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Federal funds provide major boost to CT bus service system

CT Fastrack bus.
Molly Ingram
CT Fastrack bus.

A new fleet of 46 electric buses is coming to the greater Hartford area. The $86 million upgrade will fully electrify the CTfastrak, a rapid transit system that uses bus-only lanes to transport riders to and from Waterbury, Cheshire, Southington, Bristol, Plainville, New Britain, Newington, West Hartford, Hartford and Manchester.

The federal government is contributing $39.6 million to the project through the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Grant Program, which was funded by $5.6 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“We are pleased to provide federal support to CT DOT to help make CTfastrak even more environmentally friendly and continue its work to create new opportunities that change people’s lives,” FTA Region 1 Administrator Peter Butler said.

The system has been in use for almost 10 years. Since the first bus left the station, it has carried more than 26 million passengers.

State transportation commissioner Garrett Eucalitto said electrifying the buses will make them quieter and more climate-friendly.

“By deploying these buses in place of the diesel-powered buses, we're going to reduce our direct carbon emissions by 5300 metric tons annually,” Eucalitto said. “This is really critical for communities like New Britain, Hartford, and the communities in between that are traditionally overburdened by air pollution.”

Twenty-nine chargers will also be installed for the buses. According to Eucalitto, a full charge can take the bus 250 miles, or a full day of driving.

The state’s transportation department has to electrify the public bus fleet of about 700 by 2035, by order of Governor Ned Lamont (D). Currently, only 55 are electric.

“The new battery-electric buses and chargers will help us meet the growing demand for reliable, efficient and environmentally-friendly transit options, and will greatly benefit the thousands of residents and commuters who rely on CTfastrak services every day,” Lamont said.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.