Students say fare will factor into planned streetcar use


A planned streetcar will expand New Haven transportation options to Union Station, but students who cite cost of ridershipare unsureabout the plan.

The proposed New Haven tramline will provide an alternative to the free Yale shuttle. But students interviewed over the weekend were largely ambivalent about the convenience and more concerned about the cost of riding the tramline.

Ten of 13students said the tramline would have little impact on their travel plans, citing potential cost of a fare and convenience of the existing Yale shuttle. The cost of the new streetcar would be a deciding factor for nine of the thirteen students. But all students agreed the tramline would be a welcomeaddition to New Haven transportation options.

“I wouldn’t take any [method of transportation] I have to pay for,” Nace Cohen’14 said, adding that heplans to take Amtrak home to Boston during vacations.

Students taking Amtrak already have several ways to reach the Union Avenue station, including taxis, city buses, or simply walking. Six of thirteen students said they use the complimentary Yale shuttle bus, which runs every 15 minutes on weekdays from Phelps Gate to the station via the Medical Campus. The tramline would offer another alternativeby running to the train station via Temple Street, with streetcar stations at Elm Street and Chapel Street.Although the tram stops would be convenient to campus, ten students said they would continue to use the free Union Station shuttle.

Ed Bebyn, manager of Yale transportation options, said unless bus service to the train station experiences a significant decline in student usage, his department was unlike to make major changes to the route.

“I don’t think anybody should start worrying about a service being cut,” he said.

But based on students’ opinions, no decline in riders appears likely. Drew Morrison’14 said he supports the construction of a streetcar line but said there is little reason for students not to use the free shuttle. The streetcar will be a tough sell for Yale students given the comfortable and effective bus service, he said.

City officials have not finalized fare prices because the line is still in early planning stages. But Michael Piscitelli, New Haven’s director of transportation, traffic,and parking, has said that he wants to develop a free-ride program for Yalies similar to the U-Pass, which allows students at the University of New Haven and other area schools to ride CT Transit buses for free during the academic year.

Reuben Hendler’13, who usually takes a taxi or walks to the train, said he would use the streetcar if it were free and ran at a convenient time.

Piscitelli previously said the trams will run every 15 minutes, more frequently than the CT Transit bus but as often as the Yale shuttle.

The strongest studentssupporters of the tram were those who said they did not believe the Yale shuttle was convenient enough. Morrison said that on several occasions the university bus was late and believed streetcar would be a more efficient. Marlene Tempchin’12 said that for Timothy Dwight and Silliman students, it would be a much shorter walk to tram tracks on Temple Street than to the shuttle bus stop at Phelps Gate.

“If I am in a rush, [the bus] is inconvenient,” she said.

Despite the potential cost of riding the streetcar, all students said they welcomed an additional way to travel to and from Union Station, but did not call the line essential.

“It doesn’t matter to me, the shuttle or the streetcar,” Ned Downie’14 said.

New Haven will begin the streetcar planning process in Jan.2011.

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