Connecticut’s new commuter rail line marked one year of service Monday.
To celebrate, Gov. Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, and Transportation Commissioner Joe Giuletti took the CT Rail Hartford Line from New Haven to Hartford.
“This is how you tie a state together,” Lamont said after he stepped off the train at Hartford Union Station. “There’s nothing more important in terms of economic development than making sure people can get from here to there.”
To date, more than 634,000 passengers have ridden the Hartford Line, exceeding projections by more than 51,000.
The train has nine stops, eight of them in Connecticut. The Hartford line ends northbound in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Some improvements are coming to the Hartford Line. An app with mobile ticketing is being developed, new Amtrak cars will be on the line in the coming years, and cars with restrooms that are ADA accessible will be arriving on the line later in the summer. The cars have been repurposed from other commuter rail operators around the country and region.
Transportation Commissioner Joe Giuletti quipped, “Help us with getting tolling funding through and maybe we can get new cars up and down the line” on the issue of the ADA cars being rehabbed, pre-owned cars
Expanding public transit is considered a key cog of any broader transportation plan. Though, due to federal rules, revenue generated from tolls cannot be used on rail lines. Instead, the plan is for the Department of Transportation to use other revenues to pay for rail improvements, in the event they’re not needed due to a new revenue stream for roads that tolls would provide.
Lamont says he’s not envisioning anything extraordinary in his plans for transportation but says even simple improvements will make Connecticut an easier state to navigate.
“We don’t have to have a high speed Shanghai to Beijing type rail,” Lamont said. “We can make five to ten to fifteen minutes faster by doing some basic, state of good repair and some signalization work and that’s what we’ve got to do to get this state moving again.”
No plans for a Special Session on infrastructure have been announced yet. Gov. Lamont will meet with legislative leaders on Wednesday to discuss what may be debated by the General Assembly later in the Summer.