If commuters in Connecticut need something to be thankful for this week, they got it this morning when the Federal Transit Administration signed an agreement with the Connecticut DOT to help fund the state's first bus rapid transit system.
When the New Britain-Hartford Busway is complete in two years, riders will be able to board buses at several stations, then bypass cars stuck in traffic on I-84 and reach work and other destinations quickly. The project will include 11 stations, park and ride connections to other suburban transit service, and 31 new clean-fuel buses serving New Britain, Newington, West Hartford, and Hartford. The Busway will also connect passengers to Amtrak intercity rail service at Hartford’s Union Station.
The project will use an abandoned railroad right-of-way that runs between downtown New Britain and Hartford. Transforming this route into a busway and building stations is expected to create 4,000 construction jobs.
As FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff said this morning in Hartford:
“This forward-thinking transportation solution will change the way Connecticut’s commuters get to work and school, while creating thousands of jobs right now at a time when they are needed most This is a long-overdue project that will help people spend less time sitting in punishing traffic along I-84."
Everywhere I travel, people tell me they want transportation choices. There is pent-up demand across the nation for projects like this that give people a reason to take transit and improve access to jobs and other opportunities.
And this is exactly what the FTA has done, supporting more than 30 new capital transit projects in the last two years with $1.4 billion in start-up funding. Every one of those projects means more jobs, and every one of those projects means a better quality of life.
We should be doing a lot more work like this. And we could, if Congress passes transportation reauthorization or the transportation provisions in the President’s American Jobs Act.
It's time for our nation to begin long-deferred repairs on the aging transit systems, roads, and bridges we’ve already built. And it's time to invest in the transportation systems--like the New Britain-Hartford Busway--we’ll need to compete in the years ahead.
That's not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea. It's just common sense.