford and the Route 229 park and ride lot in Bristol, the DOT said. And for Bristol riders who take both the PB and 41 local buses, the busway could shave nearly 25 minutes off the trip: The almost 45-minute journey between New Britain and Hartford will be cut to 18 minutes, the DOT said.

Some Bristol council members weren't impressed.

"If you live in the northeast section of Bristol, driving in will take you 15 to 20 minutes. Why would you go from the other side of the city to downtown, then get onto a bus to go the other way to New Britain?" council member David Mills asked.

"By the time that bus arrives, I'm already ordering dinner," council member Kevin Fuller added.

CTFastrak Supervising Engineer Brian Cunningham replied that Bristol people who keep driving to Hartford will still benefit, because some motorists and most buses will be off the highway.

Council member Ken Cockayne questioned whether the projected $567 million cost is a good use of tax money, saying people are unhappy that the project was "forced down their throats."

"We think this can be very successful. But there are so many people in Plymouth who don't have a car," said Ted Scheidel, administrative aide to Plymouth's mayor. " We need a transit bus to come through on Route 6 so they can get to Bristol [and the busway]."

Rider Kaye Finnigan of Bristol estimated she saves $100 a month by taking the Bristol Express to Hartford. But she implored the DOT to do a better job of monitoring its subcontractor, Dattco, which runs the buses. When buses don't show up, neither CT Transit nor Dattco take responsibility, she said. And the system isn't seamless; she said she can't buy a ticket directly from CT Transit's kiosk in Hartford, and is instead told to buy from the driver even though she's riding a CT Transit bus.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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