Connecticut to Get Inter-City Bus Rapid Transit

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The planned route for Connecticut's first BRT project, the New Britain-Hartford Busway.

Connecticut is on the road to building a bus rapid transit system. On Monday, the Federal Transit Administration announced $275 million in financial support for the 9.4 mile New Britain-Hartford Busway, which is set to launch in 2014 and carry 16,000 passengers a day between the two cities. The project is expected to be completed in two years at a total cost of $567 million.

Connecticut is applying lessons from other cities' BRT networks. Buses will have off-board fare collection and traffic signal preference for stretches where they do not run on exclusive roadways. The Busway will connect downtown New Britain with downtown Hartford. Its dedicated roadway will be constructed on a 4.4-mile abandoned railroad right-of-way, then alongside an active Amtrak route for the remaining five miles.  The U.S. Department of Transportation says a fleet of 31 "clean fuel" buses will serve the route's 11 stations, including one with Amtrak access.

This system is designed for commuting with frequent service. Earlier documents from the Conn. DOT said buses would run every three to six minutes. The latest fact sheet says buses will run every six at peak times, less often during off-hours. The service will be from 4:30 a.m. to about 1:30 a.m. The core BRT service along the old rail right-of-way will get from New Britain to Hartford in 20 minutes, about half what it currently takes and roughly what it takes to drive according to Google Maps estimates. Connecticut's DOT website ambitiously promises that "buses will travel faster than automobiles as they bypass congestion on arterial streets and I-84."

A network of feeder bus routes (map) is also being established to collect passengers from neighborhoods along the route--and cities as far away as  20 miles away, such as Waterbury. That connection will be an express bus route on standard roads.  See the route through satellite imaging here.

The U.S. DOT says the project will create 4,000 construction jobs, largely for the rails-to-BRT conversion, and 100 permanent jobs.

Read more at this slightly outdated fact sheet that was prepared before Monday's funding announcement.