Mobilizing the Region
Issue 259 March 3, 2000

Cities, Suburbs Test New Transit Solutions

Projects demonstrating different aspects of "bus rapid transit" systems are underway around the country, with sponsorship from the Federal Transit Administration and local transit agencies.

The closest of the demonstration projects to the NYC metro area is the Hartford-New Britain Busway. It would develop a nine-mile exclusive bus way with 12 boarding stations between downtown New Britain and Hartford's Union Station. One portion of the route will use an abandoned rail right-of-way. Another shares a wide right-of-way with existing railroad operation. Express bus service from beyond New Britain would reach the bus-way via I-84. Plans also envision a significant reverse-commute role for the bus corridor. As planned, the project would begin operations in 2003. Connecticut has agreed to its share of the funding, and is seeking full federal participation. There is some concern in the Hartford Region over adding to existing bus operating costs (the project would add at least 23 buses to the corridor). Available documents do not estimate projected ridership.

Other projects are geared more to mobility within cities. Boston's Silver Line and Cleveland's Euclid Corridor projects will both rebuild arterial streets around bus-ways using dedicated lanes to link busy sub-centers to central business districts. Both feature major links with city rapid rail systems, and the Boston project will ultimately provide new transit access from city to airport. The Cleveland project will also create a "transit zone" downtown that prioritizes bus access and movement. The Cleveland project would be finished by 2004, according to current schedules. The Silver Line has several phases ¾ the earliest phase, from Roxbury to downtown Boston, will begin revenue service this year, and is funded locally. Another part of the line in the emerging South Boston Piers area has an FTA "full funding agreement" and is scheduled for operation in 2002. A third phase to link the first two involves tunneling downtown and is some time off.

Meanwhile, New York, which has the slowest transit buses in the country, booming transit ridership and jammed highways, has no innovative bus projects underway. Any number of city arterials could use effective bus-priority treatment, while the clogged Gowanus HOV lane - where over 80% of the passengers are bus riders - is a prime candidate for an express bus-way from SI and Brooklyn to Manhattan.

"Bus rapid transit" demonstration projects are taking shape from Washington, D.C. and Florida to Hawaii. For more information, visit the internet at

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