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Connecticut officials see success in Hartford-New Britain busway, seek expansion to Manchester

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NEW BRITAIN, Connecticut — The half-billion dollar bus-only route between Hartford and New Britain has been an early success, prompting state officials to expand it east to Manchester, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday.

The state will extend CTfastrak service east of the Connecticut River, including access to jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, Goodwin College and other businesses and organizations in East Hartford. It will use section of Interstate 84 dedicated to high-occupancy vehicles.

"The early success that we are seeing with CTfastrak indicates that Connecticut residents are embracing new ways to travel," Malloy said.

Expanding the bus rapid transit service will use $6.5 million in anticipated bonding.

CTfastrak, which began service in late March, averaged 14,500 daily commuters in May. Before its start, the CTtransit buses serving the area averaged 8,000 daily riders.

State officials had projected more than 16,000 daily riders in 2030, but use has risen years before that goal. Michael Sanders, the state Transportation Department's transit administrator, said last year he is confident CTfastrak will reach that number before 2030 as ridership increases with service that's faster, reaches more distant destinations and draws in college students and crowds from special events.

The $567 million project cost the state $112 million, with the rest paid by the federal government.

Republican state Sen. Joe Markley of Southington, a fierce critic of the bus-only corridor, said he's not moved by its success. Like others who opposed the project, he said the money spent could have been used for other transportation demands.

"It's a question if it's worth a $600 million investment," he said. "I never thought it was worth that money and I still don't."

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