(Updated Thursday, 2 p.m.) Ridership on the 9.4-mile dedicated busway between New Britain and Hartford has reached another milestone. According to state officials, it has carried over four million riders since its launch on March 28, 2015.
Data provided by the state Department of Transportation shows that 256,407 passenger trips were made along the 9.4-mile route in July. That number doesn’t include the 13,325 trips made on Express buses that use the corridor for part of the trip or the 165,201 trips made on local routes that connect to the corridor and existed before the busway was built.
CTfastrak alone had nearly 10,000 passenger boardings on an average weekday in July, which is an increase of more than 23 percent over last July.
Before CTfastrak there were about 8,000 passenger trips on an average weekday in the corridor. If the Express bus routes and local baseline routes are included, the average weekday passenger trips in July goes from nearly 10,000 to about 17,402.
The busway now also extends beyond the 9.4 miles between New Britain and Hartford and includes routes east of the Connecticut River to East Hartford and Manchester. There are also CTfastrak buses that go to Bristol and Plainville.
“CTfastrak has exceeded all expectations and it is a transformative investment for our future,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said of the $567 million busway.
He said these are ridership levels they were expecting to see in 2030.
Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker told Malloy that Aug. 29 saw more passengers than any other day over the past year and a half of operation. The numbers for August aren’t included in the recent report, which is why Redeker whispered it to Malloy during a press conference.
No one was able to say what contributed to the spike in ridership.
“I know we’re in Connecticut and the glass is always half empty and there can be no good news, but the reality is this thing is nothing but good news,” Malloy said.
He said it’s clearly become an important means of travel for many in central Connecticut.
In other areas of the state, bus ridership has not increased, according to Malloy.
The rapid drop in gas prices generally shows that people begin to use their cars again for some travel, Malloy said. However, he said the trend has not been showing up in Metro-North Rail Line numbers where ridership has increased.
No demographic studies of CTfastrak riders have been completed, but Malloy speculated that ridership will continue to increase over the next couple of months as students head back to school. The busway connects students to Central Connecticut State University in New Britain and Capital Community College in Hartford. According to a press release CTfastrak has also become a popular mode of travel to the XL Center, a sports and music venue, in downtown Hartford.
Redeker said they are still evaluating ridership demographics.
“We’re finding that the use of public transit is quickly becoming a more frequent choice of travel,” Redeker said. “Our CTfastrak outreach program has made significant progress in reaching almost every population segment living, studying, and working in central Connecticut.”
He said the system offers pre-boarding fare payment, next bus arrival predictions, free Wi-Fi and up to 21 hours of service.