Public transportation saves fuel and tax dollars, creates jobs and eases the damage done to the environment. Many groups in the state continue to work to not only improve public transportation systems and options, but also to make them more “green.” One such organization is the Connecticut Fund for the Environment in New Haven. It also promotes “transit-oriented development,” which it describes as “a proven economic growth and environmental protection strategy” for sustainable communities built around green transit. While Connecticut does have good public transportation in some areas, for most of the state, private cars are the still the only truly viable option for getting around.
Bus ridership in Connecticut continues to rise, especially in the coastal urban corridor of Bridgeport, Stamford and New Haven. Transit companies report serving over 41 million rides a year. A controversial and expensive new bus lane is expected to increase bus use as it will circumvent normal traffic patterns, making travel by bus much faster as well as much greener that commuting by car. Getting to and going around other parts of the state by bus, however, is not easy, and most service that is available is not provided by public but by private bus companies such as Greyhound and Peter Pan.
Connecticut commuters log over 38 million trips a year on Metro-North, and ridership continues to grow on the principal rail lines into New York. Train service is also available from New Haven to Hartford, Boston and Providence. While two spurs of the New Haven Line connect to Waterbury and Danbury, and the Harlem Line snakes up along the west on the New York side of the border, most of the state and most towns are no longer tied together by rail. People in those towns can drive to railheads in the big cities, but to get from those rail centers, visitors need to rent cars.
Car Share, Car Pool and Local Transit Options
Zipcar is available in some of the big cities and other car rental services are available in all of the big and most of the smaller cities of Connecticut. There are also share-a-ride and carpool programs available in some areas. The CTRides website offers information, links and telephone numbers to local and rural transport networks, including “Dial-a-Ride” and “Candystriper,” a “Deviated Flexible Route Service” option to get around towns in the Northwest Corner. The city of Stamford has a car share website and there are new Easystreet van share groups in Canton, Glastonbury, Groton and other small cities and large towns.
Many Connecticut cities and towns have bike lanes or bike paths. A full listing is available at www.ctbikeroutes.org. Bike rental, however, is not prevalent, even in the big cities, although there are bicycle clubs that can help direct riders to the better bike shops and recommend safe routes and secure places to park bicycles.
Commitment to Green Transit Growing
Connecticut is committed to investing in and attracting federal money to support new bus, rail and improved road networks. Many towns either have one or more buses serving limited local routes, or at least are part of a network that offers some form of local transit. The state legislature remains committed to improving transit and in particular green transit options, within budgetary constraints.
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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.