The long-vacant Berkowitz Building in New Britain is soon to be developed into apartments and retail space. Standing outside it on Wednesday, Governor Dannel Malloy called for transit-oriented development along the CTfastrak busway route connecting the city directly to Hartford.
“If you want to know what transit-oriented development looks like, come back when this project is built. The early seeds [for] transit-oriented development is people acquiring properties in that corridor,” Malloy said.
The governor had just finished a short tour of businesses along Main Street, a few blocks from the downtown CTfastrak station, with New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart and state Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker.
Stewart said the city has seen an “uptick in activity” since the busway’s launch in March.
"It’s hard for communities to understand the need for housing and transit-oriented development around mass transit," Stewart said. "A lot of people don’t realize how many folks rely on mass transit on a daily basis, especially here in New Britain, and Connecticut’s urban communities."
Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said that daily ridership on the busway is now operating 25 percent over the first-year daily ridership goal, at about 14,000 riders every day.
With the busway’s growing ridership, parking has grown short at stations in Newington and West Hartford.
At the a parking garage in New Britain -- where developers hoped CTfastrak riders would park -- there are a vast number of empty spots every day, according to The Hartford Courant.
Redeker said the DOT did a survey, and found that 75 percent of transit riders parking at stations along the line would park in New Britain if it were free. He said he’s working with Stewart on a program to address the issue.
“We have programs in place where we’re talking about potential leasing and maybe some property used to expand parking and I think we’ll be announcing those very shortly, it’ll be our hope to do that within a couple of weeks,” Redeker said.
Stewart said the city is working on street improvements so that busway riders walking from the parking garage have better accessibility to the station.
Redeker said that in about eleven months, CTfastrak East will be operational in Manchester. The DOT is starting to talk now as well about a connection to the University of Connecticut Storrs Campus.
“I’ve actually had conversations with the president there to make that connection, which ultimately would extend fastrak out to Tolland serving the communities, feeding the communities, and being a tremendous connector for UConn,” Redeker said.
Redeker said there’s been interest in bus rapid transit throughout the state. Another possible route, he said, would be a connection between Norwalk and Bridgeport.