Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday that he will instruct CT Transit to provide free, statewide bus transportation on weekends over the summer.
Free bus services will be available beginning on May 31, the start of Memorial Day weekend, and continuing until Sept. 6, Labor Day. The Connecticut Department of Transportation plans to use up to $3 million procured from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to support the program across all systems operated by CT Transit, including New Haven-area bus routes. This change, announced at a press conference for the Transportation and Climate Initiative, is part of the state’s ongoing effort to provide economic relief amid the pandemic.
“To help support our economic recovery from the pandemic, I want to make Connecticut’s many attractions and businesses reachable by as many of our residents as possible.” Lamont wrote in a press release. “Implementing free weekend bus service this summer — the busiest time of tourism season — will help facilitate that.”
According to 2015 data on American car ownership, approximately 30 percent of New Haven residents do not own a car. Lamont hopes this effort will also help these residents who rely on public transportation, adding that he would like to see “less people in cars.”
Joyce Goodman, an Elm City resident who identifies as handicapped, told the News she is happy to hear about the free bus travel on summer weekends. Goodman said she frequently uses the bus to travel from her home on State Street near Hamden to downtown New Haven to “enjoy New Haven.”
“I like the scenery. I meet some nice people.” Goodman told the News while waiting for a bus at the New Haven Green. “I like just sitting around sometimes and enjoy the atmosphere of the place.”
This announcement is a part of Lamont’s latest push to expand statewide bus services. Lamont’s recent state biennium budget proposals for 2022 and 2023 provide $1,169,634 each year to extend operational hours for 19 New Haven area bus service routes to 1 a.m., which officials hope will benefit commuting workers as the economy recovers.
With many of Yale Shuttle’s routes operating on weekdays only, free bus services on the weekend could encourage Yale Summer Session students or those pursuing internships on or around campus to venture further out into the city. Ramsay Goyal ’24, who is planning on pursuing a summer internship in the city, told the News that free public transportation would improve his mobility throughout the city. Adult all-day bus passes currently cost $3.50, and single fares cost $1.75.
“The city’s bus fare is one of the biggest barriers right now, since I’m a Yale student with the free Yale Shuttle as an option,” Goyal said. “I’m definitely more likely to use services if they are free.”
Additional funding for state transportation services are on their way. The Federal Transportation Administration announced on Monday that approximately $120 million in federal monies will be allocated to New Haven-area transit systems through the recently passed American Rescue Plan.
CT Transit was founded in 1976.
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Clarification, March 31: The first sentence of the story has been updated to clarify earlier on in the article that the free bus services are only on weekends.