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How do you get to a Connecticut beach without a car? State transit has an answer.

Friends of Hammonasset
Creative Commons

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and with it summer travel. But without a car, it can feel like options are limited in Connecticut. That’s the case for 10% of households in the state that don’t have access to a car, according to data from National Equity Access.

A number of state parks are accessible by public transportation. Park Connect CT, a program from the state Department of Transportation and of Energy and Environmental Protection, is helping residents to understand how to get to them.

The website features a series of maps that guide travelers from major Connecticut cities to the parks via train, bus, local transit, shuttles and in one instance, a trolley. Bus fare is free statewide until December 1 thanks to legislation passed this session. ParkConnect takes residents the last mile from the bus station on free shuttles and local transit buses, and claims to get all riders within a 10 minute walk of their desired endpoint. Trains in the state will still be requiring fare.

Josh Morgan, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, said “last year, there were over 3,000 passenger trips.” The program launched just before Memorial Day in 2021 as a way to get residents out in a COVID-safe way, he said. Only four parks were included last year.

The program carries passengers to state parks across Southern Connecticut, including Sherwood Island in Westport, Osbornedale State Park in Derby, Indian Well State Park in Shelton, Silver Sands in Milford, Fort Trumbull in New London, Sleeping Giant in Hamden and Hammonasset Beach in Madison.

“Whether you want to go to the beach or explore some trails, there’s something there for everybody,” Morgan said.

Non-white people are three times more likely to live in an area that is nature deprived according to the Center for American Progress. The Transit to Trails Act, national legislation that passed the House of Representatives last year, would address this disparity in access to green space for underserved communities.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation program runs through Labor Day weekend.

Copyright 2022 Connecticut Public Radio. To see more, visit Connecticut Public Radio.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Ali reports on the Naugatuck River Valley with an emphasis on work, economic development, and opportunity in the Valley. Her work has appeared on NPR, Marketplace, and The Hartford Courant.