Community Calendar of Events

Experts discuss business opportunities along CTfastrak

NEWINGTON — Two transit experts identified potential customers for businesses developed along CTfastrak’s Busway last week.

Following a visual presentation at the town hall of the Busway from Brian Cunningham, Department of Transportation project manager, an audience of 60 heard about the economic benefits of the New Britain-Hartford Busway. The speakers were urban policy experts, Stephanie Pollack and Lyle Wray.

Pollack is a professor at Northeastern University and associate director of research at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. Wray is executive director of the Capitol region Council of Governments.

Pollack unleashed a barrage of statistics she said show that:

�/ The state is aging more rapidly than other states

�/  Connecticut is growing more slowly than any other New England state, discouraging companies from relocating here

�/  Companies locate in places where there are workers

�/  Young workers are leaving Connecticut for states with rapid transit systems

�/   Connecticut is 41st among states that retain college graduates. “One year after graduation your students are living somewhere else,” Pollack said. “So, you’re actually training workers for somebody else’s economy.”

She said millennials want to live in places that are more walkable and have rapid transit. Cars are less important to this group. In fact, car-sharing is becoming a trend in which several people share one car.

Wray argued that railways fail, but busways never do. He cited a study of Cleveland’s transit system and concluded, “If Cleveland can construct a successful system, we can do it, too.” The busway can become a magnet for commercial activity if only 5 percent fewer commuters use Route

84. The success of the busway does not depend on activity between New Britain and Hartford, but more on Central Connecticut State University students’ use and people who commute to jobs at the UConn Health Center.

Newington Town Councilor Terry Borjeson, who hosted the conference, also chairs the CTfastrak Corridor Advisory Subcommittee. His subcommittee provides representation of leaders from each Busway community.

“We don’t want decisions made for us; we want to make the decisions,” Borjeson explained.

He called Pollack “a rock star when it comes to this stuff and Lyle’s [Wray] been all over the world. I wanted people to hear them. This is the biggest economic development project in this area in 50 years.”

Some people in the audience voiced reservations about the busway. Newington resident Maddy Kenny complained about the lack of sidewalks near the bus stops. Borjeson said he would have an answer for her on sidewalks by early next week.

Others praised the meeting.

Nick Augustino, owner, Eastside Restaurant, said he had been a fan of the busway since the beginning. Augustino said Pollack reinforced everything he thought the busway was going to be. 

“I know I can market this thing [the busway],” he said. “I’ve been pro busway since day one. I can work it for my business and New Britain.”

Scott Whipple can be reached at (860) 225-4601, ext. 319 or at

« New Britain named one of the top places to retire | Main | New Britain Industrial Museum A Blast From Past »