State officials unveiled one of the new 40-foot CTfastrak buses on Monday as part of a bus system in development that promises a traffic-free commute between New Britain and Hartford.
The bus is a hybrid with LED lighting and wireless Internet. Officials headed to the Capitol building in Hartford for a ribbon-cutting ceremony this afternoon.
"I have had emails from friends who have been as far away as Indiana seeing these buses coming in from the plant and saying what a great, great image this is for the state of Connecticut," said Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker. "We're excited about it."
Construction is underway on the project that's been years in the making. The "rapid transit system" will span 9.4 miles between Hartford and New Britain, according to the CTfastrak website, and is scheduled to be completed in early 2015.
Ten stations will be built along the Interstate 84 corridor between the two cities. Commuter buses from points such as Waterbury, Cheshire and Southington will also use the busway to and from Hartford.
Officials in Newington, home to two new stations, hope the busway will spark retail and residential development in the area.
"I look at this as really a spine for a whole transportation network we're going to be in the middle of," explained Newington Town Council member Terry Borjeson, who described the project as "tremendous for everybody."
The state Department of Transportation estimates that about 16,000 people will use CTfastrak instead of driving to avoid traffic, but not everyone is optimistic.
"My best hope is that this is the only one of these misbegotten projects we undertake in Connecticut," said State Sen. Joseph Markley, of Southington. "There's already been talk in the legislature about building three more of these busways and expanding it to Danbury."