New Haven residents will soon be able to take a train to the state’s capital for the same amount of money it takes to purchase a movie ticket.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation announced on Oct. 23 that the introductory cost for a ticket from New Haven to Hartford on the new CTrail line will be $8. The Hartford Line — which connects New Haven to Springfield, Mass. — is set to begin operation in May 2018.
“When the CTrail Hartford Line launches, it will be a game-changer for the state,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in an Oct. 23 statement. “It will position Connecticut as a more attractive place for new business investment, provide transit options for our current residents and will attract new residents who don’t want to be automobile dependent.”
About 200,000 workers in the New Haven area live within a few miles of the new service, according to Mark Abraham ’04, the executive director of DataHaven, a nonprofit that analyzes data on the New Haven area. Of those workers, one in eight work in the Hartford area.
Abraham, who periodically commutes from New Haven to Hartford, said the train service “will be significantly more pleasant and cost-effective than driving, parking or taking the bus, especially at peak hours when trains run frequently.”
Mayoral spokesman Laurence Grotheer expressed optimism about the rail service’s ability to increase the productivity of the region.
“Commuter rail service to link New Haven, Hartford and Springfield will help create an environmentally responsible, regional economic hub that includes a deep-water port, a state capital and an international airport,” he said.
Eric Gjede, counsel for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said he was less optimistic about the potential for the new rail line to help businesses. While the service will allow companies to cast a wider net when searching for potential employees, he does not foresee business being helped in other ways, he said.
According to Gjede, the new line will not help alleviate the congestion on major highways, which plagues the state and stands out as a major problem for area businesses.
“The traffic on I-95, I-91, and I-84 is so bad it limits companies’ capacities to attract customers,” Gjede said. “I do not think this commuter rail system will help that.”
Still, Gjede acknowledged that the new rail system will increase foot and car traffic at the rail’s station, which Abraham said would benefit nearby businesses and retail operations by creating a larger market of people to draw from.
Some of those customers will be Yale affiliates like Mariel Barocas ’21, whose home is in Connecticut. She was surprised by the price of a ticket, which is cheaper than the roughly $15 Greyhound bus ride and more than $60 Uber fare from New Haven to Hartford.
“$8 is really cheap, especially compared to the other ways of getting to Hartford,” Barocas said. “It will make it easier to get to Hartford, and, hopefully, it will reduce traffic.”
Connecticut’s transportation department also announced a 35-day long period for public comment. This window is designed to give the public time to provide feedback on the proposed fares and attend public hearings in New Haven, Hartford and Springfield.
The public hearing in New Haven will be on Nov. 13 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the New Haven Hall of Records.
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