NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) It was criticized as an expensive boondoggle while it was being built but it appears that thousands of people in Central Connecticut are getting aboard the ‘CTFastrak’ every workday.
The ‘bus only’ highway that was constructed between New Britain and Hartford with ten modern station-stops has been so successful in the first two months that the state is going to ‘fast track’ an expansion. The initial numbers are in and so are the reviews and they are all good.
CTFastrak rider Rachel Veins of New Britain says, “I definitely use it for work, almost everyday. It’s quicker than the other buses, it comes like it seems every fifteen minutes.” Added John Jones of New Britain, “To go to the gym, to go to work, I’ve been on it since it started.” Paul Pacheco of New Britain had similar a similarly glowing review, “I use it everyday, gets me to work, to and from work, convenient, it’s easy access.”
Those are just some of the more than 14,000 daily riders using Connecticut’s first rapid transit bus system. That’s more than 25 percent more people using CTFastrak than the D-O-T predicted would be using it on weekdays after the first year and it’s been operating just a little over two months. “Fits into my schedule a lot easier…a lot easier for me to get around especially when I don’t have a car,” said Jordan Isonz of East Hartford.
Getting people out of their cars on Interstate-84 coming into Hartford is exactly what the D.O.T. is hoping as they plan for a major rebuild of the highway in the coming decade.
In proclaiming CTFastrak a success today the Governor announced the system will be expanded to East Hartford and Manchester using the ‘High Occupancy Vehicle’ lanes on I-84 east of the Connecticut River. “East of the river will extend access to those employed at Pratt & Whitney, Goodwin College, in addition to many other large and small employers in those two towns,” said the Governor.
In April, News 8 first reported that some users of the system were complaining that many people were not paying the fare and there was no one to enforce it. Michael Sanders of the D.O.T. said today, ‘We have fare enforcement agents, we have seven of them now, and they randomly check ridership throughout the day.”
And Sanders says they are finding that about one percent of passengers are not paying and the free loaders are escorted out of the bus and shown the proper way to purchase a fare at kiosks at the stations.
A penalty of $75 has been authorized by the legislature for those that don’t pay the $1.50 fare now making it quite a bit more risky.