CTFastak bus (Kristina Vakham / ctnewsjunkie)

Gov. Ned Lamont proposed that buses, including CTfastrak from Hartford to New Britain, will be free on the weekends this summer. 

Lamont made the announcement Tuesday at a press conference in New Britain on the Transportation Climate Initiative. 

“We’ve got some federal funds that are coming in to help us with transportation now and going forward we’ll have TCI,” Lamont said. “I’d like to see less people in cars. I’d like to see more people who are taking Fastrak, more people taking the bus, so I’m going to propose to the legislature that we provide free bus service on weekends this summer. Free bus service. Everything from Fastrak to public buses wherever they may be.”

The Connecticut Department of Transportation will use up to $3 million that the state received from the federal CARES Act to pay for it, according to Lamont’s office. It will include bus rides on all systems operated by CTtransit. Additionally, the department will work with transit districts outside of the CTtransit system to provide the opportunity to partake in the free weekend program.

The legislature doesn’t have to approve the funding, according to Lamont’s administration. 

Approximately 20 percent of residents in cities such as New Britain and Waterbury, and around 30 percent of residents in Hartford and New Haven do not own cars and rely on transit, among other transportation options, for mobility.

“Our ability to attract weekend riders through a free weekend-ride program gives our state and our residents an additional boost towards returning to normal,” Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti said.

Lamont said it’s about helping out the local economy.

“To help support our economic recovery from the pandemic, I want to make Connecticut’s many attractions and businesses reachable by as many of our residents as possible, and implementing free weekend bus service this summer – the busiest time of tourism season – will help facilitate that,” Lamont said. 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Coverage of the 2020 Multimodal and Transit Summit, as well as a follow-up series on related transportation issues, is being partially underwritten by the Transport Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress.

Underwriting is funding for journalism that will be reported and produced independently, without prior review by the funder before publication.