Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Curbing Costs in Connecticut with Public-Private Partnerships

The Board and Staff at 1000 Friends of Connecticut recently asked over 4,000 of our followers if they thought Connecticut can "grow smart" now that strong leaders for our cause are in the Administration. Their responses are still streaming in, but the public at large leans towards wondering whether or not Governor Malloy and his executive agencies are "walking the walk," as opposed to just "talking the talk."

The Commissioners from the Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Transportation (ConnDOT), and Economic and Community Development (DECD) have risen above and beyond in terms of staying in the public's eye, but our Friends still want to know more. In theory, linking the environment with transportation, energy-efficiency and the economy makes perfect sense to everyone, especially as election season approaches. But what does it look like in practice?

At Connecticut Transit (CTTRANSIT), it looks like a sixty-foot accordion on wheels. Just yesterday, Commissioners Esty of DEEP and Redeker of ConnDOT applauded the new "bendy buses," as they are known in Britain, for meeting the Federal EPA's 2010 near-zero emissions requirement.

According to CTTransit's web site, Commissioner Esty stated, "DEEP and DOT are working together to create a 21st century transportation network that is a key to rebuilding Connecticut's economy, creating jobs, and making our state an attractive place to live and work. The type of larger-capacity, low-emission bus being deployed ... will help us accomplish those goals--while protecting our air quality and the environment."

Two of these hybrid buses began service on Wednesday, January 11 in Hartford on Park Street and Farmington Avenue. They join CTTransit's fleet of nearly fifty diesel-electric buses and five hydrogen fuel-cell powered buses. In addition to that, their flexible centers allow for their greater size and safe turns, translating into more passengers on the bus and less vehicles mile travelled. The innovative design seats up to fifty-seven people with enough space left over for fifty-five standing passengers, and the interiors of the buses resemble what
one might see in Britain.

The costs of the new buses were fully covered by Federal funds, exemplifying the very opportunities that 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Speaker Series has aimed to highlight. This cross-sector partnership between the privately-owned CTTransit with ConnDOT and DEEP is essential to furthering a Smart Growth agenda that makes real progress in areas including rational mass transit, enhanced energy practices, and the land-use decisions that support them; however, where do the revitalized downtowns and compact, walkable communities come into play? Join 1000 Friends of Connecticut on Thursday, January 19 at Union Station in Hartford and learn how Commissioner Smith's vision for the Department of Economic and Community Development will complement it's sister agencies in a way that maximizes infrastructure investments in a sustainable manner.

For more information on 1000 Friends of Connecticut's Speaker Series, click here.

CTTRANSIT is the ConnDOT-owned bus service serving Greater Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford. Read CTTRANSIT's press release on their new hybrid-electric 60-foot articulated buses here, or contact Phil Fry at

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