CTfastrak is Connecticut’s first Bus Rapid Transit system. It is a system of bus routes that utilize a bus-only roadway for all or a portion of the trip.
In 1997, the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) and the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA) undertook the Hartford West Major Investment Study (MIS), a multimodal study that examined a variety of highway and transit improvements to provide improved mobility and congestion relief as traffic increased along the I-84 corridor. After detailed analysis and a comprehensive public outreach program, the MIS recommended creation of a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system as an effective tool to combat increasing congestion. The system is centered around an exclusive 9.4-mile long guideway dedicated to the BRT system that links Central Connecticut communities including Bristol, Cheshire, Hartford, New Britain, Manchester, Newington, Southington, Waterbury and West Hartford.
Over the next decade, significant resources were dedicated to developing the CTfastrak system. In 2001, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was completed. It analyzed alternatives and made recommendations to mitigate anticipated negative environmental impacts. A Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was completed in December 2001. As the project progressed, revisions were made to the FDEIS to reflect changes in the overall scope and design of the CTfastrak system. These planning steps were completed in accord with Federal regulations regarding new transit projects funded through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts program. In 2009, CTDOT completed the service and operations plans that outline major components of the CTfastrak program, including proposed routes, schedules, and operations details. In 2011, a Full Funding Grant Agreement was signed between the FTA and CTDOT that signaled the final commitment of funding necessary to make CTfastrak a reality. Project construction began in 2012, and CTfastrak opened for service on March 28, 2015.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation provides an updated summary of ridership numbers from every month since transit operations started in March 2015.
What is BRT?
The number of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems throughout the United States continues to grow – in urban, suburban and rural communities.
CTfastrak System Design
CTfastrak works like a rail line, in its own right of way, separated from all other traffic and with few at-grade intersections. It is more flexible than rail, as the buses can get off at intermediate points or at the end of the line and continue directly to other destinations away from the line. The CTfastrak guideway is two lanes, one in each direction, with bus pullouts at eight of the stations to enable drop-offs and pickups, while also allowing through buses, such as expresses, to pass without being delayed. Express buses access the guideway from a dedicated bus exit ramp off the highway. Buses provide reliably frequent service, with arrival times depending on time of day and station location.
From California to Washington D.C., the various systems feature high quality and cost-effective transit service featuring many of the BRT best design and operation practices including:
- Grade-separated right-of-way
- Frequent, high-capacity service that results in passenger waits of less than 10 minutes during peak periods
- High-quality vehicles that are easy to board and provide a quiet, clean and comfortable to ride
- Pre-paid fare collection to minimize boarding delays
- Integrated fare systems, allowing free or discounted transfers between routes
- High quality bus stations with Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in nearby areas
- Integration with pedestrian and bicycle facilities, taxi services, intercity bus, rail transit and other transportation services
- Excellent customer service
- Effective security for transit users and pedestrians.
Features & Benefits
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems are innovative, high capacity, cost effective public transit systems that improve regional mobility by using buses on a dedicated guideway. BRT systems transport passengers to their destinations swiftly while offering system flexibility to meet changing transit demands.
BRT provides many benefits to a community, with positive impacts to businesses, professionals, residents, families and community groups, including:
- An Enjoyable, Stress-Free Ride - Equipped with WiFi, riders can take advantage of their travel on BRT vehicles, using their time to do something more productive than driving, or to just relax. The CTfastrak system uses low-floor buses that are easy to board and comfortable to ride. CTfastrak stations have platforms at the same height as bus doorways, providing passengers with level boarding.
- Efficient and Reliable Travel - Operating on a dedicated guideway, BRT systems are able to operate at speeds that are faster than conventional buses moving on regular roads with other traffic. BRT typically delivers shorter travel times than traditional buses, and often shorter than the equivalent automobile commute.
- Convenience - With fast, frequent and direct service from local communities to popular destinations, CTfastrak offers a safe and worry-free ride to busy commuters and other travelers.
- Flexibility - Many riders are able to travel to their destinations with a "one-seat" ride. Even travelers located many miles away from the CTfastrak corridor are able to use express transit routes that travel on the dedicated CTfastrak guideway to swiftly transport them to their destination.
- Economic Development Opportunities - Accompanied by complementary land use and zoning policies consistent with transit-oriented development, CTfastrak is helping to positively transform the central Connecticut economy and local neighborhoods into more appealing destinations to live and work.
- Environmentally-Friendly Service - The CTfastrak vehicles are clean diesel-electric hybrids. The transit service replaces the need for thousands of daily automobile trips on Connecticut roads and highways. As a result, the CTfastrak system helps achieve better air quality and other positive environmental goals.
- Multi-Use Trail - A 5 mile multi-use recreational trail runs along the southern half of the dedicated CTfastrak guideway, enabling residents to bike, run or walk to local destinations as well as use the trail for recreation.
- Stronger Job Climate - Construction of the CTfastrak system sustained more than 600 construction jobs. Over 90% of the construction workers were Connecticut residents. In addition, because people are able to use CTfastrak to reach a variety of regional locations, they may also be able to consider job opportunities that are farther from home—ones they might not have been able to reach without CTfastrak. This means that growing businesses will be able to recruit from farther away, too. Employers can find the right people, and people can find their perfect jobs.