Connecticut’s public agencies tasked with managing public transportation services are currently planning the future of transportation for the state. The state Department of Transportation is in the midst of a widespread campaign called Transform CT to solicit public input on its 50 year transportation plan. The Capitol Region Council of Governments will soon begin a comprehensive evaluation of bus lines in the Hartford region.
Both of these efforts touch the city of Hartford’s bus network. So what we do want? What kinds of things should we be asking for? When it comes to improving the bus system, this can be a complex and confusing question even for those of us who ride the bus daily. Many of us feel frustrated with the bus service in Hartford and can cite a litany of complaints—too many connections, no crosstown routes, lack of bus shelters, slow travel speeds and lengthy trips, poor service in the evenings. It’s a big list.
And yet every day (more so on weekdays) all these buses are out driving around the city, often filled with passengers, every single one of them either heading toward or away from downtown.
To get past this vague but overwhelming sense that we could use a better bus system here, we can take some cues from Jarrett Walker’s book Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives. Walker suggests that we can start with two factors that affect the performance of a transit system—frequency and span.
Walker is a transportation planner and consultant, but he comes to transportation planning with a background in studying human cultures and languages rather than engineering or management. His is a book that pays close attention to language—for instance, Walker points out the problems with transit planners’ use of the term “captive” to describe people who are forced to use public transportation because they do not own a car. In another instance he argues that referring to transit “connections” is better than calling them “transfers” when one has to switch to a second bus on a given journey because the former sounds more positive.
Walker is known for being a champion for frequency—for more buses to run more often on a given line as the way to serve and attract more riders. (Other transit planners believe that the comfort and aesthetics of transportation vehicles is equally, if not more, important.) Frequency has become Walker’s rallying cry. “Frequency is freedom,” he exclaims. Walker’s argument is that the more often a bus comes to your bus stop matters even more than the average speed that your bus travels once you get going. This seems counter-intuitive, even irrelevant, for trips made with a car. With a personal automobile frequency is never an issue. The car is always there and ready to depart when you are. For bus travel, it’s the waiting that can really kill your sense of mobility. Continue reading 'When’s the Next Bus? The Future of Hartford’s Transit System'»
The Capitol Avenue I-84 W entrance ramp is scheduled to be temporarily closed again.
On the evenings of March 10 and March 11 ramp access will be cut off. It will re-open again the following mornings at 5.
There are other nearby entrance ramps including on Asylum Street and Sisson Avenue.
A message from the DOT says that “the closures are necessary for pile-driving operations required for the construction of CTfastrak.”
According to the CT DOT, this work will not have any impact on pedestrians.
Hartford hosted zoning and transportation meetings this week as one agency launches a new plan and the other moves toward refining regulations.
DOT gives quick explanation of TransformCT at the Lyceum
The Zoning 101 event was presented by Hartford 2000 — the coalition of Neighborhood Revitalization Zones — and the City of Hartford’s Department of Development Services. Actors Cindy Martinez and Taneisha Duggan from HartBeat Ensemble were in the audience at the Hartford Public Library, adding drama to liven up what is often, but does not have to be, presented as a dull topic. All seemed to agree that HartBeat’s involvement was the strong point of the evening.
As the presentation moved along, there was frustration when City of Hartford employees were not answering resident questions. This was intentional at first, as someone’s questions were deferred from middle to the end of the planned presentation. Later, it seemed that people were talking past each other.
Local activist Hyacinth Yennie asked “What about the enforcement? … that’s the most critical of all.” The City employees agreed, but gave no hard answer about how zoning regulations would be enforced.
Mary Ricker Pelletier wanted to know who is on the team that is making the zoning changes. She received no response.
Ricker Pelletier commented that residents are often asked for input at meeting after meeting, but are not involved or informed when compromises are made. She asked, “What is the compromise process?” She was told that people could go to the new zoning website to see how people could be involved. Continue reading 'Engaging the Public on Transportation and Zoning'»
Originally supposed to happen at the beginning of the month, the temporary closure of the I-84 West entrance ramp on Capitol Avenue will be happening on February 27, 28, and it looks like March 1. The bulletin released by CTfastrak says that the ramp will be closed starting at 10pm on both February 27 and February 28, and then re-opening the following mornings at 5. Continue reading 'CTfastrak to Prompt More Temporary Closures'»
UPDATE: As of January 29, this work and closure has been postponed until further notice.
Weather permitting, construction work will be done on the railroad bridge over the Capitol Avenue I-84 westbound entrance ramp over the course of two evenings in early February.
The existing railroad bridge will be removed, so this highway entrance will be closed from 10pm-5am of February 3-4 and February 4-5, 2014. The Department of Transportation did not say how this would impact the pedestrian/cyclist bridge behind the Armory and Legislative Office Building.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation, specifically those connected to the CTfastrak project, have an actual policy for dealing with Real Hartford:
In 2012, DOT transit administrator did comment on this site. Continue reading 'PR Firm Advises DOT on Real Hartford'»
Paved section of path, south of the Riverfront Plaza
It’s expected that the State Bond Commission will approve funds on Friday to finish paving the walkway between Charter Oak Landing and the existing path that crosses railroad tracks. Continue reading 'Access Along River to be Extended'»
Starting at 3pm, vehicles may not be parked on Hartford streets for the duration of the snow storm. Disregarding this ban may result in ticketing and towing. If you do not have off-street parking available, you may move your vehicle to a variety of public lots.
City parks have been declared closed until further notice.
Artwork on structure walls at Heaven. It was proposed that these structures be removed or reduced in size. There were objections to the removal of this public art.
“This is about preparing an area for development,” said Thomas Deller, City of Hartford’s Director of Development Services. “Everything that’s here is being proposed as the maximum.”
The Downtown North Park Plan is funded, Deller said, by a sustainable community grant to “determine how we develop” the area “for growth and sustainability.”
As with the previous two public meetings, there were questions about who these proposed changes are for, even as the standing room only crowd was told that a steering committee included community members.
But all along, it has been evident that whole segments of the population have not been included in the planning process. At the previous meeting in October, very few residents not employed by the City were in attendance, and no regular users of New Ross, County Wexford Park were involved, even though this small park has its own Friends group. At that meeting, when I informed Tim Love, the Principal of Utile, Inc., that the park is currently used by skaters and others, and that a formal skate park was about the break ground, I was told that if this park was deemed not in the interest of economic development, the skate park could be moved.
I suggested that the parties involved in redevelopment reach out to the community.
That does not seem to have happened in the time since, but park users — including those who skate, do parkour, and use the space as a canvas for their art — caught wind of the plans to change a space without seeking their input. So, they showed up at last night’s final meeting, and they showed up in large numbers.
Regular users of Wexford, New Ross County Park — Heaven — showed up to the meeting where the park was given two minutes of discussion tacked on at the end just before the library closed.
Predictably, information about the skate park was presented last, for mere minutes, and then followed by the rushed Q&A segment. Continue reading 'Final Downtown North Design Meeting'»