Buses would run hourly between Connecticut’s capitol city and the University of Connecticut under a proposal from the state Department of Transportation.
Under the proposal, CTfastrak’s service would be expanded east of the Connecticut River to connect Storrs with Manchester and Hartford by this summer, and possibly further by 2017 and 2018.
This most recent proposal would offer hourly rides between downtown Hartford and UConn Storrs. Buses would run throughout the day, not only during peak hours.
The service would also offer a weekend line.
“Expanding CTfastrak service to UConn would not only benefit our campus community, but could also encourage more Greater Hartford residents to consider working, studying and visiting here,” UConn President Susan Herbst said. “This is an idea that deserves our wholehearted support, and is one which we fully endorse.
The service would continue to serve park-and-ride lots in Tolland, Vernon and Rockville during rush hour, but all other buses would run express between Hartford and Storrs.
Lisa Rivers, a DOT transit manager admitted that the expanded service would not look the same as the rest of the CTfastrak service, primarily because there isn’t enough money in the DOT budget for the expansion.
“We don’t have any more vehicles to expand the service with,” Rivers said. “When we do expand I am going to have to lease vehicles and they will not have the same technologies that are attractive to consumers.”
Rivers refers to intelligent transportation systems that allow buses in the CTfastrak fleet to control stoplights, provide real time updates on the bus locations and other perks.
Current CTfastrak buses run from as early as 4:30 a.m. to as late as 12:45 a.m., but the newest proposal shows that the new buses would not leave Storrs until 9 a.m.
Meagan Self, an eighth-semester nursing student, commutes from Storrs to Hartford Hospital three days a week.
“The majority of [nursing students] are expected to be on hospital units at 6:30 a.m.,” Self said. “I am unsure if the busing system would be available at early hours for timely and reliable transport.”
The service would not be free for students, but Rivers imagines that UConn and the DOT could work out a deal.
“We have our U-Pass system in place with Eastern Connecticut College,” Rivers said. “I am sure we could do something similar with UConn.”
U-Pass is in use at many universities around the United States. It offers lower fairs for riders with a student identification.
“One of the issues we run into being so far from the cities is that there are talented employees who would like to work here, but transportation becomes a barrier for them,” UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said. “This would be great for our students and staff, so we are supporting the DOT however possible.”
Jon Hull is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.