Hartford, Connecticut/New Britain – Hartford Busway

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New Britain-Hartford Busway

Hartford, Connecticut

(November 1999)

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Description

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) is proposing the New Britain-Hartford Busway, a 9.6-mile, 12-station busway to operate on existing and abandoned right-of-way between downtown New Britain and Union Station in Hartford. The proposed New Britain Hartford Busway is intended to relieve congestion in the I-84 Corridor and improve access to suburban employment and educational opportunities for inner city residents. The capital cost estimate for the proposed project is $80.0 million in escalated dollars. ConnDOT proposes to begin operations of the New Britain Hartford Busway in 2003.

Summary Description

Proposed Project:

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

9.6 miles, 12 stations

Total Capital Cost ($YOE):

$80.0 million

Section 5309 Share ($YOE):

$51.6 million

Annual Operating Cost (YOE):

$ 6.5 million

Ridership Forecast (2020):

13,300 weekday boardings

8,800 daily new riders

FY 2001 Financial Rating:

FY 2001 Project Justification Rating:

FY 2001 Overall Project Rating:

Medium

Medium

Recommended

The Recommended rating is based on the project's strong estimated cost effectiveness and the adequacy of the project's capital and operating plans at this stage of development. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1999. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.

Status

In 1996, ConnDOT, the Capitol Regional Council of Governments (CROG) and the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA) initiated a Major Investment Study (MIS) for the Hartford West corridor; the study was completed July 1999. In March of 1999, the Locally Preferred Alternative was selected by the Capitol Regional Council of Governments (CROG) and included in the Long-Range Plan.

FTA approved the Busway project’s entrance into preliminary engineering in January 2000.

The New Britain Hartford Busway is not authorized for Section 5309 New Starts funds in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). To date, $1.49 million in New Starts funding has been appropriated.

Evaluation

The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA's Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria. Criteria are reported for the 9.6-mile Busway system. N/A indicates that information is not available for a specific measure.

FTA has evaluated this project as entering preliminary engineering. The project will be re-evaluated when it is ready to advance to final design and for next year’s Annual Report on New Starts.

Justification

The Medium project justification rating reflects strong cost effectiveness and mobility improvement ratings, offset by poor transit supportive land use.

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium-High

The 9.6-mile system is expected to serve 13,300 average weekday boardings and 8,800 daily new riders by 2020. Hartford estimates the following annual travel time savings for the Busway compared with the No-Build and Transportation System Management (TSM) alternatives.

 

Mobility Improvements

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs. TSM

Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours)

2.6 million

0.7 million

Based on the 1990 census data, there are an estimated 4,381 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed 12 stations, or 11 percent of the total households within ½ mile of proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: High

The Hartford Metropolitan area is an attainment area for carbon monoxide and a serious non-attainment area for ozone. ConnDOT estimates that in 2020, the Metrorail Extension will result in the following reduction in emissions.

 

Criteria Pollutant

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs. TSM

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

269

183

Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)

40

23

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)

42

29

Particulate Matter (PM10)

0

0

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

12,158

9,086

Values reflect annual tons of emissions reductions.

ConnDOT estimates that in the year 2020, the LPA will result in the following reductions in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units – BTU).

 

Annual Energy Savings

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs. TSM

BTU (million)

160,084

119,449

Values reflect annual BTU reductions.

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Low

ConnDOT estimates an increase in the system-wide operating cost per passenger mile in the year 2020 for the Busway alternative compared to both the No-Build and TSM.

 

No-Build

TSM

New Start

System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (1997)

$0.68

$0.74

$0.78

Values reflect 2020 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: High

ConnDOT estimates the following cost-effectiveness indices for the Busway alternative compared to the No-Build and the TSM alternatives.

 

New Start vs.

No-Build

New Start vs.

TSM

Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger

$5.50

$4.30

Values reflect 2020 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Low-Medium

The Low-Medium rating reflects the absence of significant policies to encourage transit supportive land use in the corridor and the limited coordination of land use plans among the six jurisdictions served by the proposed Busway.

