BUSWAY A HALF BILLION NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT?

I hope I’m wrong. I hope the grandiose number of people—16,000 a day; no really, 16,000 a day—projected to ride the New Britain-to-Hartford busway actually get out of their cars and ride the bus to work or play. But I truly fear this project will become a national embarrassment for Connecticut and could even hurt Gov. Malloy’s obvious longing for higher office.

The good part? Well, it will create 4,000 short-term construction jobs leading to the criticism that the project is one big suck-up to labor (who, by the way, got Malloy elected). The question is, will people use this thing? From this view, it simply won’t happen. And then there’s issue of this busway forever taking up a path that could be used for rail.

A good way to gauge whether a project is worth doing is to see who sits on which side of the issue. One of the more thoughtful public servants in the entire state is former state Sen. Don DeFronzo (D-New Britain) who is now Malloy’s commissioner of the department of administrative services (DAS). He opposed this project from the start but he can’t blamed if he goes silent now given the fact that the biggest proponent is his boss.

This thing costs $567 million and runs less than10 miles. The numbers are staggering. In 10 years, are people going to ridicule Connecticut for the “busway to nowhere?” There is just no way I can be convinced that a significant number of people will get out of their cars and get on a bus in New Britain (or anywhere else on the line) to travel to Hartford.

Your thoughts?

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  1. $567 million for a busway? Are you freakin’ crazy, Dan Malloy? There is no way 16,000 people are going to get out of their cars and ride this tram to nowhere. This project defies any rational cost-benefit analysis, but is tailor made for the wacky environmentalist set who want all of us out of our cars and on public transportation, and living in little cubicles in central cities where we can be controlled.

    And why just New Britain to Hartford? Why not Willimantic to Hartford, and New Haven to Hartford, and Putnam to Hartford and Stamford to Hartford. $567 million for just one route? If this insanity goes through, we’re screwed because it will presage even greater insanity ahead.

  2. Let’s hope not. In other cities like Chicago, Boston & New York, people flock to public transit because their commute sucks or parking is expensive. Both of those are true of Hartford. I know a few suburbanites who use the bus service now and really love it. My guess is, there will be plenty of people who feel the same way in that corridor, but it’s a ton of money to risk, no question.

    My other thought is that the busway isn’t about the suburbanites who own cars – it’s about the people who can’t afford cars and who can’t find work close by. More and better public transit opens up the job market to those folks. That said… there are few jobs to be had anywhere. So it’s a risk.

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