Neehaar Gandhi

For the first phase of a new initiative to improve New Haven’s transit system, citizens spent the last year evaluating the system by submitting suggestions via an online form.

Move New Haven — an initiative to study, evaluate and recommend alternatives to improve the Greater New Haven’s transit system — was launched in September 2016, and the first phase of its Transit Mobility Study ended in August. The initial phase was designed to evaluate the current transit system with data collection and public input.

The city of New Haven, the state Department of Transportation, the Greater New Haven Transit District, the South Central Regional Council of Governments and the Federal Transit Administration collaborated on the first phase of the study.

“[There are] 10 million trips a year in New Haven, and there was zero long time performance data, and you are seeing a decrease in users and riders over the last couple of years,” said Doug Hausladen, director of New Haven’s Transportation, Traffic and Parking Department. “Without [data], you can’t quantitatively judge the system.”

Move New Haven’s goal is to propose a system with the “improved reliability, customer service and productivity that are the hallmarks of a modern transit system” by reprogramming “the system’s service and the funds used to sustain it, as well as the implementation of infrastructure and fleet improvements.”

The study, whose phase-one findings were released in August, shows that New Haven has the highest percentage of households without cars and also the highest number of bus riders in the Greater New Haven area.

Connecticut Transit New Haven consists of 15 fixed-route bus services, one intercity express and two shuttle services that transport around 10 million passenger trips a year. The system’s hub is at the New Haven Green, where the fixed routes start.

“Private shuttle buses, including the expansive Yale Shuttle Bus system, replicate a significant portion of the CTtransit New Haven system in the core study area, siphoning potential public system riders with free service and other amenities,” according to the study.

One policy position that citizens recommended frequently was greater integration of Yale Shuttles and the city’s bus system.

According to Hausladen, it takes more than 90 minutes to ride a bus in New Haven when the average commute time should be roughly 24 minutes.

“We are asking too much of people, and we are putting too many barriers to success, and that’s not fair,” Hausladen said. “To be competitive nationally and internationally, but also locally, I need my neighbor in the Hill to have just as good access [on the bus] to get to work as someone who has a car.”

The second phase of the study will develop an implementable transit plan. This phase started in January 2017 and its results will be published in January 2018.

Berenice Valencia | brenda.valenciafernandez@yale.edu