NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Britain’s Mayor is singing the praises of the six-month-old CT Fastrak rapid transit bus service to and from Hartford. Governor Malloy was in a giddy mood Wednesday as he visited with businesses in the one-mile Main Street corridor between the CT Fastrak bus station and the Broad Street “Little Poland” neighborhood in New Britain, noting that many there say there has been an economic uptick in the area.
Malloy also announced that so far in July and August, there have been 14,000 daily riders on Fastrak, about 25-percent higher than had been predicted after the first year, and this is the highest vacation period of the year.
“CT Fastrak has been such a benefit to the city of New Britain since it started back in March,” said Mayor Erin Stewart, R-New Britain. “The city of New Britain has seen an uptick in activity; we’ve seen lots more visitors.”
She says those visitors are coming to the new Eblen’s Sporting Goods store and the Roly Poly Polish Bakery and Market, as well as other Polish restaurants nearby. The biggest sign of what’s called “transit-oriented development” is the decision by a developer to rehab and expand a 100-year-old abandoned eyesore, the Berkowitz Building, into 52 new apartments.
“It’s a historic project, one, and two, it was close to the busway,” said project developer Douglas Bromfield of Capital Restoration, Inc. “We believe in community housing, that’s our main focus, so it was a plus having the busway there.”
The only problem is that the Fastrak parking lots, like the one at the Cedar Street Station in nearby Newington, aren’t big enough. The Governor says that’s a good problem to have and they’re working on it.
Gov. Malloy says the plan is to expand the busway to the east, all the way to UConn, and they’re in the discussion stages about a plan for the New Haven and Stamford-Norwalk areas.