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No Getting Around It City Bus System Flawed

Commentary By ANTON RICK-OSSEN

April 13, 2008

The wide distances between where we live, work and shop in the Capital Region have made cars a necessity. For the poor, and increasingly the middle class, the cost of car ownership is an enormous burden. Those who can't afford a car an estimated 30 to 40 percent of Hartford residents don't own autos must spend the time it takes to navigate the region's bus system.

One of the biggest holes in the existing bus system is a lack of cross-town routes. All but two routes travel in and out of downtown. We have many spokes leading to a single hub downtown, but no rim.

To go anywhere but downtown, one must first go downtown to get back out of downtown, making trips twice as long as necessary. Parents who rely on the bus lose hours every day that could be spent with their children.

In order to save precious time, at least one new crosstown route should be created. One possible route could travel along Woodland Street, Sisson Avenue, New Park Avenue and Newington Road, to connect Hartford's North End, West End and Parkville neighborhoods with Elmwood and Newington Center. This route would cross several existing routes, creating additional hubs outside of downtown, and it would pass St. Francis Hospital, one of the region's largest employers.

Passengers from several neighborhoods would have direct access to the Albany Avenue, Farmington Avenue, Park Street and Elmwood commercial corridors, the supermarket and movie theaters on New Park Avenue and the bus routes that reach Westfarms mall.

A larger labor pool would be connected to the industrial areas along Homestead and New Park Avenues. This route would meet the proposed Hartford New Britain busway and could be a foundation for transit-oriented development.

By revising zoning codes along this route, our region could support the healthy density of transit-oriented development. Good transit is a matter of social justice and economic efficiency. A simple step such as a crosstown bus route would help on both counts.

Anton Rick-Ossen commutes by bus from his home in Hartford to his job at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, and is a part-time graduate student in economics at Trinity College.

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.
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