Existing Land Use: The proposed corridor will connect the central business districts (CBD) in New Britain and Hartford. In West Hartford and Newington, development along the Busway corridor is low-density residential and industrial, with some suburban "big-box" retail. Land uses in the Farmington portion of the corridor are predominantly medium to high-density residential developments. There are a total of 20,322 households within one-half mile of the twelve stations. The number of housing units in 1995 was 21,197 and is expected to rise to 25,282 in 2020. In addition to the two CBDs, the proposed Busway also serves Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), the New Britain Superior Court Building, and the Liberty Square and Government Center Office Complex areas. Employment population for the half-mile total station area was 81,364 in 1995 and is expected to rise by 26 percent to 102,212 in 2020. Parking charges range from $25 to $100 per month within the New Britain and Hartford CBDs, and there is an ample supply. Parking is generally free outside of the Central Business Districts. Pedestrian accessibility is good within the two CBDs, but the pedestrian environment declines throughout the middle portion of the busway corridor.

Plans and Policies: The City of Hartford has adopted an "Economic and Urban Design Action Strategy" to encourage redevelopment within the CBD, and New Britain is also actively encouraging redevelopment of its downtown area. However, there is no coordinated approach to encouraging transit supportive development in the six jurisdictions along the proposed Busway. Likewise, there are no strategies for transit station area development, coordinated policies to reduce sprawl, or coordinated parking policies. Station area zoning plans have not been considered outside of Hartford and New Britain.

Other Factors

FTA BRT Demonstration Program: In August 1999, the New Britain-Hartford Busway was selected as one of FTA’s ten Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Demonstration Projects. FTA’s BRT Demonstration Program is intended to foster the development of BRT systems in the United States; address BRT planning, implementation, and operational issues; and evaluate system performance in a wide range of operating environments.

Transportation Community and System Preservation Program: On June 8, 1999 the Parkville Community within Hartford was awarded a Transportation Community and System Preservation Pilot Program Grant to undertake coordinated transportation and land use planning activities.

 

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 35%

ConnDOT proposes a $51.6 million Section 5309 New Start share (65 percent) of total project capital costs. The financial plan includes $1.5 million in FHWA National Highway System Funds (2 percent), $3.9 million in FHWA Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds (5 percent), and $7 million in FTA Section 5307 funds (8 percent). ConnDOT will provide $16.0 million (20 percent) in State funding for the project.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium rating reflects the strong financial condition of ConnDOT and adequacy of the project’s financial plan at this stage of development.

Agency Financial Condition: ConnDOT serves as the primary fixed route transit provider throughout the State of Connecticut. The agency’s Special Transportation Fund has increased each of the past 14 years and was estimated at $858.2 million for FY98.

Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Current project cost estimates do not include contingencies. It is likely that capital cost estimates will increase as preliminary engineering progresses.

Existing and Committed Funding: Existing non-New Starts funding for the proposed Busway project total $28.4 million. ConnDOT's contribution towards the project is $16.0 million, however, these funds are not formally committed. Additional funding will come from other federal sources; the various sources include NHS funds, CMAQ and formula funds.

New and Proposed: No new sources of funding are proposed.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium rating is based on the adequacy of the project’s operating plan at this stage of development.

Agency Operating Condition: The overall operating financing condition of ConnDOT is sound.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: ConnDot estimates annual operating costs for the busway to be $6.5 million. These estimates are reasonable given the project size, scope, and current stage of development.

Existing and Committed Funding: Operating costs are proposed to be covered by the project's farebox revenues and from the Connecticut Special Transportation Fund. ConnDOT's Special Transportation Fund provides funding for capital improvements and for maintenance and operation of the State’s surface transportation system. The fund has always had a positive annual cumulative balance.

New and Proposed Sources: There are no new funding sources proposed to operate the project.

 

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

 

Proposed Source of Funds

Total Funding ($million)

 

Appropriations to Date

Federal:    
  §5309 New Starts

FHWA NHS

FHWA CMAQ

FTA Sect. 5307

51.6

1.5

3.9

7.0

($1.49 million appropriated through FY 2000)
       
State:

ConnDOT Special Transportation Funds

 

16.0

 
       
       
 

TOTAL

$80.0

 
NOTE: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

New Britain-Hartford Busway (map)