Hartford, Connecticut/New Britain – Hartford Busway
New Britain-Hartford Busway
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 $82.0 million in escalated dollars. ConnDOT proposes to begin operations of the New Britain Hartford Busway in 2003.
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 2000. 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.
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, Congress has appropriated $1.49 million in Section 5309 New Starts funding for this project.
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 being in 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.
The Medium project justification rating reflects strong cost effectiveness and mobility improvement ratings, offset by medium transit supportive land use.
The 9.6-mile system is expected to serve 8,800 average weekday boardings and 3,720 daily new riders by 2020. ConnDOT estimates the following annual travel time savings for the Busway compared with the No-Build and Transportation System Management (TSM) alternatives.
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.
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 proposed busway will result in the following reduction in emissions.
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).
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.
ConnDOT estimates the following cost-effectiveness indices for the Busway alternative compared to the No-Build and the TSM alternatives.
Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns
The Medium rating reflects the presence of concentrations of development at both ends of the proposed investment. Policies to encourage transit supportive land use in the corridor are still in the early stages of being developed. Full coordination of land use plans among the five communities served by the proposed Busway is still limited.
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. There are a total of 20,300 households within one-half mile of the twelve stations, and is expected to rise to 25,300 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 within one-half of the 12 station areas 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. Adriaen's Landing, a large development proposed in downtown Hartford will include a conference center, retail and entertainment uses. The state had committed $325 million to redevelopment projects in downtown Hartford, while the Parkville neighborhood has received Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program (TCSP) grant from USDOT. In West Hartford an overlay district favoring high-density development has been improved, while New Britain is also actively encouraging redevelopment of its downtown area. However, there is not yet any coordinated approach to encouraging transit supportive development in the five communities along the proposed busway. Likewise, there are not yet any strategies for transit station area development, coordinated policies to reduce sprawl, or coordinated parking policies. Station area zoning plans have not yet been fully considered outside of Hartford and New Britain.
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: 37%
ConnDOT proposes a $51.6 million Section 5309 New Start share (63 percent) of total project capital costs. The financial plan includes $3.12 million in FHWA National Highway System Funds (3.8 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 $16.4 million (20 percent) in State funding for the project.
Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan
The Medium rating reflects the strong financial condition of ConnDOT; however the adequacy of the project’s financial plan at this stage of development needs improvement. The capital plan is missing several key components.
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 the past 14 years and was estimated at $858.2 million for FY98.
Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies:Current project cost estimates did not identify contingencies.
Existing and Committed Funding: All of the non-Section 5309 New Starts funding for the proposed Busway project, totaling $30.4 million is from existing sources. ConnDOT's contribution towards the project is $16.4 million and these funds are budgeted and programmed. Additional funding will come from other federal sources including NHS funds, CMAQ and formula funds.
New and Proposed: No new sources of funding are proposed.
Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan
The Medium rating is based on the adequacy of the project’s operating plan at this stage of development; however the operating plan was missing several key components. An updated operating plan is currently being developed.
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 $6.6 million. These estimates are reasonable given the project size, scope, and current stage of development. Funding sources are committed and are likely to be adequate to cover operating costs, but due to an incomplete operating plan neither revenue nor cost projections were well documented.
Existing and Committed Funding: Operating costs are 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.